The Fields of Popular Fiction and Australian Romance, Crime and Fantasy


The Fields of Popular Fiction and Australian Romance, Crime and Fantasy

English and Theatre Studies seminar

This special extended seminar is presented with the Australian Centre and the Publishing and Communication program and supported by the ARC Discovery Project Genre Worlds: Australian Popular Fiction in the Twenty-First Century.

The four presentations are:

The Fields of Popular Fiction: Ken Gelder

This paper aims to open up a debate about the way we understand, frame and engage with popular fiction – especially today when, perhaps more than ever, popular fiction is defined through variable niche market practices, some of which might be large-scale while others are highly specialised and limited in range and duration. This paper will look at a well-publicised 'round table' discussion of Fifty Shades, to consider who is 'in the game', and who isn't, in relation to this popular genre.

Ken Gelder is Professor of English and co-director of the Australian Centre at the University of Melbourne.

The Genre World of Romance in Twenty-First Century Australia: Lisa Fletcher

This paper proposes the concept of the “genre world” as an analytical tool for examining the relationship between the textual conventions by which we typically define genre and the conventional collective behaviours and activities that govern the production of genre texts. It reports on text-and interview-based case studies of three Australian romance novels and is co-authored by Lisa Fletcher, Beth Driscoll and Kim Wilkins. This paper will be delivered by Lisa Fletcher.

Lisa Fletcher is Senior Lecturer in English at the University of Tasmania.

Crime Fiction and the Contemporary Middlebrow: Beth Driscoll

Q. D. Leavis’ 1932 critique of middlebrow culture includes a dismissal of detective fiction as “mental relaxation.” However, crime fiction is a capacious genre and the practices surrounding the Golden Age “cosy” are quite different from those of the thriller and the hardboiled noir. This paper draws on Beth Driscoll's model of the new literary middlebrow to analyse Peter Temple’s novel Truth, which won the 2010 Miles Franklin Literary Award. She suggests that the media and critical reactions to this event show that the book cannot be neatly assimilated into middlebrow cultural practices.

Beth Driscoll is Lecturer in Publishing and Communications at the University of Melbourne.

The R&D Lab: Genre Communities in Australian Fantasy: Kim Wilkins

The careers of many Australian fantasy authors have been shaped, at a variety of stages, by their involvement with small presses. This presentation will show how fantasy small presses, which arise out of existing genre readerships and networks, operate as a research and development space for both emerging and established authors. The Australian fantasy community, then, can be seen as both a consumer and a producer of Australian fantasy.

Kim Wilkins is a Senior Lecturer in the School of Communication and Arts, University of Queensland.

All are welcome.


  • Dr Kim Wilkins
    Dr Kim Wilkins, University of Queensland
  • Dr Beth Driscoll
    Dr Beth Driscoll, University of Melbourne
  • Dr Lisa Fletcher
    Dr Lisa Fletcher, University of Tasmania
  • Professor Ken  Gelder