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Ecocritical Explorations in Literary and Cultural Studies

In Ecocritical Explorations, Patrick D. Murphy explores environmental literature and environmental cultural issues through both theoretical and applied criticism. He engages with the concepts of referentiality, simplicity, the nation state, and virtual reality in the first section of the book, and then goes on to interrogate these issues in contemporary environmental literature, both American and international. He concludes his argument with a discussion of the larger frames of family dynamics and un-natural disasters, such as hurricanes and global warming, ending with a chapter on the integration of scholarship and pedagogy in the classroom, with reference to his own teaching experiences. Murphy’s study provides a wide ranging discussion of contemporary literature and cultural phenomena through the lens of ecological literary criticism, giving attention to both theoretical issues and applied critiques. In particular, he looks at popular literary genres, such as mystery and science fiction, as well as actual disasters and disaster scenarios. Ecocritical Explorations in Literary and Cultural Studies is a timely contribution to ecological literary criticism and an insightful look into how we represent our relationship with the environment.

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American Mystery and Detective Novels

Mystery and detective novels are popular fictional genres within Western literature. As such, they provide a wealth of information about popular art and culture. When the genre develops within various cultures, it adopts, and proceeds to dominate, native expressions and imagery. American mystery and detective novels appeared in the late nineteenth century. This reference provides a selective guide to the important criticism of American mystery and detective novels and presents general features of the genre and its historical development over the past two centuries. Critical approaches covered in the volume include story as game, images, myth criticism, formalism and structuralism, psychonalysis, Marxism and more. Comparisons with related genres, such as gothic, suspense, gangster, and postmodern novels, illustrate similarities and differences important to the understanding of the unique components of mystery and detective fiction.

The guide is divided into five major sections: a brief history, related genres, criticism, authors, and reference. This organization accounts for the literary history and types of novels stemming from the mystery and detective genre. A chronology provides a helpful overview of the development and transformation of the genre.

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The Formulas of Popular Fiction

"Anna Faktorovich has written an impressive study of genre writing. It is comprehensively informative and enticing on an intellectual level and simultaneously encouraging and useful to those embarking on a writing career. Formulaic authorship is not as creatively rewarding as producing Lolita or King Lear, but those future Luke Skywalkers and Harry Potters will pay the rent."–Robert Hauptman, editor, Journal of Information Ethics.
This book creates a taxonomy for the major bestselling fictional genres: romance (e.g., authors Heyer, Cartland, Woodiwiss and Roberts), religious and inspirational (Corelli and Douglas), mystery and detective (Conan Doyle, Christie and Mankell), and science fiction, horror and fantasy (Wells, Tolkien, Orwell, Niven, King and Rowling). Chapters look at a genre from its roots to its most recent works. The structural patterns in the plot, characters and setting of these genres are then explained.
The book also provides a critique of currently popular hyper-formulaic, hack, unliterary writings that have multiplied in recent decades. Special topics such as the publishing oligopoly and the resulting homogeneity among bestselling works and the steady movement from literary to unliterary fiction are also examined.