March 2, 2007
Pulp in Providence
Pulp Uncovered Festival Explores Controversial Roots of Pop Icons
Brown University’s Public Humanities Program hosts Pulp Uncovered, a community festival celebrating the impact and legacy of pulp fiction magazines, from Thursday, March 15, through Sunday, March 18, 2007. The festival includes a film series, guest speakers, an exhibition at the John Nicholas Brown Center, and other community events. All events are open to the public.
PROVIDENCE, R.I. — The Public Humanities Program at Brown University will host Pulp Uncovered, a community festival celebrating the history of pulp fiction magazines and their notorious influence on American popular culture, from Thursday, March 15, through Sunday, March 18, 2007. The festival, which includes a film series, panel discussions, an exhibition at the John Nicholas Brown Center, and other community events, coincides with the 70th anniversary of the death of Providence pulp writer H.P. Lovecraft, considered by some as the father of the modern horror genre.
In the first half of the 20th century, cheap pulp fiction magazines featured stories flaunting violence and promiscuous sex. The pulps were condemned by moralists and scorned by the upper class, even as they became increasingly popular. Amidst this cultural clash, pulp magazines helped spawn some of today’s most enduring icons: Batman, Zorro, Buck Rogers, Tarzan and iconic characters like the sassy Femme Fatale and hardboiled detectives such as Philip Marlowe and Sam Spade.
“Americans unleashed their collective imagination in the pages of the pulps,” says festival director Scott Tiffany, a second-year graduate student in Brown’s Public Humanities Program. “These magazines helped solidify the pop genres of sci-fi, the hardboiled detective, and the modern horror story with writers like H.P. Lovecraft. Since Lovecraft’s home actually sat on Brown’s campus, the festival is a fun and interesting way to explore pulp history on a local and larger level.”
The festival kicks off on Thursday, March 15, with a keynote address by pulp writer and historian Will Murray at 6 p.m. in Smith-Buonanno Hall, Room 106. A reception immediately follows for the opening of the exhibition Pulp Uncovered: How Pulp Magazines Changed America at 7 p.m. at the John Nicholas Brown Center, 357 Benefit St. The exhibition explores the story behind the popularity of pulp fiction magazines and takes visitors behind the scenes of the creation of pulp fiction. It also highlights the work of Lovecraft, featuring copies of the pulp magazines in which he wrote, original manuscripts, and letters about his work. The Pulp Uncovered exhibit will be open during the festival from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Regular hours will be Tuesday through Saturday from 1 to 4 p.m. The Pulp Uncovered exhibit runs through June 1 and is free and open to the public.
The Pulp Uncovered film series features movies “ripped from the pages of pulp magazines,” including classic and modern film noirs, horror stories, and international films inspired by the pulp aesthetic. The film series will take place at the Cable Car Cinema, 204 South Main St., and at the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) Auditorium, located on the corner of College and North Main Street. For a complete film schedule, visit www.pulpuncovered.com.
The festival also features several speakers, art talks, and panel discussions about the roots of pulp fiction writing, its artists, and those who published the magazines.
Renowned Lovecraft scholar and Brown alumnus S.T. Joshi will discuss Lovecraft’s legacy at noon on Friday, March 16, at the John Nicholas Brown Center. Experts will cover Lovecraft’s fascination with outer space and the time he spent at the Ladd Observatory during a panel discussion, titled “Lovecraft at the Ladd,” on Friday, March 16, at 7 p.m. at Brown University’s Ladd Observatory, 210 Doyle Ave. The controversial ways that pulp magazines portrayed sexuality, gender and minorities will be discussed by a panel of historians in “The Femme Fatale and the Gumshoe: Gender in the Pulps” on Saturday, March 17, at 4 p.m. at the John Nicholas Brown Center. Local painters and graphic artists who have been influenced by pulp fiction magazines and art will show and discuss their own work at a panel, titled “The Art of Pulp Fiction,” on Sunday, March 18 at 3 p.m. at the RISD Museum, 224 Benefit St.
On Saturday, March 17, at 7 p.m. at the John Nicholas Brown Center, playwrights from Brown’s literary arts graduate program present “Pulp Plays” – their interpretations of classic pulp fiction cover art, in readings of new plays commissioned for the Pulp Uncovered festival.
Two Lovecraft walking tours are scheduled in conjunction with the festival. The Rhode Island Historical Society’s tour, “H.P. Lovecraft Life and Works,” will begin on Saturday, March 17, at 11 a.m. at the Van Wickle Gates, College and Prospect streets. Reservations can be made by calling (401) 273-7507 ext. 62. On Sunday, March 18, the Providence Preservation Society will hold its walking tour titled “H.P. Lovecraft as Preservationist: A Walking Tour of Providence’s East Side.” It begins at 1 p.m. from 21 Meeting St. Reservations can be made by calling (401) 831-7440. Each tour costs $10.
Visit www.pulpuncovered.com for an updated listing of festival events.
Pulp Uncovered Schedule of
Thursday, March 15
Friday, March 16
Saturday, March 17
Sunday, March 18
The Brown University Public Humanities Program
The Brown University Public Humanities Program trains students to become interpreters of the humanities for the public and mediators between the academy and the public. The graduates of this program share and merge the expertise and ways of knowing of humanities scholars and of communities, building a new, broadly based understanding of the arts, culture and community.
The program is housed in Brown University’s John Nicholas Brown Center for the Study of American Civilization, the University’s center for the public humanities. It supports students and faculty who connect the public to history, art, and culture.
Editors: Brown University has a fiber link television studio available for domestic and international live and taped interviews, and maintains an ISDN line for radio interviews. For more information, call (401) 863-2476.