TOPIC: Pulp Fictions: Reading Popular Texts in 20th Century America

In this course, students will develop critical reading and analytical writing skills through the exploration of pulp fiction in its historical and contemporary contexts. The class will investigate the increasing visibility of "pulp" influences on films like The Big Lebowski, comic books and graphic novels, and television series. We will begin by looking at stories from early pulp magazines, examining iconic figures like the hardboiled detective, the femme fatale, and early superheroes like Doc Savage and The Shadow. Next, we'll look at how these iconic figures influence the creation of comic book characters, from the early days of Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman, to the X-Men of the 1960s and 70s, through more recent underground comics like Frank Miller's The Dark Knight Returns, Sandman, and Tank Girl. We'll end the class by interrogating how contemporary TV shows like The X-Files, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, and Firefly use these "pulp" characters and comic heroes in a contemporary context.