The study of genre fiction has often had a complicated relationship with the Academy, and no genre has been more warily engaged than the popular romance novel. Recent years, however, have seen renewed and exciting scholarship of the romance novel as a genre that spans high-art and popular literature: books like Pamela Regis’ A Natural History of the Romance Novel, which sets E. M. Forster’s Room With a View alongside E. M. Hull’s The Sheik, or Lynne Pearce’s Romance Writing, which runs from Arthurian legends to Mills & Boon / Harlequin series romance, or Lynn S. Neal’s Romancing God: Evangelical Women and Inspirational Fiction, which draws on Janice Radway’s ethnographic model of literary study, but focuses on the theology, readership, and specifically evangelical aesthetics of Christian romance fiction. The past three years have witnessed international conferences on popular romance in Australia, Europe, and the United States, sponsored by the International Association for the Study of Popular Romance; the association has also begun to publish the peer-reviewed Journal of Popular Romance Studies. In short, although the romance novel is not yet part of mainstream literary studies in the Academy, it is certainly burgeoning field of scholarship. To these ends, this seminar will explore how “first-wave” criticism of popular romance fiction (Janice Radway, Tania Modleski, Ann Snitow, etc.) relates to more recent theorizations of the romance novel, and consider new ways in which the romance novel might be freshly incorporated into academic discussions using Psychoanalysis, Disability Studies, Queer Theory, Critical Race Studies, and other interdisciplinary and comparativist approaches. Moreover, this panel will work to consider how we might begin to incorporate romance novels into our current academic environments.
This seminar will take place -- March 15-18, 2012 -- during the annual North Eastern Modern Language Association's meeting at Rochester, New York. Please send abstracts of 250 words and a brief biographical statement to jonathan.allan [at] utoronto.ca. Deadline for abstracts: September 30, 2011.