Document Type


Date of Degree

Fall 2018

Degree Name

PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)

Degree In


First Advisor

Stecopoulos, Harilaos

First Committee Member

Glass, Loren

Second Committee Member

Fox, Claire

Third Committee Member

Creekmur, Corey

Fourth Committee Member

Voyce, Stephen


This project examines how a subset of contemporary American literary cross-genre authors use popular forms within their fiction to comment on, interact with, and critique the possibilities of formula fiction and modern fan communities. I argue that the historic feminization of the popular (set against the stoicism of realism), combined with the startlingly masculine histories of popular genres like science fiction and fantasy, has resulted in distinct differences in the style and aims of male and female authors utilizing hybrid forms. The writers comprising the focus of this study, Junot Díaz, Michael Chabon, Margaret Atwood, and Kelly Link, create a range of competing modes of genre mixing that clarify the lingering effects of popular genre’s marginalization by the literary elite and the academy.

The chapters of this project move through these modes by examining, respectively, toxic nerd fantasies and fandoms, the impact of fan fiction and its universalizing impulse, the rise of “speculative fiction,” and the role of domestic fabulism in reimagining the limited frameworks of realism and celebrating the possibilities of mass tropes and forms. Each of these chapters interrogates the author’s impact on the developing field of the new American literary genre fiction, linking their public personas as fans and scholars of genre to the attitudes and ideologies advanced by their fiction. These projects, anti-imperialist or feminist in nature, make self-conscious arguments about the value of the popular genres with which they interact. By focusing on the links between the author’s persona, public reception, and cultural fandoms, and the impact of these elements on contemporary cross-genre fiction, I attempt to revitalize genre theory in a manner that challenges its historically hierarchal configurations, particularly for women authors and consumers of the popular.


American, fabulism, fiction, genre, popular, science fiction


vii, 177 pages


Includes bibliographical references (pages 162-177).


Copyright © 2018 Katlyn E Williams