Speaking of academics, literature vs. popular fiction and Umberto Eco,
I recently attended a lecture Eco gave at Emory University about his
writing process (It was part of a series, but I could only pencil one
in). In it, he talked about his books. As you know, his first novel
The Name of the Rose was a murder mystery set in a medieval monastery
and his second one, Foucalt's Pendulum was a thriller influenced by
American detective fiction. During the course of the lecture, Eco made
the distinction between "high" and "low" culture, which seemed odd to
me, given that he has obviously been influenced very much by "low"
culture. It was a passing comment, which he didn't really expand on,
but it made me grind my teeth a little. Perhaps he went more into what
he considers the distinction between the two to be in one of the other
On Wed, Nov 19, 2008 at 12:10 PM, Lawrence William Coates
> I didn't know this thread was still alive, but I thought I'd mention a book
> I own called "The Poetics of Murder," an anthology of essays by such
> academic lights as Jacques Lacan, Umberto Eco, and Roland Barthes. They
> touch on Sherlock Holmes, Hammett, Chandler, Agatha Christie, et al. So I
> don't think it's fair to say all academics look down on the fiction this
> list esteems (though some do, certainly).
> I'm the author of a couple of novels, and I'm currently trying to write a
> book in the noir tradition. And it's no easier or more difficult than
> anything else I've written. Writing is writing, and good writing takes work.
> So I'm back to work.
> Lawrence Coates
> Associate Professor of Creative Writing
> Bowling Green State University
> From: firstname.lastname@example.org [email@example.com] On Behalf Of
> Michael Jeter [firstname.lastname@example.org]
> Sent: Wednesday, November 19, 2008 10:00 AM
> To: email@example.com
> Subject: Re: RARA-AVIS: Re: half-time job for mystery novelist
> And I supppose I should have piped up. While I no longer plan to
> use it for my thesis -- a thesis in composition and rhetoric
> proves much more marketable than what would ammount, in many eyes,
> to another American fiction thesis -- I do plan on writing a book on
> the detective as father/mentor figure.
> And once I get a full time job, while most of my teaching revolves
> around the political essay/speech, I will always look for ways to
> work detective fic into my class.
> Michael Damian Jeter
> New Orleans, LA
> Literacy, Music, and Democracy
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