I was instantly reminded of a recent comment made by AgTigress who, although she's "really encouraged to see the genre being subjected to serious scholarly analysis" canThe Natural History of the Romance Novel:
How Understanding our Roots Can Help Today's Authors
Write a Compelling Romance Novel
Presented by Teresa Bodwell
August 11 - September 12, 2008
Registration for this class is from July 21, 2008 - August 10, 2008.
This course will track the eight essential elements that define a romance novel according to A Natural History of the Romance Novel by Pamela Regis. Participants will learn how to apply the essential elements to create a compelling, romantic page-turner.
According to Regis, the eight essential elements of a romance novel are:
Society Defined; The Meeting; The Barrier; The Attraction; The Declaration; The Point of Ritual Death; The Recognition; The Betrothal
The workshop will discuss all of these elements using examples from several romance novels. Participants will submit excerpts from their works in progress for comment. Assignments will include: the meeting, the barrier, the attraction and the point of ritual death.
To get the most out of this course, participants should read the following books:
* The Natural History of the Romance Novel by Pamela Regis
* Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
* Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
* Montana Sky by Nora Roberts
* Ain't She Sweet by Susan Elizabeth Phillips
* Scent of Roses by Kat Martin
see some dangers, too. The unselfconsciousness of a genre that is outside the limits of 'serious' consideration has strengths as well as weaknesses: one of the reasons for the sheer inventiveness of romance, the blending with fantasy and fairy-tale, with science fiction and suspense, had to to do with the fact that there were not too many perceived rules, beyond those imposed by the publishers, who had their own ideas (often mistaken) about what would sell.As is apparent from my response to her comment, I'd never thought that we as academics could have much impact on the genre that we write about. Somehow I'd assumed that although what we said might be of interest to some romance authors, it wouldn't really affect their writing. It seems clear I was very wrong.
I am encouraged, though, by what I have learnt about the people who are involved in this more conscious study of the genre. It seems to me that there are many people involved who have a good deal more insight than the traditional literary critic.
I'm sure it's a compliment to Pamela that her work is being considered to have useful, practical, applications by and for romance authors but how do you feel about this feedback loop between romance authors and the academics who study and appreciate the genre?
The image of an "ideal feedback model" came from Wikipedia.