One of the panels at the Mid-Atlantic Popular/American Culture Association's Annual Conference will be on "Popular Culture and Activism":
Popular Culture and Activism welcomes papers or presentations that explore the sphere of activism in the production of popular culture. Whether historical or contemporary, investigations into the role of activism in shaping popular culture or the role of popular culture in shaping activism are encouraged. Possible topics might include the way individual activists or groups have utilized popular media or sought to influence popular media. Other issues to consider are: how have activist groups been portrayed in popular culture? What forms of activism are being employed on college campuses or in local communities, and how does this tie in with or shape popular culture? What are the political or ideological implications of popular culture as reflected in television shows, films, music videos, the internet, magazines, fiction, etc.Submissions are due by the 30th of June.
Just recently it was mentioned at Dear Author that
Donna Hayes, Harlequin’s Publisher and CEO is the recipient of this year’s “W Award” presented by the YWCA of the City of New York. Ms. Hayes is being recognized not only as a business woman at the top of her field, but also for supporting the YWCA’s mission to empower women and eliminate discrimination through the books she and Harlequin Enterprises publishes each month.According to Shelf Awareness
Created in 2005, the YWCA-NYC’s W Award honors women and companies that embody the YW’s mission to empower women and eliminate racism. [...] In a statement, Anne Winters-Bishop, the YWCA-NYC’s CEO noted that Hayes is the first woman to run the company since Harlequin was founded in Winnipeg in 1949, and added: "Above all, [Hayes] stresses Harlequin’s mission to entertain, enrich and inspire women."Just a few of the other instances of romance-related activism I can think of are
- the Romance Writers of America's
- Brenda Novak's annual online auction in aid of research into diabetes
- Suzanne Brockmann's decision
- and Nora Roberts' offer to
"Readers for Life" Literacy Autographing [which] has become one of the most popular events at RWA's annual conference. More than 500 romance authors participate in this two-hour autographing event, and each year we raise thousands of dollars, which are donated to ProLiteracy Worldwide. Since 1990, RWA has donated more than $600,000 to literacy charities.
to continue Jules and Robin's story and do what I'd originally intended -- make them the hero and hero of a mainstream romance novel. I also decided to turn the concept of the holiday romance novella onto its ear by writing a story centered around Jules and Robin's wedding, set in Boston.
And I decided that every single penny I earned from this book, from now until the end of time -- all advances, royalties, subrights, the whole enchilada -- would go to MassEquality, an organization whose sole purpose is to preserve equal marriage rights in
. Because enough is enough. Massachusetts
match up to $5,000.00 USD any donations made by Smart Bitches readers to Defenders of Wildlife, a 501(c)3 nonprofit that works to preserve not just ferrets but endangered wildlife across the US, most particularly that species much loved by paranormal romance writers: the wolf.
Season of Storm by Alexandra Sellars [sic], a 1983 SuperRomance [...] The hero [...] is a Native who is fighting the Canadian government and a logging company for the restoration of his tribe's land rights. The book refers to ruthless corporate policies that place profits before people, to the short life span of Native people, to the police state mentality of the RCMP and to the pervasive racism that even the heroine is forced to acknowledge is part of her and her society. (81-82)While I wouldn't want to overstate the amount of activism that is undertaken by romance authors and readers, or which occurs in romances, the above examples demonstrate that despite being considered "escapist" fiction, romance protagonists, their authors, and readers are not infrequently involved in far from escapist activities.
- Dandridge, Rita B. Black Women's Activism: Reading African American Women's Historical Romances. African American Literature and Culture 5. New York: Peter Lang, 2004. [Two of the novels analysed in that book, Beverly Jenkins’ Indigo (1996) and Shirley Hailstock’s Clara’s Promise (1995), are the subject of an earlier essay, "African American Women's Historical Romances: Race and Gender Revisited," which can be found on pages 42-56 of The 2000-2003 Proceedings of the SW/Texas PCA/ACA Conference. This essay is available online.]
- Jensen, Margaret Ann. Love's $weet Return: The Harlequin Story. Toronto, Ontario: The Women's Educational Press, 1984. [Excerpts available via Google Books.]