On Monday 16 April Associate Professor William Gleason
and his class who have been studying 'popular works of American literature in their historical contexts' are visiting Romance: By the Blog. Michelle invites romance readers to participate because she sees this as 'a chance to help some smart students of literature develop responsible, informed opinions about the value of romance fiction'. Here's her 'call for readers' and here's the post we're being asked to comment on and contribute to.
Here are some of the questions the students asked:
- Why isn’t Gone With the Wind a romance?
- What’s your favorite part of a romance novel?
- Do you consider romance novels a form of pornography?
- Are you comfortable being seen reading romance novels in public?
- Do you feel the novels objectify women/men, and, if so, does it bother you?
- Would you rather read about a character who’s the epitome of physical perfection, or someone “normal"?
- One of Bill’s students notes that male characters in many of the romances s/he’d read, usually have an almost animalistic sexuality, while the female characters are generally more delicate -- though the heroines are often also strong-willed and intelligent, and appealing to the male for those reasons. "Is this the usual scenario? And what does it mean to have the male played up this way?
- Is there a difference in how women are portrayed in historical romances than, say, in novels set in the present?
- Are there other traces of formal elements at play in [romance] novels that might give them greater literary status than the typical mass-produced, formulaic fiction?
- What’s the appeal of romance to men?
Prof. Gleason last blogged at Romance: By the Blog in 2006 and you can read his post here, in which he gives a bit more detail about the content of the course he teaches.