Pulp Fiction is a term used to describe the mass-market paperbacks that proliferated during the early 1900’s. Written for the general entertainment of the mass audience, most of these were fantastic, escapist fiction, depicting bigger-than-life heroes, crime, and exotic places. Looking at these titles through a twenty-first century lens, many of them are now considered racist, or exploitative, and the objectification of women is a recurrent theme. The artwork designed for the covers sold millions of issues, tantalizing readers with depictions of crime, sexuality and violence. The lurid covers, often featuring femme fatale women or male heroes were targeted toward young white men, and can be considered a precursor to the characters in American comic books. A sizable collection of Pulp Fiction paperbacks dating from the 1930's -1960's were donated to the RISD Library Picture Collection by Richard N. Hurley in 2017, at which time the physical covers were removed and added to the circulating collection. The covers presented here were digitized in 2020.
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