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A fresh approach to the history and shape of science fiction In Science Fiction and the Mass Cultural Genre System, John Rieder asks literary scholars to consider what shape literary history takes when based on a historical, rather than formalist, genre theory. Rieder starts from the premise that science fiction and the other genres usually associated with so-called genre f A fresh approach to the history and shape of science fiction In Science Fiction and the Mass Cultural Genre System, John Rieder asks literary scholars to consider what shape literary history takes when based on a historical, rather than formalist, genre theory. Rieder starts from the premise that science fiction and the other genres usually associated with so-called genre fiction comprise a system of genres entirely distinct from the pre-existing classical and academic genre system that includes the epic, tragedy, comedy, satire, romance, the lyric, and so on. He proposes that the field of literary production and the project of literary studies cannot be adequately conceptualized without taking into account the tensions between these two genre systems that arise from their different modes of production, distribution, and reception. Although the careful reading of individual texts forms an important part of this study, the systemic approach offered by Science Fiction and the Mass Cultural Genre System provides a fundamental challenge to literary methodologies that foreground individual innovation.


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A fresh approach to the history and shape of science fiction In Science Fiction and the Mass Cultural Genre System, John Rieder asks literary scholars to consider what shape literary history takes when based on a historical, rather than formalist, genre theory. Rieder starts from the premise that science fiction and the other genres usually associated with so-called genre f A fresh approach to the history and shape of science fiction In Science Fiction and the Mass Cultural Genre System, John Rieder asks literary scholars to consider what shape literary history takes when based on a historical, rather than formalist, genre theory. Rieder starts from the premise that science fiction and the other genres usually associated with so-called genre fiction comprise a system of genres entirely distinct from the pre-existing classical and academic genre system that includes the epic, tragedy, comedy, satire, romance, the lyric, and so on. He proposes that the field of literary production and the project of literary studies cannot be adequately conceptualized without taking into account the tensions between these two genre systems that arise from their different modes of production, distribution, and reception. Although the careful reading of individual texts forms an important part of this study, the systemic approach offered by Science Fiction and the Mass Cultural Genre System provides a fundamental challenge to literary methodologies that foreground individual innovation.

35 review for Science Fiction and the Mass Cultural Genre System

  1. 5 out of 5

    Miquel Codony

    Es un libro suficientemente complejo como para que me de reparo reseñarlo en condiciones. Es puramente académico, para nada pensado para la divulgación, pero es un texto excelente sobre la historia del género (ciencia ficción, en este caso) que abre la puerta a algunas ideas interesantes. Algunas de ellas (pero no todas y pasadas por el filtro reduccionista de mi interpretación) son que la ciencia ficción no tiene un punto de origen determinado ni un rasgo definitorio concreto, sino una constela Es un libro suficientemente complejo como para que me de reparo reseñarlo en condiciones. Es puramente académico, para nada pensado para la divulgación, pero es un texto excelente sobre la historia del género (ciencia ficción, en este caso) que abre la puerta a algunas ideas interesantes. Algunas de ellas (pero no todas y pasadas por el filtro reduccionista de mi interpretación) son que la ciencia ficción no tiene un punto de origen determinado ni un rasgo definitorio concreto, sino una constelación (Rieder no lo nombra así) de características que le dan una consistencia más o menos variables; que no se puede entender el origen del género (o de cualquier otro género moderno) si no es en relación al lugar que ocupa en la industria del entretenimiento de masas (y su deseo de fidelizar colectivos diana a los que dirigir su publicidad); y que determinados cambios de paradigma —el papel de la ciencia y la alfabetización, científica o no, de la población, la aparición de las revistas pulp, la entrada de la mujer como escritora de ciencia ficción, y de otros colectivos, durante la nueva ola, la división del género en “blockbusters” cinematográficos y subculturas literarias a partir de Star Wars...— tienen más relevancia para entender la historia del género que las innovaciones de escritores concretos; el papel del canon como selección, a posteriori de títulos que son relevantes para diferentes comunidades de uso; el mismo concepto de comunidad de uso... sirvan a título de ejemplo. El libro es un ejemplo impecable de cómo se construyen argumentos y ninguna palabra está de más o es baladí. Es posible que en ocasiones vaya demasiado a la periferia del género en su selección de ejemplos o que, pero eso puede ser cosa mía, que sobreinterprete cuando hace “close reading” de algunos títulos, pero si eres un lector interesado en la crítica literaria en su vertiente más teórica y en la historia de la literatura de ciencia ficción, es un título sencillamente imprescindible.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Carlex

    Four and half stars (I finished this book a while ago) First of all, this is totally an scholar book and the readers to whom it is addressed are mainly other scholars. In other words, the author does not care about the enjoyment of reading, but it does not mean that this book is not interesting, quite the opposite. Briefly, the book deals about science fiction genres with a innovative point o view, at least for me. Basically, the main idea is that the literary genders are the result of its cultural Four and half stars (I finished this book a while ago) First of all, this is totally an scholar book and the readers to whom it is addressed are mainly other scholars. In other words, the author does not care about the enjoyment of reading, but it does not mean that this book is not interesting, quite the opposite. Briefly, the book deals about science fiction genres with a innovative point o view, at least for me. Basically, the main idea is that the literary genders are the result of its cultural, economic and technological context and its appearance is attributable more to their background rather than to a single seminal work. For example, Frankenstein, commonly considered a seminal work, but the author analyzes this novel from the perspective of its historical context and the gothic literature as a whole; or the pulp novels of the 30s, that is: escapism, cheap leisure for the working classes, etc. This part of the book is simply excellent. The author addresses other issues: feminism and ethnicity in literary science fiction, and also some science fiction movies but of the latter too superficially in my opinion (in comparison to the other themes of the book) and he is not so successful in his analysis. Overall, a rewarding reading, although it is not for all readers, it is recommended for those interested in science fiction genres as a subject of study.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Brian

    Rieder makes an argument for the difference between "mass" and "literary" genre, and, following Frederic Jameson, argues for the importance of understanding genres, especially mass cultural genres, in historical rather than formal terms. Science fiction being his main object of study, he contends that the formal features defining science fiction as a genre are a constantly moving target shaped by historical circumstance. Though he goes farther in making this claim than I would, I more or less ag Rieder makes an argument for the difference between "mass" and "literary" genre, and, following Frederic Jameson, argues for the importance of understanding genres, especially mass cultural genres, in historical rather than formal terms. Science fiction being his main object of study, he contends that the formal features defining science fiction as a genre are a constantly moving target shaped by historical circumstance. Though he goes farther in making this claim than I would, I more or less agree, and he articulates this point very well in the book's first two chapters. The later chapters, in which he provides close readings of some individual works, are less compelling and aren't as rigorously historicist as I would expect them to be given the overall thesis of the book. Still, a very worthwhile piece of science fiction scholarship.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Dan

    Excellent "historical rumination" that foregrounds science fiction's shifting position in the industrial system of mass media production. Excellent "historical rumination" that foregrounds science fiction's shifting position in the industrial system of mass media production.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Carl

    I found Rieder's work on science fiction a few years back in the article that became chapter two of this book. I found it so, so helpful. When I first read it, I remember thinking, "Wow, this is the best thing I've read on science fiction as a genre." Imagine my excitement when I saw that he had developed his argument into a whole book. I flipped my lid. The book pays off. It was even more than I had hoped for, actually. I find that it's a deft and searching exploration of genre theory through s I found Rieder's work on science fiction a few years back in the article that became chapter two of this book. I found it so, so helpful. When I first read it, I remember thinking, "Wow, this is the best thing I've read on science fiction as a genre." Imagine my excitement when I saw that he had developed his argument into a whole book. I flipped my lid. The book pays off. It was even more than I had hoped for, actually. I find that it's a deft and searching exploration of genre theory through science fiction, and science fiction through genre theory. Plenty historical and theoretical, but also plenty detailed, with some great case studies. Rieder makes a significant contribution to the efforts to grapple with science fiction as a category of analysis and cultural production. For me this is right up there with Seo Young-Chu's Do Metaphors Dream..., Camille Bacon-Smith's Science Fiction Culture, Samuel Delany's mindblowing essays, the Cambridge Companion edited by Farah Mendlesohn, the encyclopedia from Clute and crew, and Jessica Langer's Postcolonialism and Science Fiction. (I haven't read Seven Beauties of Science Fiction yet but that's on my list.) Rieder's book is just a super helpful tool for positioning and discussing what we're talking about when we're talking about SF. Building on his previous work in colonialism and science fiction, Rieder’s book begins with an assessment of the scholarship on mass culture and the media flows of the early twenty-first century, when science fiction gained currency as a genre identifier. Drawing together analyses of educational curriculum, technologies of publication, and the social production and distribution of literacy itself, Rieder makes the case for understanding science fiction as a social convention familiar to authors, editors, booksellers, and readers, but often the worse for its encounters with the jagged edges of traditional genre systems that focus more on formalist analysis. Calling on the work of Frederic Jameson, John Frow, Delleuze and Guattari, Bowker and Starr, and Gary Westfahl, among many others, Rieder traces a history of what SF has meant and currently means to people in the world. Rather than being a lens that sees the genre as some kind of freestanding thing that is somehow coherent external to human relationships and decisions, Rieder works to reveal that there are always a variety of human investments and human motives at work in defining and employing the idea of science fiction. Rieder offers an analysis grounded in the social history of texts rather than their formal characteristics. His argument ranges backward in time to the various texts that have become touchpoints in the debates about where science fiction began. He also pushes forward to the present in tracking the roles of science fiction across various forms of media. Along the way, the book explores and engages the ways that artists and fans have navigated and channeled the shifting ideas about what science fiction is, how we can know it when we see it, and who it belongs to as a literary strategy and a locus for community formation. Ur-texts make frequent appearances in the early going, with a careful reception study of Frankenstein taking pride of place. Further case studies draw insights from the work and experiences of Philip K. Dick, women fans and writers making gains for feminism in the 1970s (this is where he really reminded me of Bacon-Smith), and more recent examples of Afrofuturism and indigenous futurism in North America. Rieder’s book thus creates a “sketch of the history of SF” that shows the genre to be a “product of multiple communities of practice whose motives and resources may have little resemblance to one another” (11), but whose work we would all identify, somehow, as science fiction. Drawing on his forays in genre theory and the various well-designed case studies, Rieder closes the book by offering a new periodization of science fiction that focuses on the ideological power of the genre. I will certainly be coming back to this book a lot in any future work I put into theorizing around the idea of science fiction.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Jm_oriol

  7. 5 out of 5

    Emily Blount

  8. 4 out of 5

    Gareth Beniston

  9. 5 out of 5

    Brent

  10. 5 out of 5

    Kat

  11. 5 out of 5

    Lily Gellman

  12. 5 out of 5

    Sean Guynes

  13. 4 out of 5

    Kimon Mrkts

  14. 4 out of 5

    Silvan Spicer

  15. 5 out of 5

    William Milliken

  16. 5 out of 5

    Ashglass

  17. 4 out of 5

    Pau

  18. 5 out of 5

    Amy

  19. 4 out of 5

    Artem

  20. 5 out of 5

    Ariya

  21. 4 out of 5

    Julia

  22. 4 out of 5

    Wm

  23. 4 out of 5

    Jude

  24. 4 out of 5

    Sean

  25. 5 out of 5

    Emily

  26. 4 out of 5

    Ştefan Tiron

  27. 5 out of 5

    John

  28. 5 out of 5

    Rebecca

  29. 4 out of 5

    Wazzle

  30. 5 out of 5

    Alexander Popov

  31. 5 out of 5

    Philip Palios

  32. 4 out of 5

    D. B. Jacquart

  33. 4 out of 5

    ~Geektastic~

  34. 4 out of 5

    Denise Nader

  35. 4 out of 5

    John

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