Everyday Evil in Stephen King’s America: Essays, Images, Paratexts

Jason S. Polley (Editor), Stephanie Laine Hamilton (Editor)

    Research output: Book/ReportBook or reportpeer-review


    This edited collection variously interrogates how everyday evil manifests in Stephen King’s now-familiar American imaginary; an imaginary that increases the representational limits of both anticipated and experienced realism. Divided into three parts: I. The Man, II. The Monster, and III. The Re-mediator, the book offers rigorous readings of evil, realism, and popular culture as represented in a range of texts (and paratexts) from the King canon. Rich with images, a photo-essay, and appendices collecting classical texts and cultural detritus germane to King, this book moves away from viewing King’s work primarily through the lens of the “American gothic” and toward the realism that the suspense novelist’s voice (fictional and non-) and influence (literary and popular) indelibly continue to amplify, all the while complicating the traditional divide between serious literature and popular fiction. 

    Stephen King remains perpetually popular. And he is finally receiving the academic treatment he has craved since the early 1980s. Yet still unexamined in the King critical canon is the suspense novelist’s fascination with “everyday evil.” Beyond rigorous interrogations of King’s fictional depictions of “everyday evil” by an array of scholars of different ranks living around the world (Canada, Finland, Hong Kong, the UK), the book, replete with 20 images, considers how King widens the parameters of literary production and appreciation. An integral part of the Americana that King’s five-decades-in-the-making canon configures, of course, includes King himself. King has long made use of self-referentiality in his fiction and nonfiction. Some of his nonfiction, several of our essays reveal, recirculates in paratextual form as “Prefatory Remarks” to new novels or new editions of older ones. The paratexts considered here (both across the volume and in the appendices) offer alternate ways by which to appreciate King and his sphere of influence (literary and popular). Said appendices are a grouping of King’s paratexts on his writing as Bachman, appearing here, for the first time, as a cohesive collection. King’s influence took off in the 1970s, as is further explored in the book-enveloping three-part photo-essay “King’s America, America’s King: Stephen King & Popular Culture since the 1970s.” About the transformative quality of “everyday evil,” the photo-essay tracks the cultural impacts of King first as an emerging author, then a pop culture phenomenon, and, finally, as an established American literary voice. 

    Everyday Evil in Stephen King’s America is designed to appeal to teachers and students of American literature, to Stephen King enthusiasts, as well as to acolytes of Americana since the Vietnam War.

    Original languageEnglish
    Place of PublicationLondon
    Number of pages198
    ISBN (Electronic)9781003404255
    ISBN (Print)9781032518596
    Publication statusPublished - 3 Jun 2024

    Scopus Subject Areas

    • Arts and Humanities(all)


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