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The Journal of English Language and Literature , Vol.63, No.2, 201 ~ 218, 2017
In the File Drawer Labeled `Science Fiction`: Genre after the Age of the Novel
Robert T. Tally Jr.
In 1965, Kurt Vonnegut famously complained of being labeled a science-fiction writer, but he also predicted that so-called science fiction would become mainstream as more writers incorporated the effects of technology into their literary fiction. By the time of his death in 2007, the “subliterary” genres of science fiction, fantasy, horror, and a combination of the three presented under the banner of children`s literature dominated the literary marketplace. In this essay, Robert T. Tally Jr. argues that the continuing expansion of capital has, perhaps indirectly, affected the literary marketplace by demanding greater and greater levels of commodification. Genres are, in many respects, marketing labels, and the need to slot fiction into recognizable market niches undoubtedly drives much of the publishing industry. However, even at the formal level, the commodification of forms has tended to uproot the “literary” in the literary marketplace. As that market has become more global, genre fiction predominates. Using Vonnegut as a point of departure, Tally argues that the ambitions of “literary” writers of postwar American fiction increasingly turned to generic forms since the 1970s. The celebrated hybrid genres today might be considered as literary versions of financial derivatives, drawing their “value” from other commodities, and Tally suggests that such fiction reflects the postnational world market after the “age of the novel.”
Key Words
Genre, Science Fiction, Literary Theory, Theory of the Novel, Globalization
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