Nothing is more irritating to a writer than to suggest their writing is useless. If you're a writer of so-called genre fiction, I'll bet this happens to you all the time, even if it's covertly.
I have news for anyone who thumbs their noses at the likes of Stephen King, Peter Straub, and Nora Roberts, in favor of the works of Charles Dickens, Henry James, and Jane Austen. Those so-called Literature writers are just genre writers of a different age. Think I'm kidding?
A Christmas Story by Charles Dickens = paranormal fantasy
A Turn of the Screw by Henry James = gothic/psychological horror
Pride and Prejudice (or most anything else) by Jane Austen = romance
The only difference between those pieces and the popular pieces of today's genre fiction is how the books are taught and referenced in school. You cannot argue that the themes in those works don't exist in today's works as well. The language used might be a little deeper, but it's only deep to us. In their time, the wrote the common way everyone wrote. The themes are still the same.
For example: Want a fantasy story about the vast differences between how the lower and upper classes are treated, and love that crosses class lines?
- Read: Great Expectations by Charles Dickens, or
- Read: Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman
Another example: Want a vampire romance novel?
- Read: Dracula by Bram Stoker, or
- Read: Guilty Pleasure by Laurell K. Hamilton
So, the next time someone bashes your writing or the writing of a genre author as being less worthwhile than older "literature", whip out some of these examples and see how they react.
Also, remind them to never tangle with an English major when it comes to literature vs. genre fiction. We'll take you down.