Last week at the Genre Worlds: Popular Fiction in the 21st Century conference, which was held alongside GenreCon 2017, I was absolutely enthralled by a variety of academic papers examining a topic very close to my heart: genre fiction.

Michelle Goldsmith – Exploring the In-Between: Interstitial Speculative-Literary Fiction in the Contemporary Book Market

My beloved genre novels have always seemed to appear on a less respected shelf than their ‘literary’ sisters. It was deeply satisfying to witness examples of crime, romance and fantasy fiction and their devoted readers investigated in an academic setting.

The fascinating presentations ranged from developments in the Australian publishing industry to feminist criminology.

Meg Vann – The Menace of Intimacy: Feminist Criminology, Domestic Noir, and Emily Maguire’s “An Isolated Incident”

Take a look at the full program here.

The research project

The Genre Worlds project is funded by an ARC Discovery Project Grant and will investigate:

  1. the publishing of Australian popular fiction
  2. popular fiction and Australian genre communities
  3. the textual distinctiveness of Australian popular novels in relation to genre.
Jodi McAlister – Not Quite YA, Not Yet Adult: The Short but Complex History of “New Adult Fiction”

Looking to the future

As an avid reader and writer, perhaps the most exciting aspect of this study is the possibility of future growth, both in terms of readership and production of Australian genre fiction.

‘we examine the complex and rapidly changing mechanisms of popular fiction creation, publication, and circulation. This approach challenges the rhetoric of decline and crisis that so often frames discussion of Australian books.’

Genre Worlds Flyer

Could there be a bright future for Australian popular fiction?

I certainly hope so!

For more information

The research team:

  • Dr Kim Wilkins, Senior Lecturer in Writing at the University of Queensland and popular fiction author:
  • Professor David Carter, FAHA, Professor of Australian Literature and Cultural History at the University of Queensland:
  • Dr Beth Driscoll, Lecturer in Publishing and Communications at the University of Melbourne:
  • Dr Lisa Fletcher, Senior Lecturer in English at the University of Tasmania: