Although frequently ignored or ridiculed by critics and academics, contemporary genre fiction can trace its roots back to some of the most well-known and studied writers from the 19th century. This course will focus its attention on these heady genre roots, working through the rom-coms of Jane Austen, the post-apocalyptic thrillers of Mary Shelley, tackling the rise of the vampyre novel and gothic novels, with specific attention paid to Stoker and the Brontës, exploring the earliest detective stories and novels of Edgar Allen Poe and Arthur Conan Doyle and Wilkie Collins, the thrilling science-fiction novels of Verne and Wells, with a quick detour into the sea-faring adventure tales of Robert Louis Stevenson. We’ll discuss the notion of genre as an art form, the narrative and structural innovations employed by these 19th-century authors as they began to toy with and undo the modern novel (barely in its own infancy), as well as their influence on the modernists who followed them in the early 20th century. Then we will argue about contemporary genre fiction, the separation between literary fiction and the genres, and see if we can bridge this divide, or maybe make the divide even wider. Students will be responsible for class presentations and critical essays.