“I Used to Be a Highbrow but Look at Me Now”

Phrenology, Detection, and Cultural Hierarchy in S. S. Van Dine

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About the Book

This article reads Willard Huntington Wright’s work against his anxieties about cultural hierarchy and value, utilizing archival work in Wright’s papers at the University of Virginia and unearthing a previously unknown series of crime stories that he published under another pseudonym a decade before his success as bestselling detective novelist S. S. Van Dine. The author argues that Wright’s work in popular fiction provides a special opportunity for interrogating the highbrow/lowbrow divide and its phrenological roots. This article originally appeared in Clues: A Journal of Detection, Volume 30, Issue 1.

About the Author(s)

Brooks E. Hefner is assistant professor of English at James Madison University in Virginia. His research interests include modernist American literature, popular genres, and film history. His work has appeared in PMLA and MELUS, and he is working on the book manuscript Modernistic: The American Language of Vernacular Modernism.

Bibliographic Details

Brooks E. Hefner
Format: E-Single
Pages: 12
Bibliographic Info:
Copyright Date: 2012
eISBN: 978-1-4766-2480-8