Tuesday, December 30, 2014
Congress vs. the Popular Romance Project
I hadn't realized things had gone this far. A bill was introduced in Congress last summer to strip NEH funding from the Popular Romance Project, and also prohibit funds from the NEH for "any similar project relating to love and romance."
The bill did not pass, but it clearly sent shivers up the collective spine of the NEH, and as the Romance Novels for Feminists blog reported last week, "NEH funding for the PRP web site has been put on hold." (If you were wondering why the site went on hiatus a few months ago--well, now you know.)
I've been waiting for the right moment to propose an NEH summer seminar or institute for faculty about popular romance fiction, but politically speaking, that moment may have passed. A pity. As a scholarly adviser to the Project, I've always thought--and continue to think--that this is one of those rare projects that brings top notch humanities scholarship to bear on a topic of broad and democratic interest.
I hope the pendulum swings back someday; in the meantime, the documentary film that Laurie Kahn has made looks to be very interesting, and the loss of website funding won't stop the film from getting done and out to the public. More about the film, the funding fracas, and the upcoming popular romance symposium at the Library of Congress, at the new, separate "Love Between the Covers" website.