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This chapter considers contemporary attitudes toward mass-market fiction. Specifically, it examines the so-called book wars of the late twentieth century in order to outline the era’s structure of feeling. On one hand, mass-market fiction becomes a site for more intense experience (the self-entrepreneurship behind reading and writing advocated by figures like Stephen King). Emotions such as vulnerability and uncertainty become heightened. On the other hand, mass-market fiction serves as a site for increasingly detached calculation (the econometrics of bestselling lists and criticism from figures such as Franco Moretti and Harold Bloom). By considering the way society generally talks about mass-market fiction, we might further investigate what sociologist Eva Illouz describes as the “cold intimacy” of the past fifty years.
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- The Reading, Writing, and Arithmetic of Mass-Market Fiction
Michael J. Blouin
- Chapter 2
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