Out From The Shadows: Pulp Periodicals And Paperbacks

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The Wolfsonian–FIU, Gift of Vicki Gold Levi

Earlier this month, four Florida International University undergraduate students taking my America & Movies course elected to curate a library installation, In the Shadows: American Pulp Cover Art, for their final class project. The class viewed and critically analyzed twelve films that focused on social problems in America from 1900 to the 1950s. The students were invited to search through and make selections from the library’s “pulp” magazine and paperback collection to investigate some of those same issues. These magazines, published using cheap pulp paper and glossy covers with lurid and salacious cover art, were marketed to male audiences interested in exotic adventure and “true-crime” detective stories.

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The Wolfsonian–FIU, Gift of Francis Xavier Luca & Clara Helena Palacio Luca

Provoked by the current controversies surrounding the “demonization” of Muslims, Joseph Perez looked for historical antecedents in pulp literature. In The Wolfsonian’s library collection, he discovered a number of young men’s adventure magazines from the 1930s with cover art stereotyping Middle Easterners and North Africans as menacing Muslims.

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The Wolfsonian–FIU, Gifts of Francis Xavier Luca & Clara Helena Palacio Luca

Another of the students, Erica Melamed, was interested in the increasingly sexualized depictions of women used to sell periodicals and paperback novels in the 1930s, ’40s, and ’50s.

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The Wolfsonian–FIU, Gifts of Francis Xavier Luca & Clara Helena Palacio Luca

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The Wolfsonian–FIU, Gifts of Vicki Gold Levi

Tiffany Breslawski focused her energies on periodical covers with gangsters, kidnappers, femme fatales, and damsels in distress.

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The Wolfsonian–FIU, Gifts of Francis Xavier Luca & Clara Helena Palacio Luca

Finally, Mauriel (“Junior”) Fernandez set his sights on the pulps in which Nazi thugs and Japanese warmongers and saboteurs muscled out the criminal competition on wartime adventure and true-crime detective magazine covers.

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The Wolfsonian–FIU, Gifts of Francis Xavier Luca & Clara Helena Palacio Luca

This coming Tuesday, The Wolfsonian will be hosting a members-only library salon event celebrating the library installation. The reception will include a tour of the installation and a lecture presentation on the interplay between pre-code and film noir movies and pulp magazine cover art. Join us for an evening of gun-wielding gangsters, hard-boiled detectives, femme fatales, and damsels in distress!

RSVP to anelson@thewolf.fiu.edu / 305.535.2656 if you’d like to attend.

~ by "The Chief" on May 10, 2017.

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