Wednesday, March 06, 2013

Conferences Concluded

At the 2012 SWTX ACA/PCA conference Erin Bailey argued that
the application of modern ideals within historical romance novels can be interpreted as a way of amends, or vengeance, for the standards placed on real life women of the British Georgian and Regency periods. Modern historical romance has taken on a crusade for reparations. Readers of the popular historical romance tend to hold dear the belief of equality and individualism (most authors begin as avid readers, so they may fall into the category as reader as well). Unconsciously or consciously, readers and authors alike have propelled this crusade by insinuating those beliefs into the genre. 
Unfortunately I wasn't at the conference so I don't know what evidence Erin advanced in support of her theory (though there is more detail given in the full abstract). On the basis of what she wrote here, though, I think this is an interesting way of thinking about (some?) historical romances because I'm aware that, on occasion, authors are inspired to re-work stories/plots which they feel have the "wrong" ending. A romance might, for instance, feature two star-crossed lovers from feuding families who don't end up like Romeo and Juliet. That's a fictional example, of course, but I imagine it's possible that an author could be inspired by historical accounts of women's lives and wish to give a heroine the happy ending that certain real women were never able to receive.

On the other hand, there's a risk that this "crusade" could erase the history of real women's suffering, and their struggles for equality, in favour of a fictional "reparation." I think that could be a particular problem in "wallpaper" historicals which didn't actually acknowledge the existence of the barriers to women's happiness which they supposedly set out to avenge, or which made those barriers seem easy to overcome.

I don't think there were any presentations on popular romance novels at the "Romantically Inclined" conference held at St. Stephen's College, Delhi, from 23-25 February. Nonetheless, there were some papers on popular culture which I thought might be of interest to readers of TMT, including:

Coming out of the Shoebox: The Remus/Sirius ship in Harry Potter fan fiction
Achala Upendran

(Homo-) Erotically Inclined: Reconfigurations of the Holmes-Watson Relationship in Popular Culture
Sameer Chopra / M.Phil. English / Delhi University

Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi? SRK and the cult of Romance
Anubhav Pradhan/ M.Phil English / Jamia Milia Islamia

"We Are All Stories in the End": The Romance of Space and Time Travel in a Blue Box
Urna Mukherjee, III B.A. (Hons) English, St. Stephen's College

Do Trash-Collectors Dream of (dis)Interested EVEs?: Wall-E, Robot Love, and the Dialectics of Redemption
Arnab Chakraborty & Sujaan Mukherjee/ PG II/ Department of English/ Jadavpur University

"The Love that dare not speak its name": Forbidden Love and Tragic Romances in Fantasy Fiction
Parvathy Rajendra/ Dept. of English/ University of Hyderabad

Romancing the Disabled Body: Re-Thinking Corporeality in the Televised Articulation of Desire and Pleasure in India
Vinita Singh/ M.Phil, Department of English, Delhi University

A Re-reading of African American Slave Narratives as a Discourse of the Romantic Ideal
Shimi M Doley/ Asst. Professor/ Dept. of English/ Jamia Millia Islamia

The full list of papers can be found here.

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