Thursday, April 27, 2017

CFP: Women’s Writing in the 21st Century - Sheffield, 8-9 September 2017

From the Postgraduate Contemporary Women's Writing Network (UK)

Fast Forward: Women’s Writing in the 21st Century

“The past is always tense, the future perfect.“ (Zadie Smith)

Zadie Smith’s debut novel White Teeth was published in the January of 2000 and marked the beginning of a new millennium of women’s writing. Considering that this and other texts released around the turn of the century are soon to be the same age as current undergraduates, it seems timely to move on from well-worn discussions of literature produced in the 1970s onwards and focus on women’s writing in the twenty first century.
The contemporary, as a liminal temporal space, marks the transition between past and future and as such is not only notoriously hard to frame but its fluid and ephemeral nature continues to present a challenge in literary studies and beyond. Contemporary literature, in many ways simultaneously ‘with the time’ and then quickly outdated, presents a curious and exciting paradox to think through questions of literary form, the literary market place, the role of authors as public intellectuals and contemporary readers. The need to focus on the present and contemporary state of women’s literature seems particularly poignant in a post-Brexit and Trump era in which laws and ideas surrounding the future state of gender, race, and class politics are ever more obscure and uncertain.
Join us on the 8th and 9th September 2017 as we seek to position the most recent work (post 2000) of established authors alongside the field’s newer voices in order to facilitate a conversation about the present state – and possible futures – of women’s writing.
Possible conference themes:
  • the resurgence of women’s confessional writing
  • the recent rise in popularity of erotic and romantic fiction
  • the emergence of genres such as autofiction and autotheory in women’s writing
  • writing at the intersection of creative and critical/writing across genres
  • writers as public intellectuals and agents of change
  • new directions in writing by canonised authors
Please send abstracts of 250 words and a short bionote to conference@pgcwwn.org until 30th June, 2017.


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Details from here.

Monday, April 17, 2017

CFP: Seventh International Conference on Popular Romance Studies (2018 conference; September 1 deadline)


http://iaspr.org/wp-content/themes/heavingbosom2/img/iaspr.jpg
The Seventh International Conference on Popular Romance Studies
 
Think Globally, Love Locally?
 
Sydney, Australia
27-29 June, 2018
 
Space, place, and romantic love are intimately entwined. Popular culture depicts particular locations and environments as “romantic”; romantic fantasies can be “escapist” or involve the “boy / girl / beloved next door”; and romantic relationships play out in a complex mix of physical and virtual settings. The romance industry may be globalized, but popular romance culture is always situated: produced and circulated in distinctive localities and spaces, online and offline. Love plays out in real-world contexts of migration and dislocation; love figures in representations of assimilation and cultural resistance; in different times and places, radically disparate political movements—revolutionary, reactionary, and everything in between—have all deployed the rhetoric and imagery of love.

For its seventh international conference on Popular Romance Studies, the International Association for the Study of Popular Romance calls for papers on romantic love and popular culture, now and in the past, from anywhere in the world. We are particularly interested, this year, on papers that address the relationship between love and locality in popular culture:  not just in fictional modes (novels, films, TV shows, comics, song lyrics, fan fiction, etc.), but also in didactic genres (advice columns, dating manuals, journalism), in advertising, and in both digital and material culture (wedding dresses, courtship rituals, etc.). 

The conference will be held at Macquarie University’s city campus, 123 Pit Street, Sydney. The venue is in the heart of Sydney’s CBD shopping and dining precinct, a 15-minute walk away from the Sydney Opera House, Harbour Bridge, and historic Rocks area.

Topics of interest might include:

  • Geographies of love and sexuality
  • Love’s Settings: e.g., the imagined Outback of Rural Romances; the Scottish Highlands; romantic cities; small-town and island romances; the communal space of “Romancelandia”
  • Romantic Chronotopes: times and places when love is imagined to be “truer” or “deeper” than the here-and-now (e.g., Regency or Victorian England; medieval Provence; Tang Dynasty China; the Joseon settings of Korean TV-drama, etc.)
  • Honeymoon travel (past and present) and romantic tourism, including fan pilgrimages for romantic texts and films, destination weddings, and the like
  • Locality and LGBTQIA romance culture
  • Courtship in public and semi-private spaces: e.g., paying visits, dating, office romance, romance and car culture
  • Love’s Architectures: Hotels, Fantasy Suites, Clubs and Restaurants, Domestic Spaces (kitchens, bedrooms, Red Rooms of Pain, etc.)
  • Local, National, and Transnational Book Industries
  • Local Romance Writer Groups, Reader Groups, or Media Fan Groups / Events
  • Romance and the (Local) Library or Bookshop
  • Local Love on Television (e.g., Farmer Wants a Wife) and online (Tinder, etc.)
  • “Escapist” reading and the places / practices of romance consumption
  • Place and Race in Popular Romance
  • The “Phone-World” and other Virtual Spaces for Love
  • Off the Map: Emerging and Under-Studied Settings and Romance Cultures
·         Material locations and imaginary spaces for love, and the combination of the two in Edward Soja's concept of "thirdspace"
·         Migration and love: migration for love, love hampered by distance, love in migrant and refugee communities
·         Non-geographic love (e.g., love experienced entirely online) and the intersections of technology with long-distance love, now and in the past
·         Lieux de memoire in the context of romantic love (as opposed to national identity)
·         Love and nationalism, love and regionalism, love and (local) political struggle
 
All theoretical and empirical approaches are welcome, including discussions of pedagogy.

Submit 250-300w proposals for individual papers, full panels, roundtables, interviews, or innovative presentations to conferences@iaspr.org by 1 September 2017.  All proposals will be peer reviewed.

Friday, April 14, 2017

New Issue of the Journal of Popular Romance Studies

Eric Selinger writes:

Now that we've switched to a rolling publication format in JPRS, new pieces will appear both individually and in thematic or "special issue" groups. Today, we begin rolling out Volume 6 of the journal with a new Special Issue on Critical Love Studies, edited by Amy Burge and Michael Gratzke. The table of contents is below, and you can find the whole issue here: http://jprstudies.org/issues/volume-6. 

Enjoy! And spread the word!

E

Romance Event in Evanston, Illinois, on 29 April 2017

There's a notice in Evanston Now that there's going to be a film and Q&A session:
Love Between the Covers: Film Screening and Discussion will be held Saturday, April 29, from 2 to 4:30 p.m., Community Meeting Room, Main Library.

Every year romance lit outsells mystery, sci-fi, and fantasy combined. Yet until Emmy-Award winning filmmaker Laurie Kahn turned her camera on the genre, no filmmaker had ever taken an honest look at the amazing global community that romance writers and readers have built.

So why is romance the best-selling genre in publsihing? Do romance novels exploit women or empower them? Following the film three local romance writers, Amy Jo Cousins, Kate Meader, and Julie Ann Walker, will be on hand for a panel discussion moderated by romance scholar, Professor Eric Selinger, of DePaul University. Come for the film, but stay for the Q&A and the chance to ask all your burning questions about contemporary romance novels.

Thursday, April 06, 2017

New Disability and Romance Project

Ria Cheyne is
excited to announce the launch of the Disability and Romance Project!  Please check out the project website at www.disrom.com or follow on Twitter @DisRomProject.

As some of you know, I've been researching the representation of disability in romance for a while now; this new project will gather data from romance readers, writers and other industry professionals with the aim of better understanding how readers respond to depictions of disability in romance, what motivates authors to write disabled characters, and if there are any barriers to publishing romance novels featuring disabled characters.  

I'm delighted to have received funding from the RWA Academic Research Grant for the second phase of the project, which focuses on writers.  The first phase focuses on readers, and our reader survey is now available at:


Wednesday, April 05, 2017

Free Romance Conference, Open to the Public: Williamstown USA, 22 April 2017


Reading for Pleasure: Romance Fiction in the International Marketplace 

Saturday, April 22 at 8:00am to 4:15pm

Brooks-Rogers Recital Hall, Bernhard Music Center 54 Chapin Hall Dr, Williamstown, MA 01267, USA

Free and open to the public.


8:00 - 10:00 am:  Panel 1:  Theories of Pleasure (Brooks Rogers Auditorium on the Williams campus)
Chair:  Leyla Rouhi, Williams College
  • Laura Frost, Stanford University:  “Stories of O:  The Language of Orgasm in Women’s Romance”
  • Julie Cassiday, Williams College:  “A World Without Safe-Words:  Fifty Shades of Russian Grey”
  • Eric Selinger, DePaul University:  “Xenophile’s Paradox:  Reading for Pleasure Across the Great Divides”

10:15 am - 12:15 pm:  Panel 2:  New Subjects and Audiences (Brooks Rogers Auditorium)
Chair:  Alison Case, Williams College
  • Sonali Dev, author:  “Genre Structure and Learning to Dance Within its Boundaries”
  • Hsu-Ming Teo, Macquarie University:  “Tigresses, Tang Dynasty, and the Ten Commandments:  The East Asian Romance Novels of Jade Lee, Jeannie Lin, and Camy Tang”
  • Jayashree Kamblé, LaGuardia Community College:  “When Wuxia Met Romance:  The Pleasures and Politics of Multiculturalism in Sherry Thomas’s My Beautiful Enemy
  • Len Barot (Radclyffe), author and publisher:  “Lesbian Romances and the International Market in the Digital Age”

2:15 - 4:15 pm:  Panel 3:  New Media Platforms and the Global Marketplace (Brooks Rogers Auditorium)
Chair:  Greg Mitchell, Williams College
  • Mary Bly (Eloisa James), Fordham University, author:  “Romancing the World:  How and Where American Romance Sells”
  •  Katy Regnery, author:  “From Stay-at-Home Mom to NYT Bestseller in 30 Months:  A First-Hand Perspective on the Digital Revolution in the Romance Publishing Industry”
  • Sarah Wendell, Smart Bitches, Trashy Books:  “The World is So Big; the World is So Small:  The Global Community of Romance”
  • Patience Bloom, Harlequin:  “Harlequin’s International Program:  A World of Romance Readers”
More details here.

Monday, April 03, 2017

RWA Academic Grant Awarded, What's New to the Wiki and a Couple of Other Links


The 2017 RWA Academic Research Grant has been awarded to:

Dr. Kate Brown, Huntington University
Dukes, Dowers, Devises, and Demesnes: The Paradoxical Place of English Law in the Historical Romance

RWA awarded funding to Dr. Kate Brown's project, which explores how English common law and constitutionalism give fundamental structure and substance to the historical romance genre.


Dr. Ria Cheyne, [Liverpool Hope] University
The Disability and Romance Project

RWA awarded funding to Dr. Ria Cheyne's project, which seeks to advance the scholarly conversation about disability and romance and will also engage with romance readers, writers and other industry professionals to encourage new conversations about romance, disability and representation.

I've only added a couple of items to the Romance Wiki bibliography recently, so I thought I'd add a few blog posts to today's post:

Anne N. Bornschein took a look at "a romance novel that deals with the history of women’s academic work—particularly in the sciences—and how it has often been erased, dismissed, or appropriated by male colleagues."

Olivia Waite observes that "writers make millions upon millions of tiny, instinctual decisions that add up to internally consistent structures" and suggests it's important to start "recognizing the partly hidden pattern[s]."

And new to the Wiki are:
Cheyne, Ria, 2017. 
"Disability Studies Reads the Romance: Sexuality, Prejudice, and the Happily-Ever-After in the Work of Mary Balogh." Culture - Theory – Disability: Encounters between Disability Studies and Cultural Studies. Ed. Anne Waldschmidt, Hanjo Berressem and Moritz Ingwersen. Bielefeld, Germany: Transcript. 201-216.
 
Matthews, Amy T., 2016. 
'Entangled: the exegetical process of a romance writer', Arts and Humanities as Higher Education December 2016.
Dr Amy T. Matthews also writes literary fiction as "Amy T Matthews" and romance fiction as "Tess LeSue." She is hoping to bring her three personae together:
The HEA is a non-negotiable element of romance and one I want to use in my literary romance novel (it is already a staple in my historical romances). The parameters I am giving myself for the literary romance is that it must be structured around at least one romantic relationship between a man and a woman (although there may be more than one), and that it must end optimistically, with a happy ending (although not necessarily the same kind of happy ending as a traditional romance). I do not want to sidestep the inevitability of suffering. I want my characters to experience love and romance in the context of real world pressures – infidelity, mental illness, bereavement  – and I want to face up to the inescapable finality of death, while still (somehow!) managing to reach that optimistic ending. This will be a point of difference between popular romance and my literary novel, and I hope it’s one I can navigate without slipping from ‘romance’ into ‘love story’.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Call for Papers: Happiness


This is a call for papers from Writing from Below:

Emergent research into happiness is still largely situated in fields such as sociology, psychology, and neuroscience. Traditionally the uncontested domain of the Humanities, the question of “How should we live?” is too rarely approached in contemporary literary and cultural studies. Indeed, even in a thriving field such as affect studies, research still largely focuses on negative emotions, ugly feelings (Ngai), shame (Probyn), paranoia (Sedgwick), failure (Halberstam), and the cruelty of optimism (Berlant). But perhaps the critical tide is turning. Scholars are beginning to theorise the end of our well-rehearsed “hermeneutics of suspicion,” and conjecturing what comes after (Felski). They are mapping the potential path for a “eudaimonic criticism” (Pawelski & Moore) and an “ethics of hope” (Braidotti), looking towards a more positive future (Muñoz). Critical and historical studies on empathy (Meghan; Keen), joy (Potkay) and happiness itself (Ahmed) are also emerging.
Inspired by the growing body of scholarship on optimistic representations or gender, sexuality, and queerness, Writing from Below enters the fray with this invitation to explore and interrogate positive, successful, fulfilling, life-affirming expressions of gender and sexuality in contemporary or historical literature, culture, and society.
Papers could engage with (but are not limited to):
  • Pleasure, joy, jouissance, delight, splendour, enchantment, empathy, and kindness
  • Love, passion, and amour fou
  • Middlebrow pleasure
  • Living the queer life, and queer(ing) happiness
  • Eudaimonia, mindfulness, and wellbeing
  • Eudaimonic reading, and the eudaimonic turn in cultural and literary studies
  • The hermeneutics of suspicion, paranoid and reparative reading, and their aftermath
  • Ethical criticism, the ethics of hope, and hopelessness
  • The body as site of happiness, joy, pleasure, etc.
  • Affect, the theories and/or histories of positive emotions
  • Celebration, and celebration as protest
  • Burlesque, clowning, circus, carnivals, and the carnivalesque
  • Kitsch, camp, and drag
  • Sex and play, sex lives, fun
  • Vitality, verve, vigour, and liveliness
  • Biological life, bios, zoe, survival, sur-vivre [living-on], affirmation
  • The utopian tendencies of gender studies and queer theory
  • The (queer) future, queer futurity, and happy endings
Gender studies and queer theory are located across and between disciplines, and so we welcome submissions from across (and outside of, against and up against) the full cross-/inter/-trans-disciplinary spectrum, and from inside and outside of conventional academia.
Do not be limited. Be brave. Play with form, style, and genre. Invent, demolish, reimagine.

Submissions

The deadline for submissions is 29 May 2017.
To submit, visit our website: www.writingfrombelow.org.au
Written submissions, whether critical or creative, should be between 3,000 and 6,000 words in length, and should adhere strictly to the 16th edition of the Chicago Manual of Style.
All submissions—critical, creative, and those falling in between; no matter the format or medium—will be subject to a process of double-blind peer review.
For editorial enquiries, or queries about unusual submissions (we adore the unusual, the unexpected and unfamiliar!), please contact our guest editor, Dr Juliane Roemhild: J.Roemhild@latrobe.edu.au

The call for papers can also be found here.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

New to the Wiki: J D Robb, Katherine V. Forrest and Feminism

A short list of what's new to the Romance Wiki Bibliography:

Ali, Kecia, 2017. 
Human in Death: Morality and Mortality in J. D. Robb's Novels. Waco, Texas: Baylor UP. [I've written a response to this book on my personal blog.]
Betz, Phyllis M. 2017. 
Katherine V. Forrest: A Critical Appreciation. Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Co. [See Chapter 2, "Diana and Lane: From Pulp to Passion" excerpt here. ]
 
Matthews, Amy T., 2016. 
'The Hopeful Romantic', Kill Your Darlings 27: 44-56. ["Is it possible to be both a romance writer and a feminist? And if so, how might the romance genre contribute to the advancement of women's rights?" (from here)]


Thursday, February 23, 2017

News and Events: Indian romance, CFP for Genre Fiction conf in Brisbane,

Bowling Green State University's Popular Culture Scholars Association hosted a talk today by Kristen Rudisill

You might be able to read that if you click on it but if not, here's a transcript of the abstract:
Post-Colonial Romance Reading and Writing in India

At the end of the 20th century, India was the "largest sales outlet in the world" for the Mills & Boon romance novels produced primarily in English. The post-colonial nation flirted with its own English-language romances in the mid-1990s, but Rupa's & Company's Indian romance line was considered "fake" and "unrealistic" by contemporary Indian women readers. Then in 2008, Mills & Boon opened an Indian office, which started soliciting manuscripts from Indian writers. In 2009, avid romance reader Sandhya Sridhar started Pageturn Publisher, with the label "Red," to publish English-language novels that she billed as "full blooded desi romance." This paper looks at the shifts in the Indian cultural imaginary that took place across that fifteen year period to think about why Red has been able to connect with India[n] readers while the Rupa novels flopped. This paper examines the idea of "desi romance" as a new sub-genre of romance novels, and explores the boundaries of the sub-genre as defined by Red. It also takes into consideration issues of representation, culture, and identity to argue that Red is filling a niche that exists in the Indian market in addition to those filled by Mills and Boon and regional-language romances.
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Genre Worlds: Popular Fiction in the 21st Century

CALL FOR PAPERS

Academic Conference in association with GenreCon
State Library of Queensland, Brisbane 10 November 2017
Abstract Deadline: 21 April 2017
Convenors: Dr Kim Wilkins, Dr Beth Driscoll, and Dr Lisa Fletcher
All artistic work… involves the joint activity of a number, often a large number, of people…. The work always shows signs of that cooperation” – Howard S. Becker, Art Worlds.
Popular fiction is one of the most dynamic cultural and commercial divisions of twenty-first century publishing. Internally, it is organised along the lines of genres, creating what we call ‘genre worlds.’  This conference will consider the ways that contemporary genre worlds function as sectors of the publishing industry, as social and cultural formations, and as bodies of texts. Who is publishing popular fiction? Who is reading it? How do genre communities form, and how do texts circulate within them? How are terms like popular fiction, genre fiction, commercial fiction and trade publishing used, and what do they suggest about the way that popular fiction is conceived of and valued, by the industry and academy alike?
We invite abstracts for presentations on aspects of Australian and international popular fiction genres, industries, markets and communities. Submissions are welcome from scholars across the humanities and social science disciplines, including those working in cultural studies, publishing studies, sociology, cultural economics, literary studies and creative writing.
Possible topics include:
  • Close and distant reading of works of contemporary popular fiction
  • Career trajectories and models of authorship in popular fiction, within and across genres
  • Social media and popular fiction
  • Distribution and routes to readers, including studies of booksellers, libraries, and the use of advanced reading copies
  • Popular fiction readers, reading practices, and fan cultures
  • Pleasure and popular fiction
  • The material formats of genre texts and paratexts, including studies of ebooks, print books, and audiobooks
  • Systems of value and gatekeeping in popular fiction, including blogging, reviewing, booktubing, bestseller lists, prizes, festivals, and events
  • Genre writing and reading groups, both online and offline
  • The spaces and places of popular fiction, including studies of book tourism
  • The economics of genre fiction: persistent and emergent business models, including self-publishing, author services, marketing strategies, and sales patterns
Plans for publications arising from the conference include a special issue of Australian Literary Studies. To be considered for inclusion, full papers of between 5,000 and 10,000 words will be due by 9 December 2017.
200-300 word abstracts should be sent to Kim Wilkins at the School of Communication & Arts, University of Queensland, at k.wilkins@uq.edu.au, by 21 April 2017.

[The call for papers came from here.]

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No mention's made here of romance, but in case it's of interest:

Call for Proposals: 21st Century Genre Fiction

The Bloomsbury 21st Century Genre Fiction series seeks new titles addressing innovative trends and development in contemporary genre writing, considering the function of genre in both reflecting and shaping sociopolitical and economic developments of the twenty-first century. The series provides exciting and accessible introductions to new genres in twenty-first-century fiction for fans and critics alike. Exploring the history and uses of each genre to date each title in the series analyses key examples of new genres since the year 2000.

More details here.

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And finally, new to the Romance Wiki bibliography is:
González-Cruz, Maria-Isabel, 2016. 
"Discourse Types and Functions in Popular Romance Fiction Novels ("Work in Progress")." On the move: Glancing Backwards To Build a Future in English Studies Ed. Aitor Ibarrola-Armendariz and Jon Ortiz de Urbina Arruabarrena. Bilbao: Universidad de Deusto. 265-271.

Saturday, February 04, 2017

New to the Wiki: Muslim Reworkings of Romance/Chick Lit and German Translations


Newns, Lucinda, 2017. 
"Renegotiating romantic genres: Textual resistance and Muslim chick lit." Journal of Commonwealth Literature. Online first. 1-17. [Abstract]
Newns examines Leila Aboulela's fictional The Translator and Shelina Zahra Janmohamed autobiographical Love in a Headscarf:
Through their manipulation of secular romantic forms, they present readers with more nuanced articulations of Muslim womanhood that fuse feminist and religious concerns. Aboulela’s novel The Translator (1999) and Janmohamed’s memoir Love in a Headscarf (2009) appropriate the domestic novel and chick lit genres, respectively, and recast them within an Islamic signification system.
Newns doesn't mention popular romance except in passing, but Aboulela's novel is compared in some detail to Jane Eyre, while Janmohamed's book is compared to chick lit.]

Sinner, Carsten, 2012. 
"Fictional orality in romance novels: Between linguistic reality and editorial requirements." The Translation of Fictive Dialogue. Ed. Jenny Brumme and Anna Espunya. Amsterdam: Rodopi. 119–136.
In constructing the characters' social context, interpersonal distance is overtly manifested in some languages. Carsten Sinner [...] illustrates the conscious efforts made by German translators of English-language romance novels to recreate the highly conventionalized use of the terms of address Sie (distant) vs du (close), and even to ensure verisimilitude in the switch from one to the other, a protocol regulated by various parameters (age, superiority, personality). (22)

Carsten Sinner [...] attests to the "sanitization" strategy (term coined in Kenny 1998) followed by German publishers of romance novels through their translation style-sheets. Any feature of speech that may have a negative impact on the reader's opinion of the 'good' character has to be attenuated or even deleted, no matter the consequences for the verisimilitude of the situation. The difficulty does not lie in finding the model of language that is homologous to the source text colloquial variety but rather in achieving plausibility without shocking the reader. (23-24)

Other things generally omitted in the translation because of the publisher's style prescriptions are religious allusions and anything seen as nationalistic, heroic in a military sense, etc, which sometimes appears in the American originals. (133)

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Studying 20th-century Cross-class Romance?

If there are any popular romance scholars looking at cross-class romances, particularly in the first half of the twentieth century, Stephen Sharot's new book, Love and Marriage Across Social Classes in American Cinema (Palgrave Macmillan), may be of interest for comparative purposes. In fact, his first two chapters may be of wider interest because they provide a summary of the social and literary context of ideas and fiction about romantic love:
An essential precondition for the cross-class romance was the emergence of romantic love as a basis for marriage and Chap. 1 traces the diffusion of this value across the class spectrum in the nineteenth century and early twentieth century. Chapter 2 traces motifs of the cross-class romance in literature, from Pamela (1740), considered by many to be the first modern novel, through to the popular American literature of the nineteenth century and early twentieth century, prior to its surge of popularity in American cinema from about 1915. (xv)

Moving on to the specifics of cross-class romance films, Sharot notes that they
were made prodigiously from the beginnings of the feature film around 1915 until the USA entered World War II at the end of 1941. (xi)
Like romance novels, they were primarily written by, and found a primary audience among, women:
The studios expected that cross-class romance films would appeal principally to women and one relevant fact with respect to the filmmakers it that, although almost all producers and directors were male, a relatively large number of script writers were female.(xiv)
This description of the distinction between the social classes also reminds me of the depictions of the working and upper classes in many romances I've come across:
up until about 1919, class in many American films was a matter of position in the mode of production, but in the 1920s and thereafter, Hollywood understood class almost exclusively in terms of levels of consumerism [...]; it was not just the quantity of the items consumed but their nature that had relevance. Some working-class heroines of cross-class romance had to overcome accusations of vulgarity while others demonstrated that they could acquire the appropriate manners and tastes of the upper-class with ease. Classes were distinguished not only by lifestyles but also by moralities. The upper-class relatives of the wealthy male in cross-class romances were often portrayed as snooty, shallow, egoistic, cold, insincere and hypocritical. The working-class families, particularly the men-folk, of poor heroines were sometimes at fault, but the heroine was frequently an exemplar of working-class morality [...]. Working-class heroines and heroes were straightforward, authentic and sincere, with a strong work ethic, personal integrity and good interpersonal relationships. (xiv-xv)

Are you interested in: a JPRS issue on Beverly Jenkins, a research workshop at BGSU, a pop culture conference?



Eric Selinger is currently teaching Beverly Jenkins’s Forbidden at DePaul University and he's noticed that Jenkins has:
been on a lot of romance syllabi over the last few years, especially here in the United States. It would be great to have a special issue / forum of JPRS about Jenkins, including some pieces about teaching Jenkins (who does a lot of teaching in her work, of course, as well); something about how she reads from outside the US would also be quite interesting, as would pieces about her legacy and influence on other romance authors.

If anyone wants to guest edit that special issue, please be in touch! And if you wouldn’t want to edit it, but could contribute – even something relatively small about what you’ve taught and what you did with it—get in touch with me about that as well. 
Jenkins is one of the authors featured in a small online exhibit about "Pioneering African American Romance Authors" created by Steve Ammidown, Manuscripts & Outreach Archivist at Browne Popular Culture Library. He also sends notification of an
upcoming PCA/ACA Summer Research Institute here at Bowling Green. More information can be found here: http://pcaaca.org/educatio/pcaaca-research-workshop/

I particularly want to highlight our romance collections, since they got short shrift in the announcement. They include:

-An extensive collection of series romances dating back to the 1960s
-Stand-alone gothic and contemporary romances from the 1960s and 1970s
-A collection of Woman’s Weekly Library (UK) periodicals from the 1950s-1970s
-Promotional postcards for romance novels, mostly 1990s-today
-And probably some more stuff I’m forgetting!

I would be happy to answer any questions about the collections and their potential for research. I’d really love to see these collections get use during the Institute, so please consider applying. The deadline for applying is March 24th, so time is of the essence!
The British Association for Contemporary Literary Studies has announced:
Theorising the Popular Conference 2017
Liverpool Hope University, June 21st-22nd 2017

The Popular Culture Research Group at Liverpool Hope University is delighted to announce its seventh annual international conference, ‘Theorising the Popular’. Building on the success of previous years, the 2017 conference aims to highlight the intellectual originality, depth and breadth of ‘popular’ disciplines, as well as their academic relationship with and within ‘traditional’ subjects. One of its chief goals will be to generate debate that challenges academic hierarchies and cuts across disciplinary barriers.

The conference invites submissions from a broad range of disciplines, and is particularly interested in new ways of researching ‘popular’ forms of communication and culture. In addition to papers from established and early career academics, we encourage proposals from postgraduate taught and research students.

Possible topics include, but are not limited to:

• Film and Television
• Media and Communication
• Politics and Populism
• Literature (Fiction and Non-Fiction)
• Music
• Drama and Performance
• Fan Cultures and Audience Research
• Sport
• Celebrity
• Social Media
• Gender: Feminism/Femininities/Masculinities/Queering/Sexualities/Representations of the Body
• Language/Linguistics

The conference will be held at Liverpool Hope’s main campus, Hope Park. Situated in a pleasant suburb of Liverpool, just four miles from the city centre, Hope Park offers superb facilities in beautiful surroundings.

Papers should be 20 minutes in length. Please send abstracts of 300 words to Dr Jacqui Miller and Dr Joshua Gulam (ttpconference@hope.ac.uk) by March 17th 2017. The abstract should include your name, email address, affiliation, as well as the title of your paper.

Successful abstracts will be notified by April 3rd 2017.
Conference fees: £100 for both days, including lunch and all refreshments (£80 for students).
Theorising the Popular 2017
ttpconference@hope.ac.uk


Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Can you help? Seeking romance readers, authors, and a list of 50 romances

There are two Australian romance projects looking for participants at the moment.

Over at Summer of Romance
a team of researchers from the University of Tasmania are working on a project tracking novels by Harlequin Mills & Boon. Specifically, we want to find out what happens to them after they’re published. We’ve got a list of fifty books by Australian authors that we’re tracking between December 1, 2016 and February 28, 2017. If you see one of these books, take a photo of it where you found it and then post it to one of our social media accounts, along with a quick description of where it was.
Meanwhile, Donna Maree Hanson continues her search for romance readers and (especially) romance authors who'd be willing to fill in a questionnaire for her as part of her Ph.D. research. Donna's a romance reader and author
surveying writers of popular romance fiction and readers of popular romance fiction. [...] The response is so good that we could go for statistically significant for reader response so yes I’m still looking for readers of romance fiction. Please spread the word. Do the survey if you are a reader of romance!

The irony is that I’m sadly lacking in romance fiction authors responding to the survey, particularly in comparison to the reader response. I know there are thousands of romance authors out there. I am having trouble reaching them. Romance Writers of Australia has nearly a 1000 members, Romance Writers of America has over 10,000 members. You think it would be easy. But it’s not. I’m not a member of the Romance Writers of America for example and it’s not easy for me to wave the flag and say lookie here.
Can you help? Links to her surveys can be found here.

Thursday, January 05, 2017

New to the Wiki: Virginity, the Hymen, Desire, Bodies, Blackness and Disability


Burge, Amy, 2016. 
"‘I Will Cut Myself and Smear Blood on the Sheet’: Testing
Virginity in Medieval and Modern Orientalist Romance." Virgin Envy: The Cultural Insignificance of the Hymen. Ed. Jonathan A. Allan, Cristina Santos, and Adriana Spahr. London: Zed. 17-44.
Amy Burge's " 'I Will Cut Myself and Smear Blood on the Sheet': Testing Virginity in Medieval and Modern Orientalist Romance," focuses on representations of the virginity test. Burge explores six sheikh popular romance novels, all featuring virgin heroines. She positions these texts alongside two popular English medieval romances, Bevis of Hampton (c. 1300) and Floris and Blancheflur (c. 1250). She analyzes the persistent reference in all of these texts to the virginity test used to prove women's virginity. Pointing out that these tests are easily manipulated, thereby highlighting their unreliability, Burge reminds us that the sole purpose of testing female virginity is to secure male ownership of women in a heteronormatively gendered society. (6)
Hirdman, Anja, 2016. 
"Speaking through the flesh: Affective encounters, gazes and desire in Harlequin romances," MedieKultur: Journal of media and communication research 32.61: 42-57. [PDF available for free]
Drawing from the cross-disciplinary field of affect theory, the article examines the writing of desire in Harlequin romances through the delineation of gendered encounters. Against the backdrop of earlier feminist critiques of romance fiction, it argues that Harlequin’s intense focus on corporeal sensations and gazes encompasses a looking relationship that differs significantly from the visual mediation of gender and desire. With its use of an extended literary transvestism, a double narrator perspective, and the appropriation of a female gaze, Harlequin offers readers an affective imaginary space in which the significance of the gendered body is re-made, re-versed, and the male body is stripped of its unique position.

McAlister, Jodi, 2016. 
"Between Pleasure and Pain: The Textual Politics of the Hymen." Virgin Envy: The Cultural Insignificance of the Hymen. Ed. Jonathan A. Allan, Cristina Santos, and Adriana Spahr. London: Zed. 45-64.
In [...] "Between Pleasure and Pain: The Textual Politics of the Hymen," Jodi McAlister explores the history of the representation of the hymen in Western literature romances. Her analysis ranges from the thirteenth century, with Le roman de la rose; to the seventeenth century, with the ballad A Remedy for Green Sickness (1682) and A Dialogue between a Married Woman and a Maid (1655); through to experts from "Sub-Umbra, or Sport among the She-Noodles" and "Lady Pokingham, or They All Do It" from Pearl (a magazine published in 1879-80); and up to examples taken from the twentieth century and twenty-first century, using Beyond Heaving Bosoms and recent autobiographical stories of virginity loss. By examining blood, pain, and (im)perforability - common motifs associated with the hymen - in all of these texts across such a vast array of periods, McAlister reveals the discourse over the female body across time. In doing so, she discovers that the perception of virginity loss (the rupture of the hymen) brings about a profound transformative change in women; it is the journey toward adulthood, sexual maturity, and pleasure. More so, from the earliest to the latest of these romances, McAlister argues that the role of women has greatly improved: the transformative change moves from being that imposed externally by the man to that becoming internal to the woman. Finally, and tellingly, McAlister's analysis, by moving from early literary texts to current autobiographical stories (a point of friction in her chapter between literary texts and real lives), shows that in the latter texts the hymen is less concrete: the broken hymen does not and cannot fulfill the expectation of the transformative changes long promised by our cultural imaginary. (6-7)
Schalk, Sami, 2016. 
"Happily Ever After for Whom? Blackness and Disability in Romance Narratives." Journal of Popular Culture 49.6: 1241–1260. Excerpt
In the United States, people with disabilities are often represented as nonsexual, having either no desire or capacity for sexual interactions. This stereotype is supported by the lack of mainstream representation and by the historical denial and punishment of the sexualities of people with disabilities through eugenics, forced sterilization, institutionalization, exclusion from sex education, and more [...]. In contrast, the sexuality of black people has been abundantly represented as a problem that needs to be controlled. Black feminists argue that sexuality and gender are always already racialized, and sexual-racial stereotypes, like the Jezebel, dominate contemporary cultural representations of black women. While the sexualities of black people have been more often represented than the sexualities of disabled people, these representations have typically been oppressive nonetheless.
Positive, perhaps even liberatory, scripts of black and disabled people's sexualities are largely nonexistent, especially in mainstream culture. As a result, writers of popular fiction have sought to depict black and disabled people's experiences in the popular romance genre. (1241)