Education for Fun and Profit: Traditions of Popular College Fiction in the United States, 1875-1945
The college novel has a long tradition in American popular literature. The vitality of the tradition is evident in diverse works capturing the popular imagination in recent years. These range from nostalgia stories romanticizing student radicalism, such as the film The Big Chill, or fast times sorts of stories such as Animal House, which has achieved cinematic cult status, to an array of novels treating the experience of college life. This chapter explores the pulp fiction roots of this rich tradition. In particular, core thematic elements of popular college fiction will be described and placed in sociohistorical context.