Monday, September 07, 2009

Reviewing the (Academic) Literature of Love

Eric Selinger's opening up discussion about the works that people would like to review and see reviewed in the Journal of Popular Romance Studies (JPRS):
In the current Call for Submissions to JPRS we say that "The Journal also solicits reviews (individual and combined) of relevant scholarly works."

To my mind, this doesn’t simply mean works on popular romance fiction, but rather on anything that might be "relevant" to our work as Romance Scholars, broadly construed. This would include books on love per se, as well as books on representations of love in various instances of popular culture (TV shows, movies, music, websites, etc.). Scholarly work on sexuality, gender, race, and other fields might be "relevant," depending on the book, and thus in need of our attention.

If you are interested in reviewing scholarly books for JPRS, please email me and let me know your areas of interest and something about your relevant background or work in progress. I’ll pass that on to Nicki Salcedo, our Book Review editor.

If you can think of recent or forthcoming books that would be relevant, and that ought to be reviewed, please let me know that as well! I’m painfully aware of the gaps in my own knowledge at the moment: What are the books out there on romance in film, on representations of love & romance in pop music or advertising? Are there new books on love or sex that romance scholars really ought to know?

I’ve opened a discussion about this over at the IASPR Forum, so you can post responses there. Please feel free to pass this message along to potential reviewers and to anyone you know at a publishing house who might have books that need attention!
As he says, there's a discussion thread at the IASPR Forum and over there he brings up
other question we might talk about in this topic: how new do the works have to be? JPRS is a brand new journal, and IASPR is a brand new association, but the study of love and its representation in culture goes back a very long way. Would it be useful to have reviews, or quasi-reviews, of books from several years ago? What about decades ago?


  1. This isn't a totally on topic query but I wanted to comment on a recent article to maximise the chance of people reading and replying!

    I'm organising a colloquium on Georgette Heyer in Cambridge and wondered whether I am right in thinking that this is the first conference dedicated to her works? My interest in Heyer is an amateur one, essentially, so apologies if there have in fact been several already!


  2. I don't know of any previous ones, but obviously that doesn't mean that there hasn't been one. There are lots of things I don't know about ;-)

    The romance conferences I do know about are listed here (there are some listed in the body of the post and a few more in the comments section).

    I did a quick Google search and turned up a recent article in the Guardian in which Alison Flood mentions the forthcoming Lucy Cavendish colloquium:

    With such topics lining up for discussion as "Lady of Quality and Homosexual Panic", "The Nonesuch as Didactic Love Fiction" and "The Thermodynamics of Georgette Heyer", how could I resist? I first started reading Heyer's Regency romances when I was about 13, burying myself in my mother's old, battered copies, loving her beautiful but spirited heroines – often wearing "cascades of guinea-gold hair", which at the time I felt had something to do with guinea pigs – and her stern-but-kind, masterful heroes.

    They are still the books I turn to when I'm in need of comfort reading (and Horry, she of the big eyebrows and the stammer in A Convenient Marriage, is still my favourite) so I shall definitely be visiting Cambridge's Lucy Cavendish College in November, where they're holding a one-day conference on re-reading Georgette Heyer. Will it spoil the books for me? Will they hold up to such close scrutiny? I don't know, but I want to find out

    It's nice to see the conference getting this kind of pre-publicity, particularly in the light of the last paragraph of Jane Aiken Hodge's biography of Heyer (2006), which I've just been re-reading:

    "If anyone could make the romantic novel respectable, it should have been Georgette Heyer [...] It did not happen in her lifetime, and she minded silently [...] It would be a suitable irony, and no surprise, if a reappraisal in the next few years were to give her work the critical acclaim it never achieved in her lifetime." (210)

  3. Many thanks Laura! That's very helpful - I had an email enquiry following the Guardian blog otherwise I would probably have missed it.

  4. I think I didn't mention that the Popular Culture Association/American Culture Association have had romance panels at their annual conference for a while, but obviously those weren't entire conferences dedicated to romance.

    I've just come across mention of a couple of papers about Heyer which were given at non-romance conferences by Karin E. Westman:

    "A Sentimental Education?: Georgette Heyer's Regency Romance and the Young Adult Reader." Fifth Biennial Conference on Modern Critical Approaches to Children's Literature. Nashville, TN. April, 2003.

    "'A Story of Her Own Weaving': The Self-Determining Heroines of Georgette Heyer's Regency Romance." South Atlantic Modern Language Association Conference. Atlanta, GA. November, 1999. [This one has now been published as "'A Story of Her Weaving': The Self-Authoring Heroines of Georgette Heyer's Regency Romance." Doubled Plots: Romance and History. Eds. Susan Strehle and Mary Paniccia Carden. Jackson and London: University Press of Mississippi, 2003. 165-184.]