Sunday, November 08, 2015

Romance Research in the Canary Islands and Australia

In the Canary Islands, Dr. María-Isabel González-Cruz (Associate Professor, Universidad de Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Spain) is leading a project on:
Discourse, Gender and Identity in a Corpus of Popular Romance Fiction Novels on the Canaries and Other Atlantic Islands [Discursos, género e identidad en un corpus de novela rosa inglesa ambientada en Canarias y otras islas atlánticas] (Reference FFI2014-53962-P)

The novels in this corpus are all set, wholly or partially, in the Atlantic islands (mostly the Canaries) and are written by English Harlequin/ Mills & Boon female authors. The project begins with a corpus of 20 novels set in the Canaries, while the corpus on Madeira and other islands has just begun to be built, including only 2 novels at the moment. The texts cover a time span of almost five decades, from 1958 to 2004, which allows for an analysis of the evolution of their discourse.

The protagonists are usually a native islander hero, or an Englishman with local ancestors, who falls in Jove with an English heroine who either visits or settles temporarily on one of the islands, which are typically described as a paradise with very different sociocultural traditions. Both the narrator and the characters are aware of the sociocultural and linguistic differences and often make reference to them. This provides an interesting framework and material to carry out a variety of analyses related to a number of challenging issues, including identity and otherness, paradise discourse, and intercultural and even linguistic contact, since the texts are written in English but interspersed with Spanish and Canarian (also Portuguese) terms and expressions. These words and phrases perform different communicative functions and reach a wide international readership who become familiar with them. This may contribute, to some extent, to their diffusion and eventual adoption by readers of English or other speech communities, as González-Cruz (2011b) has argued. [...]

In short, our purposes in this Research Projects are as follows:
  1. to carry out an interdisciplinary study of the texts we have compiled so far
  2. to keep searching for more books in order to enlarge both corpora, the main Canarian corpus and the one referring to other Atlantic islands,
  3. to make a comparative analysis of the novels set in this area.
I don't know which novels are included in the 20-book corpus. Can you think of any books you think should be included? I can pass on any suggestions.

Dr Lisa Fletcher recently announced on the RomanceScholar listserv that she's
part of a research team just awarded a 3-year (2016-2018) Australia Research Council (ARC) Discovery Project grant of A$316,000 to study 21st-century Australian popular fiction, including romance. This interdisciplinary project brings together researchers from the University of Queensland (Kim Wilkins, David Carter), the University of Melbourne (Beth Driscoll), and the University of Tasmania (me).

Our project summary: This project intends to conduct a systematic examination of 21st-century Australian popular fiction, the most significant growth area in Australian trade publishing since the turn of the century. Its three areas of investigation are the publishing of Australian popular fiction; the interrelationships between Australian popular fiction and Australian genre communities; and the textual distinctiveness of Australian popular novels in relation to genre. Research is designed to centre on 30 novels across three genres, building a comprehensive picture of the practices and processes of Australian popular fiction through detailed examination of trade data, close reading of texts, and interviews with industry figures.

The maps of Australia and the Canary Islands came from Wikimedia Commons and are either in the public domain or made available under a Creative Commons licence.


  1. Mary Stewart's The Wind Off the Small Isles is set in the Canary Islands. That's the only title that came to my mind when I saw this post.
    I have looked for other titles in the FictionDB, but none of them looked important or classical o good. There was only a book that could be interesting, a 1974 Philippa Carr novel, The Lion Triumphant in which one of the characters was the governor of the Canary Islands. I haven't read any of them.

  2. Thanks, Bona! I've forwarded your comment to Isabel.