Thursday, April 02, 2015

Romance XII: Libraries, Classrooms, Communities

Romance XII: Libraries, Classrooms, Communities

The Romance Novel: A Course in History and Creative Entrepreneurship at Duke

(Laura Florand and Katharine Dubois, both of Duke University)

In Spring 2015, Professors Katharine Brophy Dubois and Laura Florand, both established romance authors as well as Duke University faculty members, created “The Romance Novel” course at Duke University. Offered as both a History course and an elective in the Innovations & Entrepreneurship Certificate, the course focuses on the romance novel’s development from the eighteenth century to the present, the romance fiction publishing industry, and student creative entrepreneurship. In conjunction with the course, Dubois and Florand launched the “UNSUITABLE” events series to engage students in a wider community discussion of romance fiction, creativity, and popular perception. In this presentation, Dubois and Florand will discuss the challenges encountered in developing a course of this nature, its role at Duke as well as in the broader community, course objectives, text selection, pedagogy, and preliminary feedback on the classroom experience and student and community engagement.

Creating a Popular Romance Collection in the Academic Library

(Sarah Sheehan, George Mason University)

Academic libraries have long had an uneven record of collecting so-called popular contemporary literature. Academic libraries that do collect it have often done so as part of so-called “leisure reading” collections. Popular genre collecting, especially for popular romance novels, is often viewed as the prevue of the public libraries.  However, most public libraries do not collect for the long term needs of researchers and students, but instead focus on the present reading interests of the populations that they serve.

There are a few academic libraries that do systematically collect popular romance materials, however, these collections are housed in their respective library’s Special Collections, which does limit student and researcher access.  We argue that there is value in systematically collecting popular romance fiction for circulating academic library collections. As no established collection development model presently exists specifically for this type of collection, therefore the authors created a strategy using other genre collections and their skills as established liaison librarians in crafting the collection.  We will cover resources to identify appropriate items for the collection, specific selection criteria, non-traditional sources of obtaining titles, and the creation of an appropriate collection development policy. They will also discuss future plans for a popular romance novel collection.

Imagine a library that collected literary scholarship written about Eugene O’Neill, but not The Ice Man Cometh. Such a situation is currently the case for popular romance at many academic libraries. Circulating popular romance collections can play a vital role in promoting teaching and scholarship.  In effect, it would mean treating popular romance novels like any other literary genre currently in circulating collections.

Fact or Fiction? Are New Adult Romance E-books Emerging in Public Libraries?

(Renee Bennett-Kapusniak and Jennifer Thiele, both of University of Wisconsin Milwaukee)

No abstract provided.

Women's favourite titles in a Portuguese prison: from library use to romance reading

(Paula Sequeiros, Centre for Social Studies, University of Coimbra, Portugal)

The library prison in Santa Cruz do Bispo, Portugal, constitutes an interesting social location: this library is visited by a large proportion of women from the popular classes. The average age for imprisoned women has been increasing in recent years and with it average literacy skills have been lowering within a population with low education levels. Time allocation being for sure quite different from what used to be in the outside world, with no domestic and parenting tasks consuming their time, reading is expected to have a higher allocation in the imprisonment context.

The aim of this research was to understand what are the reading practices, what are their meanings and what is the role of reading in an everyday life of confinement. The results from ethnography and interviews were analysed according to social variables such as class, gender, ethnicity, age, occupation, and education.

Having come to know that most request items were light-literature novels, self-help books, and biographies/misery books, this research took a second step also focusing on favourite genres and titles. A critical analysis of one tittle from each genre was then contrasted with readers' favourite passages in order to better understand what attracted these readers.

A comparison was also made among categories – using AmorĂ³s' concept of "novela rosa" and Calinescu's definition of kitsch - in order to understand whether there is some form of "lineage" linking them as to stylistic and narrative devices, and whether their popularity could be, at least partially, explained by the use of these devices.
Concepts of light-literature and kitsch art are then discussed according to theories on taste, taking into account social class, gender and historical perspectives. Feminist approaches to kitsch and light-literature, in particular, were taken into account.

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