As I've already announced in an earlier post, next winter I will give a course on British romance fiction at Mainz University. It will be one of our (brandnew) undergrad seminars 1, which are intended to give students a historical overview of one particular genre.
I've chosen a mixture of a chronological and thematic approach for the course, and these are the thematic blocks I've come up with so far:
1 Reading the Romance
This block will probably include a mini-history of the genre, and we will read excerpts from theoretical works on romance fiction (probably Radway, Flesch, Regis).
2 Austen Ever After
Austen's lasting influence on the genre.
Jane Austen, Pride & Prejudice (I've taught P&P once before, and it was great fun for me to incorporate the research I had done for my novels in the course)
Georgette Heyer, Regency Buck (aka the book I'm currently reading; at the moment I'm thinking about what would be the best way to give the students access to the wealth of historical background in the novel - more presentations, perhaps?)
Helen Fielding, Bridget Jones's Diary
Alexandra Potter, Me and Mr Darcy
3 Gothic Delights
Victoria Holt, Mistress of Mellyn (that will be a nice trip back into my own past: in my teens I read umpteen of Holt's novels)
the gothic novel as a genre
4 101 Years of Mills & Boon
probably Lucy Gordon, The Italian's Wife by Sunset
the history of M&B
I'm not yet quite sure what to do with Barbara Cartland. I'll definitely have to mention her somewhere, somehow, especially as her heroines are so very different from Heyer's. I'm also thinking about including Hull's The Sheik on the reading list, but I still have to read it myself before I decide where and how to place it. Of course, I also have to consider the time frame of the course: I've already got four novels I want to discuss, and I need two lessons for each at the very least.
So what do you think?