Spring Symposium 2023 – The Genre Boom: Humanities and the Rise of Genre Fiction

Spring Symposium 2023 – The Genre Boom: Humanities and the Rise of Genre Fiction


March 24, 2023 | 1:15 pm
- March 24, 2023 | 3:00 pm


Grucci Room (102 Burrowes Building)

Spring Symposium 2023 - The Genre Boom: Humanities and the Rise of Genre Fiction

The CALS Spring Symposium returns with a panel discussion on "The Genre Boom: Humanities and the Rise of Genre Fiction."

The last several decades have seen the rise of genre fiction not only in its omnipresence but also in its increasing cultural capital. Literary fiction by writers like Colson Whitehead, Kazuo Ishiguro, and Cormac McCarthy borrow tropes from sci-fi and fantasy fiction, receiving prestigious literary prizes in return. The pulpiest of genres, from hard-boiled detective fiction to harlequin romance, proliferate in number and kind, while migrating across media, reshaping film, television, and video games. This symposium asks how literary, cultural, and media studies have transformed in response to the genre boom and how they might continue to evolve in the future. What might scholars and critics learn from changes in genre fiction and its reception? What concepts or methods are adequate to these ongoing transformations? Does the scholarly turn to genre raise the possibility of new academic institutions, as well as new critical practices?


  • Alexis Lothian, Associate Professor of Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, University of Maryland. Alexis Lothian is the author of Old Futures: Speculative Fiction and Queer Possibility (NYU Press 2018). She’s currently working on two book projects, one on the politics of fantasy in slash fan fiction and one on the history of social justice discourse in online fan culture.
  • Rebekah Sheldon, Associate Professor of English and Director of Cultural Studies, Indiana University. Rebekah Sheldon is the author of The Child to Come: Life After the Human Catastrophe (University of Minnesota Press 2016). Her current research is on new materialism and the occult.
  • Jennifer Wagner-Lawlor, Professor of Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies and English, Penn State. Jennifer Wagner-Lawlor has published dozens of articles, and two utopia related books: a monograph, Postmodern Utopias and Feminist Fictions (Cambridge University Press 2013) and The Palgrave Handbook of Utopian and Dystopian Literatures (2022).
  • Christian P. Haines, Associate Professor of English, Penn State. Christian Haines is the author of A Desire Called America: Biopolitics, Utopia, and the Literary Commons (Fordham University Press 2019). He’s currently working on two books, one on finance capital and contemporary culture, another on capitalism, ecology, and genre fiction.


  • Su Young Lee, Graduate Student, Department of English, Penn State.

Read a recap of the Symposium by CALS Graduate RA Jess Rafalko here.

Genre Boom Poster