Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Help a Prof Out? (Non-Western Romances)

Romance scholar and teacher Pamela Regis writes with a question:

I find myself designing an independent study for two honors students who need to study popular romance and non-Western works.  I imagine using written texts or film, but graphic works, digital works--all fair game.  Half of the primary texts need to be non-W in order to pass muster with the assigners of general education tags--our curriculum committee. 
What non-W works in English translation/with English subtitles, accessible to honors undergrads (both students are in our honors program) would you recommend? 
Or, more specifically, for the following list of  W romances, what non-W romances,  would you pair with any of them?   
Austen. Pride and Prejudice
Bronte. Jane Eyre (bildung and romance, in my view)
Crusie. Bet Me
Kinsale. Flowers from the Storm
Shields.  The Republic of Love
Byatt.  Possession
Chase.  Lord of Scoundrels
Heyer.  Civil Contract (my fave Heyer) or Devil's Cub (everyone else's fave Heyer)
Roberts.  Chesapeake Trilogy or Robb first two In Death
James.  When Beauty Tamed the Beast
Ward.  Dark Lover
SEP. Heaven, Texas
Jenkins.  Indigo 
Nothng sacred about that list.  If you know of a W/non-W pairing that makes sense, I'd love to hear of it. 
This came in at the RomanceScholar listserv, and has already gotten a handful of replies, including some from me (I had some Korean TV-dramas to suggest, and a couple of Indian films).  But we could sure use more help--and if anything comes to mind, we'd love to hear from you!


  1. "Moscow does not believe in tears"

    Hugely popular drama in former SU, the second half is a romance, and I think fairly representative of the attitudes of the time. Won an Oscar, which means there should be subtitles
    I would pair it with Jane Eyre (I know nothing of literary criticism, but this also features a woman of humble beginnings overcoming obstacles, though in a completely different way)

    "Office Romance" -- a romantic comedy
    Harder to find, but versions with subtitles exist
    I'd pair it with Heaven, Texas -- for comedic effect; or possibly with SEP "First Lady" (both comedies featuring powerful women, though in a very different way)

    "The Irony of Fate or Enjoy your Bath" -- another romantic comedy which became a cult movie in the Soviet Union. I know there used to be a subtitled version on YouTube (though don't know if it's legal)
    Not sure what I would pair it with - it's a comedy based on a misunderstanding, but focusing on people's characters. Maybe "Bet Me"?

  2. I think I may not be 'deep' enough for this question, but the first thing that came to mind is "Bride and Prejudice".

    I suspect you're not looking for Bollywood, though...

  3. While I was reading Jane Eyre in college my professor had a girl come in and talk to the class about her work at Oxford looking at the "Arabian Nights" narrative within Jane Eyre which I found very provocative.

    Regarding the last comment, there is a "real" Bollywood film starring Aishwarya Rai called "I Have Found It" tagged as "A Bollywood Adaptation of Sense and Sensibility." Also, it isn't traditionally "Romance" since there are a number of generic differences, but one of my all time favorite movies is a Chinese Film called "Suzhou River" which carries a ton of thematic ties to Hitchcock's "Vertigo."

  4. These are very fun! Thanks--I'll pass them along.

    Isabel, I'll second your suggestion of "I Have Found It." It's a Tamil film, evidently: Very enjoyable, and very interesting, too--I liked it more than B & P, overall.

  5. Are you including tragic romance? I haven't read some of those books. I can't suggest pairings. Maybe you can check the synopses/trailers and decide.

    Caramel is a Lebanese romance/drama:

    The Road Home is a beautiful Chinese romance about a girl who never stops waiting for her love:

    The Servant (2010)* is a Korean Cyrano de Bergerac style romance:

    Petty Romance* is a Korean romcom, girl talks about other guys with her colleague and eventually realizes she wants him:

    Veer Zara is an Indian romance about a girl falling in love, but she's already betrothed to her father's political ally:

    *rated R

  6. Would a South American film count as non-Western? The Secret In Their Eyes, an Argentinian film which won an Oscar in 2010, is a noir/police procedural which has a lovely romance at the centre. Not sure which one I would pair it with, maybe the In Death series (both have very strong heroines, in addition to the police procedural element).

  7. Is it too late to submit suggestions?

  8. Not sure if it's too late for Pam, but I'd certainly be interested, and she may still be, too!