Thursday, April 12, 2012 - 9:45am - 11:15am
Looking at Character and Conflict in Popular Romance through the Johari Window
Chryssa Sharp - Lindenwood University
As the discipline of Popular Romance studies grows, one question is what models and theories can other fields contribute to the discussion of Romance studies? Since one of the central elements of a romance novel is that, “the main plot centers around two individuals falling in love and struggling to make the relationship work” (“About the Romance Genre”), one way to analyze the romantic story is to focus on the factors which influence the nature of the relationship between the hero and heroine (or hero/hero; heroine/heroine). In this regard, the field of Organizational Behavior can provide some unique perspectives through which to do this analysis. Organizational Behavior is the study of how people behave in organizations. For the purposes of this paper, “organization” will be defined as the community within which the hero/heroine function.
The Johari Window is a tool for analyzing interpersonal interactions as well as people’s perceptions of themselves and others. The four quadrants of the Johari Window are derived from the idea of what information is known to the “self” and to “others” with the different quadrants being classified as open (known to both), blind (known to others, unknown to self), hidden (known to self, unknown to others) and unknown areas (unknown to both) (Luft). This information could pertain to values, attitudes, beliefs, experiences, goals, desires, needs etc., in short, the many internal building blocks of both characterization and conflict used by Romance authors to build a story. (A diagram of the Johari Window is attached.)
Awareness grounded in the ideas of the Johari Window can help people become more comfortable with each other and/or identify and explain sources of conflict. It is this latter point which could be of particular interest for scholars of Romance fiction. What techniques are authors using to build inter-personal conflict and tension into the Romance? How are these conflicts resolved? What roles do the people around the couple – friends, family and co-workers – play in shifting the frames of the Johari Window, thus aiding or hindering the couple on their path to romantic resolution?
On a more meta level, do certain authors favor particular positioning of their protagonists? How do these authors move both protagonists to the Open Area – the quadrant which helps support a relationship?
Eternal Love: representations of the "post-HEA" in Nora Roberts' and J.R. Ward's popular romance fiction
An Goris - University of Leuven
The Happy Ever After – or HEA – is often considered one of the most salient narrative characteristics of the contemporary popular romance novel, which traditionally ends on this happy note of promised everlasting romantic happiness. Yet in recent years, in part due to the proliferation of narrative series in the romance genre, popular romance novels increasingly frequently contain scenes that are located in what I call the “post-HEA” – i.e. the time in the fictional world after the HEA has been established. In this paper I explore the representations of such post-HEA scenes in paranormal romance series by Nora Roberts and J.R. Ward, two of the genre’s most popular authors. While post-HEA scenes are extensively featured in both Roberts’ and Ward’s paranormal series, a number of significant differences between these representations exist. In this paper I suggest that an analysis of these differences provides crucial insights not only into Roberts’ and Ward’s respective authorial voices, but also into how the complex conceptual functioning of the HEA in the romance generic narrative is complicated and potentially subverted by the narrative representation of the post-HEA. As such this paper then contributes to a better understanding of the romance’s happy ending, which is not only one of the genre’s most crucial but also one of its most maligned characteristics.
Romancing the Adaptation: The Princess Bride as a Classic Tale of True Love
Lindsay Hayes - University of Oklahoma
It’s been said that there are two kinds of people- those who love The Princess Bride and those who have not seen it. 25 years after the film’s release, its status as a cult classic is unquestioned. But what about the novel upon which the film is based? This paper will explore The Princess Bride as an adaptation.
Portrayals of romance in the book and film will be explored. What elements of plot and character are depicted as being particularly romantic or the ideal of romance? The characterization of love will also be examined. What makes this a story of “true love?” How is love shown by one character for another? Differences in depictions of romance and love in the novel versus the film are discussed. The novel and film as metanarrative will also be considered.
Other subsequent adaptations will also be explored in brief.
A Union Heart: Josie Underwood's Civil War Romance
Amelia Serafine - Loyola University, Chicago
“He is not the hero of my heart with his disunion ideas!” This quote comes to us from the Civil War diary of Kentucky slave-holding unionist Josie Underwood. Underwood speaks of her frustrating secessionist beau, a theme which is recurrent and intermingled with descriptions of the sentimental romantic literature she both consumed and imagined for herself. This diary, and others like it, offers a rich and nuanced understanding of the expression of female lives, and through an understanding of the language and tropes utilized, their political expressions as well. As a wealthy Southern woman raised in leisure, novel reading was an emotionally and intellectually important part of Underwood’s life. Her diary illustrates the manner in which Underwood articulated herself through the familiar medium of sentimental literature, and integrated her politics into that medium in ways specific to the crisis of disunion.
This presentation is part of a larger work which explores Southern women’s expressions of self during the Civil War. In the case of Josie Underwood, her sense of self was articulated through sentimental romance, a language which both complicated and realized her political beliefs. Ultimately, Underwood married her romantic ideals with her Union politics, spurring the much-beloved Tom Grafton. For Underwood, the novels she read gave her a language in which to imagine romantic sentiment as political action. Her diary speaks to the utilization of romantic elements in women’s political choices, and suggests that for many, romantic literature was or could easily become a political tool.