Sunday, July 21, 2013

Sociologists on Romance Writers

Smart Bitch Sarah Wendell has collected her tweets of the "presentation from Drs. Joanna Gregson and Jen Lois at Romance Writers of America 2013 Annual Conference" and they're all available at Storify.

As reported on Professor Lois's Western Washington University webpage, she's
begun a new project (with co-researcher Professor Joanna Gregson, Pacific Lutheran University), interviewing romance novelists about the stigma of the genre and how the preponderance of women in the romance-writing industry affects the subculture as a whole.  In 2011, the project received an Academic Research Grant from the Romance Writers of America. 
The stigma felt by romance writers is mirrored by the stigma felt by Lois and Gregson themselves: "They experience stigma because of their research, because some think it's ridiculous" and "Jen was denied a grant on this project because it was of 'dubious academic merit.'"

Sarah reports that we can "Expect articles on the research soon" but "publication of research in book" form will take longer because "soc books take about 10 years."


  1. I am struck by how often we face institutional resistance with regards to our research. This is noted here, and I think also of A. Dana Ménard's piece in JPRS (3.2). So I wonder, how then do we overcome this? At this point, we have an academic association, a journal, regular conferences. What more do we need to do so as to reduce the stigma?

  2. Janice Radway's Reading the Romance seems to have been well received; I suspect that could be because it suggests that romance readers are needy, not very well-educated women searching for nurturance. I suspect that we're far more likely to face stigma if our research fails to reinforce stereotypes about romance novels, their readers and/or their authors, but even then our research might be seen as unnecessary on the grounds that Radway's already written all that needs to be written about romances and their readers.

    I think it may help if the research can be presented as part of a more respectable area of study. McAleer's book on Mills & Boon, for example, is part of publishing history and Hsu-Ming Teo's book about sheikh romances is a critique of orientalism. That would probably also make it easier to find a publisher for a book on the subject, because it would increase its potential market.