Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Call for Papers: PCA/ACA 2019

From https://pcaaca.org/area/romance


Conference of the Popular Culture Association (PCA/ACA)
17-20 April 2019 – Washington, DC

In response to the 2019 conference’s location in Washington, DC, the US capital, this year’s romance area will foreground the topic of popular romance and politics. Romance has arguably always been political, but recent years have seen political engagement in romantic spaces become more explicit.
We encourage you to define “politics” broadly, not simply as party politics in a particular national or regional arena, but also as the ways that power dynamics among social groups are reproduced or challenged, naturalized or destabilized, along such faultlines as gender, sexuality, race, nationality, religion, and class, among others.  In the world of romance, such politics often has to do with inclusion and representation.  Consider the pins Alisha Rai distributed at a recent author event, which proclaimed, “HEA belongs to everyone.” 
If we think about the romance “genre world” as a “social and industrial complex in which people work together to create and circulate specific types of texts” that functions at the industrial, social, and textual level (Fletcher, Driscoll and Wilkins 2018), we can see everyday politics in action at every level:  Which authors and works get published?  Who gets taught in college classrooms?  Who gets awards?
 Paper topics on this special theme might include the following:
  • The politics of the popular romance novel, romantic comedy, or any medium involving romance
  • The multicultural romance as antiracist pedagogy
  • M/M romance and the straight female readership/viewership/etc
  • Racial segregation in the romance industry
  • Politicians, activists, and elections in popular romance
  • The academic politics of studying popular romance
  • Party politics and military romance
  • Romance as resistance and romance writers/creators as activists
  • Politics within the RWA or other writers’, creators’, or makers’ organisations
  • Pushing historical romance beyond the straight, white, and narrow
  • Making consent hot
  • The dialogues between romance and specific social movements, such as #metoo
  • Mapping politics among romance readers, viewers, consumers, etc
  • The politics of publication and the current industrial status quo
  • Romantic love in a time of political upheaval
If you are sick of politics, or simply want to pursue your own intellectual passion, you are very welcome to do so. The Romance area invites any theoretical or (inter)disciplinary approach to any topic related to romance. We would like to emphasise that you do not need to write about romance novels to participate in this area (although that is obviously welcome!): the Romance area is open to engagements with all forms of media and culture that are concerned with romance, including, but not limited to, the following: art; literature; philosophy; radio; film; television; comics and graphic novels; videos, webzines and other online storytelling.
We are deeply interested in popular romance both within and outside of mainstream popular culture, now or in the past, anywhere in the world. Scholars, romance writers, romance readers/viewers, and any combination of the three are welcome: you do not need to be an academic to be part of the Romance area.
As we do every year, the Romance area will meet in a special Open Forum to discuss upcoming conferences, work in progress, and the future of the field of Popular Romance Studies. All are welcome to attend. In addition, if you wish to organise a roundtable, special session, or a film screening, please contact the Area Chairs, Jodi McAlister and Heather Schell.

Submit 250-word abstracts to https://pcaaca.org/node/add/presentation by October 1, 2018

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Romance Paper Wins the Roberta Gellis Memorial Award

Bowling Green State University Libraries have announced
that Kathleen Kollman, a Ph.D. student in American Culture Studies, has been named as the inaugural recipient of The Roberta Gellis Memorial Paper Award. Kollman’s paper, titled “Contemporary Paranormal Romance: Theories and Development of the Genre’s Feminism (Or Lack Thereof)” was written for a seminar on romance novels taught in the Spring 2018 semester by Dr. Kristin Rudisill in the Department of Popular Culture, and was also presented at the Researching the Romance conference sponsored by the Library in April 2018.
An abstract of the paper and a link to download it as a pdf are available here.

Monday, July 09, 2018

Romance Conference in Palma de Majorca

Romantic E - Scapes: Popular Romance in the Digital Age
(University of the Balearic Islands, Palma de Mallorca)
9 - 11 July 2018


The conference programme can be found here. Since (a) the programme's available, (b) there are a lot of papers and (c) I don't have any additional details about them, I'll just list a selection of the ones which seem as though they could be about romance as defined by the RWA (though they might not be).

Prof. Deborah Philips (University of Brighton): “In Defence of Reading ‘Trash’”

Ingrid Pfandl-Buchegger (University of Graz): “Romantic E-scapes: The impact of digital communication on the writing of popular romances”

Elina Valovirta (University of Turku): “The stuff of which fairytales are made: The formula, readers and writers of popular e-romance”

Paloma Fresno-Calleja (University of the Balearic Islands): “100% Pure Romance? Rosalind James’s ‘Escape to New Zealand’ Series”

Astrid Schwegler Castañer (University of the Balearic Islands): “Devouring Textual Love: The Culinary Metaphor in Contemporary Historical Romance”

Marta María Gutiérrez Rodríguez (University of Valladolid): “Love and Witchcraft: Contemporary Historical Romances about the Salem Witch Trials”

David Río Raigadas (University of the Basque Country): “Western Romance Novels: Escapism and the Cowboy Myth”

Silvia Martínez Falquina (University of Zaragoza): “Her Land, Her Love: Navajo Captivity and the Romance Novel”

Pilar Villar-Argáiz (University of Granada): “History, Exoticism and Romance in Popular Fiction set in Ireland”

María-Isabel González Cruz (University of Las Palmas): “Exploring the Exotic Other and Paradise Discourse in a Sample of English Romances set in the Canaries”

Aurora García-Fernández (University of Oviedo): “Between Exotic Postcards and Green Activism: Environmental Preoccupations in Contemporary Australian Romance”

Lynda Gichanda Spencer (Rhodes University, South Africa): “ ‘A New Kind of Romance’: Romance Imprints and the Digital Age in Nigeria”

Manasi Gopalakrishnan (University of Cologne): “The quiet native: colonized women in historical romances”

Alejandra Moreno Álvarez (University of Oviedo): “De-exotifying Romance Novels in Postcolonial India”

Carolina Fernández Rodríguez (University of Oviedo): “Nora Roberts’ Inn Boonsboro Trilogy: Fuelling the Myth of Romantic Love, Stoking the Fire of Consumerism”

Inmaculada Pérez Casal (University of Santiago de Compostela): “A Study in Contradictions: Feminism in Lisa Kleypas’ Ravenels Series”

Irene Pérez Fernández (University of Oviedo): “Atoning the Colonial Past in Contemporary Caribbean Romance: Female Characters Challenging the Norms”

Elin Abrahamsson (Stockholm University): “Mas(s)turbatory Readings: A Queer Theoretical Analysis of Popular Romance”

Prof. Hsu-Ming Teo (Macquarie University): “Falling in love with the past: History and the romance novel”

Tuesday, July 03, 2018

HQÑ - a Harlequin Imprint for Spanish-speaking Authors


At the recent IASPR conference Jennifer Hallock was discussing how "within English-language romance sold in the United States and written at least fifty years after the events described"
mainstream bestsellers are disproportionately: (1) set in Great Britain; (2) overpopulated with nobles; and (3) selective in their historical accuracy.
So I was very interested to see that Harlequin now has a special imprint which publishes romances written in Spanish (i.e. not just translations from English): HQÑ - HarperCollins Ibérica

It publishes a range of sub-genres, and one of them is historicals. I haven't looked at all the historicals they've published so far, and although there are quite a lot which are set in Great Britain and/or contain nobles, there definitely seem to be a fair number set in Spain, in a variety of time-periods, from Roman Hispania in 154 BC onwards. I'm pretty certain there are a lot more set in the Iberian peninsula than one would find in the equivalent set of historicals written in English.

Does anyone know more about this imprint? I couldn't find a lot of information about it and don't know when it launched or whether there are specific guidelines for its authors.

Monday, July 02, 2018

PopCAANZ 2018: Byron, Disenchantment, FBI, Feminism, Gender, Italy, "Magical Negroes", Names, South-East Asia, Telenovelas, Twitter, YA

Details are available for the PopCAANZ conference which is currently taking place at Auckland University of Technology. This year there are lots of papers on romance and I'll include excerpts from their abstracts. The conference continues tomorrow, and I'll add links to Twitter threads as they appear.

Donna Maree Hanson - Popular romance fiction: flirting with feminism
popular romance fiction regularly depicts feminist social issues. In this sense, the concept of Pierre Bourdieu’s ‘habitus’ applies — ‘this partly unconscious “taking in” of rules, values and dispositions...’ (Webb, Schirato, & Dahanher, 2002, p. 44). Contemporary popular romance novels are set in the everyday context and as such cannot but help portray the world in which the authors and their characters exist, including social issues present in the mind of the author, whether consciously or unconsciously. Throughout the 1970s and 1980s and since, the woman’s movement has been politically active and concepts of feminism have entered into everyday discourse. [...] research indicates that writers as well as readers of popular romance fiction have no issue reconciling their concept of feminism with writing and reading in the genre.
Lucy Sheerman - “Exempt from all affection and from all contempt”: necessary evil and the figure of the Byronic hero in romance novels
Two hundred years since his first appearance in print, the Byronic anti-hero - ‘that man of loneliness and mystery, / Scarce seen to smile, and seldom heard to sigh’ - is a figure who continues to define representations of the hero in romance novels.

The influence of this angry and defiant fallen angel on the writing of the Brontës has been well documented. In my paper I will consider four Governess novels, published by Mills & Boon in 2016 as a homage to Charlotte Brontë’s iconic romance novel Jane Eyre, and the Byronic traces of the heroes who feature in them.

The romance novel’s continued preoccupation with the Byronic anti-hero is central to the genre’s staged encounters with otherness and its exploration of emotional affect. The literary device of the anti-hero shaped the development of romance tropes such as plot, conflict and point of view, and also (as I will argue) gave rise to the Byronic anti-heroine.
Kathrina Haji Mohd Daud - Cross-cultural romance, feminism and femininity in Southeast Asian fiction
In this paper, I explore how the negotiation of cross-cultural romance also elicits a particular Southeast Asian feminism in three texts: Zen Cho’s The Perilous Life of Jade Yeo (2012, Malaysian), Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan’s Sarong Party Girls (2016, Singaporean) and Ayisha Malik’s Jewel (2017, Bruneian). [...] I argue in this paper that these novels construct a feminist femininity that allows the heroines to remain connected to and sanctioned by their individually patriarchal heritages, while also allowing them to critique and expand existing expectations of feminine identity through the negotiation of cross-cultural relationships.
Jodi McAlister's tweeted a thread on Hanson, Sheerman and Daud's papers.

Ellen Carter - What’s in a romance hero/ine’s name? a corpus study of gay and straight romance character names
The first names parents give to their female versus male children have different phonological (sound) characteristics. My work extends this from the real to the fictional world, studying names given by authors to their romance heroes – gay and straight – as well as to straight heroines. My corpus contains 2,536 contemporary romance novels: 1,668 with a male/female pairing and 868 with a male/male couple, resulting in 3,404 heroes (1,668 straight; 1,736 gay) and 1,668 (straight) heroines. My results demonstrate that the phonological characteristics of names given to gay heroes are statistically significantly less masculine/more feminine than the names of straight heroes. Given that gay romance is a fast-growing romance sub-genre predominantly written and read by straight women, I explore possible cultural implications of this finding and how it may feed stereotypes and shape perceptions within (straight and queer) societies.

Eden French - Loving invisible bodies: transgender representation in popular romance
The few novels that do feature trans heroines and heroes — niche even in small LGBTQ presses — are hailed as daring simply for permitting trans protagonists to be plausible subjects of love and desire. [...] romance’s historically heteronormative politics of gender has constrained writers and even scholars from treating transgender themes; mainstream discussion around trans bodies still manifests routinely in fetishistic and dehumanising ways. Moreover questions of embodiment (for example, the politics of gender-affirming surgery) remain contested even in the trans community. Speaking as a scholar and writer, I will discuss existing examples of trans embodiment in romance, and outline possible reconciliations for the challenge of bringing trans love into the mainstream.

Francesca Pierini - “He looks like he’s stepped out of a painting”: The idealization and appropriation of Italian timelessness through the experience of romantic love
Marina Fiorato’s The Glassblower of Murano (2008) tells the story of Eleonora, a young woman who travels to Venice in search of her genealogical past and existential roots. Coming from London, Eleonora incarnates a “modern” outlook on what she assumes to be the timeless life and culture of Venice. At one point in the novel, admiring the old houses on the Canal Grande, Eleonora is “on fire with enthusiasm for this culture where the houses and the people kept their genetic essence so pure for millennia that they look the same now as in the Renaissance” (2008, 15). [...] Within narratives centred on this notion, “falling in love in Italy” occasions the appropriation of a privileged relation with history and the past, often contrasted with the displacement and rootlessness that seem to characterize the modern places, people and lifestyles of England and North America. Through a discussion of two Anglo-American historical popular novels set in Italy, this paper proposes an exploration of the notion of romantic love as a force reconnecting displaced and fragmented souls with a supposedly timeless and unbroken society; a society perceived as holding a privileged relation with ancient traditions and the past.
Pierini has a paper freely available online which is quite similar, though lacking the focus on romantic love.

Jodi McAlister's tweeted a thread about Carter, French and Pierini's papers.

Maria Ramos-Garcia - This is not a romance novel but a telenovela”: metafiction and bilingualism in Jane the Virgin
Jane the Virgin, based on a Venezuelan telenovela, is at the same time a parody and an homage to the popular Latin American television genre. Among the many unusual features that contribute to the originality and success of this TV series are an omniscient narrator, a metafictional discourse, a bilingual and bicultural setting and an unapologetic, unabashed, and explicit use and abuse of the conventions of the soap-opera, with a touch of Latin American magical realism. [...] This paper will provide an overview of the series, concentrating both on the Latino socio-cultural aspects that rarely make it into mainstream US television, and on the metafictional discussions of the telenovela and the romance novel — both as genres and as philosophies of love — that permeate the narrative.
Angela Hart - Combating the romance genre stigma: reading romance in the digital age
Avid readers of the romance genre can find their voices in the online sphere using social media platforms such as Twitter, utilizing the hashtags #amreadingromance and #romancelandia. Romance readers utilize the technological affordances of the platform to form groups, post about novels, and find relevant information on their specific genre. By using anonymous user login information, unidentifiable profile pictures, and unique hashtags, romance readers are turning to Twitter.
Jodi McAlister tweeted a thread about Ramos-Garcia and Hart's papers before stopping so she could present her own.

Jodi McAlister - Not quite YA, not yet adult: the short but complex history of “New Adult” fiction
This paper will trace the history of the new adult genre category, using the notion of the “genre world,” as theorised by Lisa Fletcher, Beth Driscoll, and Kim Wilkins (2018). [...] this paper will explore the generic roots of new adult fiction in young adult fiction, popular romance fiction, and fan fiction, and how these parent genres have given shape to popular forms and structures of the new adult category. It will provide a much-needed scholarly framework for understanding this emergent genre category, its gradual formation, and its complex place at the borders of several different genre worlds.
Eric Selinger - Disenchantment and its discontents: Weber, Illouz, and popular romance fiction
Modernity and romantic love make uncomfortable bedfellows. As Max Weber explains, modernity is marked by “disenchantment,” not just of the natural world, but also of the inner life and of interpersonal relations. Building on Weber, Eva Illouz argues that we now live in an “ironic structure of romantic feeling, which marks the move from an ‘enchanted’ to a disenchanted cultural definition of love” (Why Love Hurts). This talk will look at how several contemporary authors negotiate and resist “disenchantment.” Of particular interest will be Ayisha Malik’s Sofia Khan is Not Obliged and The Other Side of Happiness, a pair of “hijabi chick-lit” novels that take both sides in this great debate, Courtney Milan’s Hold Me, which casts a cool, modern eye on romantic love without yielding to the irony that Illouz describes, and/or Alexis Hall’s Glitterland, which deploys religious discourse to redeem both love and popular media culture.
Nattie Golubov - The surveillant gaze in FBI romance
This paper is my first effort at thinking through several issues recurrent in the subgenre of the romance police procedural: the configuration of the spaces of home, homeland and nation as domestic territories, besieged not by a foreign but a home grown threat that violates the integrity of the boundaries between private and public, interior and exterior; the role of individual trauma as a mark of the vulnerability of the self and the foundation of an affective investment in the protection of national territory; the "Americanness" of the values and practices that govern social dynamics in the workplace, the self-chosen family and the couple. National character is defined in opposition to the rendering of the criminalised enemy and, together with collective, institutional agency and cooperation, is also the best safeguard against social disorder. Eventually I intend to show that this romance subgenre mediates and manages social fears and anxieties by highlighting the strengths of a systemic framework and ignoring the negative aspects of surveillance: anxiety and fear lie at the heart of romantic relationships and the novels offer a means of managing them with the emotional investment in family and trust in law enforcement.
Jodi McAlister's tweeted a thread about Selinger and Golubov's papers.

Kecia Ali - Writing while white: black martyrs as “Magical Negroes” in Nora Roberts’ novels
Roberts’ heroes and heroines are nearly always white; occasional Black characters are typically what Ikard (2017:94) describes as “magical negroes ... whose raison d’être in white redemption narratives is to support/heal/enlighten/inspire the white character(s) in crisis.” This paper explores four Roberts’ novels in which the violent murder of a Black character serves as the catalyst for vital emotional developments between a white couple or among a team of white characters [...] the single-title adventure romance Hot Ice (1987), the category romance Convincing Alex (1994), the stand-alone mystical romance Three Fates (2002), and Morrigan’s Cross (2006), the first installment of a paranormal romance trilogy.

Friday, June 29, 2018

All about Conferences, including IASPR18 and Heyer conference summaries

The IASPR 2018 conference didn't put its programme online but there's been a lot of very thorough tweeting by a number of attendees, using . Since Kat (@BookThingo) has really comprehensive threads, I've used the threadreaderapp to bundle her tweets together and I'm linking to them below.

Session 1 - Romancing Australia, with papers by Amy T. Matthews and Amy Mead (Flinders University), Kate Cuthbert and Jodi McAlister (Deakin University)
SEE THREAD

There's more about changes affecting cover art, as discussed by Kate Cuthbert, here, from Claire Parnell via the @PopFicDoctors: Coverart and here's a podcast interview with Jodi McAlister in which she discusses her paper: Podcast. In addition, Renée Dahlia has written a blog post about the session.

Session 2 - Gender and Sexuality, with papers by Ellen Carter (University of Strasbourg), Christina Vogels (AUT New Zealand) and Andrea Anne Trinidad (Ateneo de Manila University, Philippines)
SEE THREAD

Renée Dahlia's written a blog post about this session.

Here's a podcast from New Zealand Radio with Christina Vogels about her PhD thesis, titled It's a masculinity sort of thing: Young men talk about the rules of (hetero)romantic relationships.

Session 3 - Places and Spaces of Love, with papers by Kecia Ali (Boston University), Jacqueline Jones (LaGuardia CC, City University of New York) and Vassiliki Veros (University of Technology, Sydney)
SEE THREAD

Renée Dahlia's blog post about this session and the following one.

A similar presentation by Vassiliki Veros on "Exploring library metadata and how it can marginalise romance fiction" is up on YouTube.



Session 4 - Keynote Panel on “Romancing Popular Fiction Studies: A Theory of Genre Worlds” by Beth Driscoll (University of Melbourne), Lisa Fletcher (University of Tasmania) and Kim Wilkins (University of Queensland)
SEE THREAD and, from Jodi McAlister, with more graphics: See thread

There's also a podcast recorded with the presenters in advance of this panel: Podcast

Session 5 - History and Romance, with papers by Stephanie Russo (Macquarie University), Jennifer Wallace and Francesca Pierini (Academia Sinica, Taiwan).
Kat had to miss most of this session, so the thread is by Jodi McAlister:  SEE THREAD

Renée Dahlia has written a blog post about the session.

Philippa B's summary of Stephanie Russo's paper can be found here.
Phillipa B's summary of Pierini's presentation about "Italian timelessness" can be found here.

Jennifer Wallace writes romance as Jennifer Hallock and she's put her paper up on her website in two parts. Part one looks at how the bestsellers in historical romance are disproportionately: (1) set in Great Britain; (2) overpopulated with nobles; and (3) selective in their historical accuracy. Part two looks at how the aggregate impact of these chronotopes can be harmful to our understanding of history, to the romance market as a whole, and particularly to authors of diverse books. For links to more graphics and a way to help Jennifer crowdsource historical romances which differ from the chronotope she identified, go here and scroll to the end of the post.

Phillipa B's summary of Wallace's presentation can be found here.

Session 6 - Power and Patriarchy, with papers by Heather Schell (George Washington University), Nattie Golubov (Centro de Investigaciones sobre América del Norte, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México), Therese Dryden (University of Newcastle) and Jayashree Kamblé (LaGuardia CC, City University of New York)
SEE THREAD
See Renée Dahlia's blog post about the session.

Session 7 - 19th Century Legacies, with papers by Sarah Ficke (Marymount University), Steven Gil and Lucy Sheerman
SEE THREAD
See Renée Dahlia's blog post about the session.

Session 8 - Muslim and Middle Eastern Romance, with papers by Kathrina Daud (University of Brunei), Claire Parnell (University of Melbourne), Javaria Farooqui (University of Tasmania) and Amy Burge (University of Birmingham)
SEE THREAD
See Renée Dahlia's blog post about the session.

Session 9 - Romancing Chinese Worlds, with papers by Fang-Mei Lin (National Taiwan Normal University), Huike Wen (Willamette University), Jin Feng (Grinnell College) and Erin S. Young (SUNY Empire State College)
SEE THREAD (by Jodi McAlister)
See Renée Dahlia's blog post about the session.

Session 10 - South/South-East Asian Romance Communities with a paper by Meghna Bohidar (University of Delhi)
For those who can't read the text in that photo, it contains a definition of an important term used in Bohidar's paper: "Habitus is a set of microbehaviors consisting of a matrix of perceptions, appreciations, and actions that are unconsciously ingrained based on one's class position"

SEE THREAD and then the session moved on to Kat Mayo's interview of/conversation with Mina V. Esguerra


Here's Jennifer Hallock's thread on the Mina Esguerra conversation and a post elsewhere about/with #romanceclass authors.

Renée Dahlia has written a post about the whole session.

Session 11 - Subversions of Race, Culture and History with papers by Eric Murphy Selinger (DePaul University), Mallory Jagodzinski (Indiana University South Bend) and Johanna Hoorenman (Utrecht University)
SEE THREAD and, from Jodi McAlister, A SUPPLEMENTARY THREAD

Here's Renée Dahlia's post about this session.

Session 12 - Love in Other Worlds with papers by Donna Hanson (University of Canberra), María T. Ramos-García (South Dakota State University), Athena Bellas (University of Melbourne) and Kristin Noone (Irvine Valley College)
SEE THREAD and coverage of the FINAL PAPERS in this thread by Jodi McAlister.

Here's Renée Dahlia's post about this session.

I've now come across a couple of reports on the recent Georgette Heyer conference. Sophie Weston mentions that
A terrific paper from Vanda Wilcox made the point that, however precise Heyer’s grasp of strategic issues at Waterloo might have been, her officers “embody World War I values and leadership style”. At the same time Heyer’s other ranks (gorgeous Gideon Ware’s straight-talking soldier servant, for instance) are basically WWI Tommies in red coats, rather than Wellington’s rapists and pillagers. Convinced me completely.
Her full report can be found here. The evening discussion session is described here by Nicola Cornick.

On 29 June, at the Gendered Emotions in History conference held at the University of Sheffield there was a paper on romance, presented by:
Agnes Arnold-Forster (QMUL) - Gender, Emotions, and Professional Identity in Twentieth Century Medical Mills and Boon Novels
The EUPOP2018 conference will be held from July 24th – 26th, 2018. One of the keynote speeches is by
Professor Petr A. Bilek (Charles University, Prague)
Distant Encounters of the Third Kind: Why Is Popular Culture Not Popular within Central European University Curricula?

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Permanent Post for Dr Amy Burge

I'm really happy to be able to able to post the news that Dr Amy Burge, Book Review Editor of the Journal of Popular Romance Studies, has been appointed Lecturer in Popular Fiction in the University of Birmingham's School of English, Drama and American & Canadian Studies! Since the appointment starts in August, she doesn't yet have her details up on the University's website.

I wouldn't go quite so far as to say it's one small step for Amy, one giant leap for popular romance studies, but it's certainly a very encouraging step for the field to have someone appointed to such a post specifically for their expertise in romance, and particularly in the UK, where there are fewer university-based romance scholars than in the US or Australia.

Friday, June 22, 2018

New to the Wiki: Items on Mary Stewart, Nora Roberts, adoption, economics, monsters and more


Recently added to the Romance Wiki bibliography are:
Blouin, Michael J., 2018. 
Mass-Market Fiction and the Crisis of American Liberalism, 1972–2017. Cham, Switzerland: Palgrave Macmillan.[13] [See Chapter 3 on 'Danielle Steel and the New Home Economics' because Blouin refers to romance scholarship and describes Steel as "the undisputed master of the mass-market romance" (75). This is, however, disputed, both by many romance readers (thanks to everyone who responded to my tweets about this!) and by Steel herself, who has "insisted that her books aren't romantic fiction. 'They're not really about romance ... I really write more about the human condition,' she said. '[Romance] is an element in life but I think of romance novels as more of a category and I write about the situations we all deal with – loss and war and illness and jobs and careers, good things, bad things, crimes, whatever'." (The Guardian)
Bradford, Clare, 2013. 
"Monsters: Monstrous Identities in Young Adult Romance", (Re)Imagining the World: Children’s Literature’s Response to Changing Times, ed Yan Wu, Kerry Mallan and Roderick McGillis. Heidelberg: Springer. 115-125. Excerpt and unpaginated version
 
Chelton, Mary K., 2018. 
“Searching for Birth Parents or Adopted Children: Finding without Seeking in Romance Novels”, Reference & User Services Quarterly 57.4: 266-273. Abstract and link to pdf.

Golubov, Nattie, 2017. 
"Reading the Romance Writer as an Author-Entrepreneur," Interférences littéraires/Literaire interferenties 21 (December), "Gendered Authorial Corpographies", Ed. Aina Pérez Fontdevila & Meri Torras Francès, 131-160.
 
Keen, Suzanne, 2018. 
"Probable Impossibilities: Historical Romance Readers Talk Back." Style: A Quarterly Journal of Aesthetics, Poetics, Stylistics, and Literary Criticism, vol. 52, no. 1-2, 2018, pp. 127-132. Excerpt [This is about readers of Diana Gabaldon's Outlander series, which is not necessarily considered to be composed of "romance novels".]
Keegan, Faye Jessica, 2016. 
"Soft metafiction(s) : Mary Stewart and the self-reflective middlebrow." Ph.D. thesis, University of Newcastle. Details and pdf
 
Keegan, Faye, 2017. 
"‘Snob Value’: Gender and Literary Value in Mary Stewart." Women: A Cultural Review 28.3: 240-261.
 
Killeen, Jarlath, 2018. 
'Nora Roberts: the Power of Love', in Twenty-First Century Popular Fiction, ed. Bernice M. Murphy and Stephen Matterson (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press), pp.53-65.

Monday, June 18, 2018

Georgette Heyer Conference Tomorrow

The Nonesuch? Georgette Heyer and Her Historical Fiction Contemporaries

The Nonesuch? Georgette Heyer and Her Historical Fiction Contemporaries Tuesday 19 June 2018, 9.15am - 5.30pm 


The programme can be found here but in case that doesn't work and/or to preserve the details for posterity, here's a list of the papers and their authors:

Kim Sherwood (UWE Bristol) - "Pride and Prejudice: Metafiction and the Value of Historical Romance in Georgette Heyer"

Lisa Hopkins (Sheffield Hallam University) - "Shakespearean Echoes in Heyer’s Regency Novels"

Laura George (Eastern Michigan University) - "‘A little out of the way’: the dandy heroine in Regency Buck"

Kathleen Jennings (University of Queensland) - "Heyer... in Space! The Influence of Georgette Heyer on Science Fiction"

Vanda Wilcox (John Cabot University) - "Georgette Heyer, Wellington’s army and the First World War"

Geraldine Perriam (University of Glasgow) - "The Not-so-silly-ass: Freddy Standen, his Fictional contemporaries and Alternative Masculinity"

Tom Zille (Humboldt University) - "Georgette Heyer and the Language of the Historical Novel"

Deborah Longworth (University of Birmingham) - "From Almack’s to Astley’s: Regency World-building in the work of Georgette Heyer"

Sally Moore (University of Hertfordshire) - "Divorced, Beheaded, Died . . . The Problem with the Tudors in Romance Fiction"

Holly Hirst (Manchester Metropolitan University) - "Georgette Heyer and Redefining the Gothic Romance"

Stacy Gillis (Newcastle University) - "‘Ordinary People’: Austen and the Literary Genealogy of the Regency Romance"

jay Dixon (Independent Scholar) - "The Regency Novel under Heyer’s Influence"

Louise Allen (Independent Scholar) - "Writing in Heyer’s Shadow"

Roundtable discussion on Teaching Popular Historical Romance in the Literature Curriculum - Deborah Longworth, University of Birmingham

Lucie Dutton (Birkbeck, University of London) - "A Reluctant Movie"

Amy Street (Independent Scholar) - "Guilty Pleasures: Georgette Heyer"

Helen Davidge (Independent Scholar) - "Data Science, Georgette Heyer's Historical Novels and her Readers"

Roundtable discussion on Branding for the digital generation: Georgette Heyer’s book jackets as expressions of publishing contexts and fields - Mary Ann Kernan, City, University of London; Kim Wilkins, University of Queensland; Samantha Rayner, UCL

Plenary: Professor Kathryn Sutherland, Senior Research Fellow, St Anne's College Oxford, " 'Where history says little, fiction may say much': women writers and the historical novel"

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Literary Criticism Following its Heart, Teaching Twitter, Challenging Racism through Fiction, Archives and Reviews

Some of the papers from the Bowling Green State University's recent conference on romance are now available from them.

Eric Selinger's "Use Heart in Your (Re)Search: The Invitations of Popular Romance" suggests that the protagonists' four-step quest in Sherry Thomas’s neo-Victorian historical romance My Beautiful Enemy
offer[s] us a guide to the heartfelt thinking and learning to which many romance novels — not all, perhaps, but many -- invite us as scholars, as students, and as teachers of the genre, at least in a literary studies context 
The first step by the way, is to "Believe the Legend": "In the context of popular romance studies, believing the legend entails believing that romance novels offer something worth learning, treasures worth finding".

As discussed in "Romancelandia on Twitter: Designing a Digital Humanities Research Assignment for First-Year Writing Students" Heather M. Schell and Ann K. G. Brown have been collaborating
to develop an assignment sequence around original research on romance authors’ public social networks. The project uses Social Feed Manager and textual analysis tools to give students the opportunity to shape their own research questions and study the Twitter feed of the romance author of their choice. In-class activities will help students track down supplemental research and think through the ethical questions raised by studying individuals’ social media accounts. (from the abstract)
Elizabeth Kingston writes as an author of historical romance novels about how "History's Been Hijacked: How To Combat White Supremacy Through Popular Literature".
it is undeniable that the version of history taught by romance novels has made it far easier for white supremacist arguments to be accepted by otherwise intelligent, well - read people. To put it simply, the well is poisoned, and if you read historical romance, you are drinking from that well.
She's also posted (a very slightly shorter version of) the paper on her own website along with a follow-up piece, "Practical Advice: Expanded edition" which is exactly what its title states it is.

The Journal of Popular Romance Studies (JPRS) is going to publish on a rolling basis. The first few articles of issue 7 are now available:

"Romance Fiction in the Archives" by Kecia Ali.

Kecia describes a visit to the Ray and Pat Browne Popular Culture Library (PCL) at Bowling Green State University. They have a large and ever-expanding romance collection, so Kecia couldn't see more than a tiny proportion of her holdings. In fact, she was only looking at a small proportion of the Romance Writers of America (RWA) archives and:
I skimmed over or skipped past many tantalizing leads and materials. [...] Many projects might benefit from consulting the collection. In other cases, entire projects might be built around the archival material. This list is partial, idiosyncratic, and woefully incomplete, meant only to offer a starting point for thinking about drawing on the archives.

"Review: Heartthrobs: A History of Women and Desire, by Carol Dyhouse" by Jonathan A. Allan

"Review: Romance Fiction and American Culture: Love as the Practice of Freedom?, edited by William A. Gleason and Eric Murphy Selinger" by Victoria Kennedy

Thursday, May 10, 2018

New to the Wiki: Death, Monsters, Migrations, Du Maurier and more

Here are the new entries, recently added by Christina Martinez and me.

Leonzini, Alexandra, 2018. 
‘“All the Better to Eat You With”: The Eroticization of the Werewolf and the Rise of Monster Porn in the Digital Age.’ Exploring the Fantastic: Genre, Ideology, and Popular Culture. Ed. Ina Batzke, Eric C. Erbacher, Linda M. Heß, Corinna Lenhardt. Bielefeld: transcript. 269-294. [“Starting her analysis with 19th-century horror fiction before moving to 20th-century films and 21-century romance and erotic literature, Leonzini traces the changes in the construction of the gendered and sexualized body of the figure of the werewolf” (12) and there is therefore quite a lot of reference to romance, which is deemed to have laid the groundwork for modern monster porn. Excerpt.]
Lowery, Karalyne, 2018. 
"The Militarized Shapeshifter: Authorized Violence and Military Connections as an Antidote to Monstrosity." University of Toronto Quarterly 87.1: 196-213. Abstract.
O'Mahony, Lauren. 2017. 
"Death and the Australian Rural Romance Novel." TEXT: Journal of Writing and Writing Courses, vol. (Supplement 45), Oct. 2017, pp. 1-14. [Full text]
 
Salvador Miguel, Nicasio, 1995. 
¿Hay precedentes de la novela rosa? Letras de la España contemporánea. Homenaje a José Luis Varela, ed. N. Salvador Miguel (Alcalá de Henares: Centro de Estudios Cervantinos): 319-327. [Full text]
Suman [Sigroha], 2018. 
"Gendered Migrations and Literary Narratives: Writing Communities in South Asian Diaspora." Millennial Asia 9.1: 93-108.[Full text] [On "educated skilled women from South Asia who migrate as ‘trailing spouses’" and turn to romance-writing as an alternative, portable career.]
Turner, Katherine. 2017. 
"Daphne Du Maurier's Mary Anne: Rewriting the Regency Romance as Feminist History." University of Toronto Quarterly: A Canadian Journal of the Humanities, vol. 86, no. 4, pp. 54-77. [Abstract]

Vitackova, Martina, 2018. 
"Representation of racial and sexual ‘others’ in Afrikaans popular romantic fiction by Sophia Kapp." Tydskrif vir letterkunde 55.1. 122-133. Abstract and link to pdf


Saturday, April 14, 2018

Day 2: Bowling Green State University's Romance Conference

As I mentioned in my last post, more details about the conference, which is being held on April 13-14, can be found here and you can follow events as they happen on Twitter, via #bgsuromcon18.

Today's papers are:

Contemporary Paranormal Romance: Theories and Development of the Genre’s Feminism (Or Lack Thereof)

Kathleen Kollman, Bowling Green State University


Paranormal romance is a contentious subgenre that some critics have castigated as being anti-feminist. Linda J. Lee writes that this subgenre features “male protagonists [who often] come from a cultural background in which men are dominant over women” (61), and Sandra Booth argues that paranormal romances featuring a monstrous hero and angelic heroine hearken back to highly patriarchal forms of gender roles, including consensual sex that reads like violent rape (96-99). However, as the genre proliferated beyond its initial surge in popularity in the 1990s, it—like romance novels generally—matured beyond its beginnings and manifested more complex ideologies. As Lee Tobin-McClain writes, the concept of “collective authorship” of romance causes it to be even more influenced by audience expectations than other literary genres (296), resulting in the need for heightened levels of feminist relationships in popular titles. In this essay, I will be exploring Tobin-McClain’s thesis, along with positioning paranormal romance as a twin heredity form sharing more features of horror and urban fantasy than may initially be apparent. As data points, I will be examining contemporary paranormal romance in the vampire subgenre, specifically Dead Until Dark (Charlaine Harris, 2001), A Quick Bite (Lynsay Sands, 2005), A Shade of Vampire (Bella Forrest, 2012), Immortal Faith (Shelley Adina, 2013), The Art of Loving a Vampire (Jaye Wells, 2013), and Bite Mark (Lily Harlem, 2016). Each of these six books represents an even more specific subgenre within vampire paranormal romance (urban fantasy, family saga, young adult, Amish romance, mystery, and ménage, respectively), and each was first published within the past two decades. By taking into account the scholarly genealogy of paranormal romance pre-2000, I will be seeking to assess whether the work written since that point continues to reflect those themes or if, in fact, several popular exemplars of the genre have grown to exhibit a more overtly feminist sensibility.
Love in the Time of Twitter: Identity, Relationships, and Fantasy in Modern Young Adult Romance
Patricia Ennis, Bowling Green State University
Social media has become pervasive in our society over the last 10 years. It has transformed the way we communicate and interact, has turned strangers into friends, and has allowed us to maintain a multitude of personalities, specifically curated for the platform in question. Who we are online is different than who we are in public which is itself different from who we are in private. Online we can be whoever we want to be. We can be idealized versions of ourselves. We can accept parts of ourselves we might otherwise deny or hide away those parts we — or others — might find objectionable. As the popularity of social media has increased, and as the internet has become less frightening and more widely seen as a tool of communication, so too has it become much more prevalent as a facet of young adult romantic fiction. In this paper, I analyze a number of recent novels in which social media and the internet plays a vital role and look critically at the way we construct identity and relationships online and the concerns, hopes, and anxieties modern teenagers face in these interactions. 
Not Cosplaying Around
Nicole Drew, Bowling Green State University
Novels like Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell have begun bringing fandom to the forefront of the romance genre. Cosplay, as a part of fandom, is also becoming more relevant in romance novels, but the depiction of the hobby is not always favorable. The goal of this paper is to compare the depiction of cosplay in romance novels from kink to hobby and to examine the treatment of cosplay in the romance industry and what impact it could have on those who actually participate in the hobby. I will use novels like Don’t Cosplay with my Heart by Cecil Castelucci (2018), Waiting for Clark by Annabeth Albert (20150, and A Different Kind of Cosplay by Lucy Felthouse (2015), as well as synopses for other novels like these with cosplay as an important part of the plot (or lack thereof). I will be comparing the way each novel addresses, utilizes, and treats cosplay and whether it is an accurate depiction of the cosplay community as a whole. There is plenty of study on the way audiences receive the content of romance novels; this paper will repurpose those studies for this particular subgenre to decide whether the portrayals could result in a fancified idea of those who participate in cosplay, including Stewart Hall’s audience reception theory and Ann Snitow’s example of literary analysis. I argue that most depictions are not accurate to actual cosplayers and that readers come away with false expectations of what cosplay is and how it operates.

Seriously Becky Don’t You Know Hallmark Christmas Movies are Just Romance Novels on Film?
Alexander Lester, Bowling Green State University
According, to Pamela Regis the conventions of Romance Novels are Simple and Finite. Each romance novel has eight essential elements that permeate throughout its plot. In this paper, I look at the correlation between two Hallmark Christmas Movies that were adapted from romance novels The Christmas Cottage, A Bramble House Christmas and compare them to Hallmark's made for TV movie Fir Crazy. I argue that the 8 essential elements are seen in made for TV Hallmark Christmas Movies as well as novels adapted for film thus making them Romance Novels are written for television.
I Found Romance at the Spinner Rack: The History & Evolution of Romance Comics
Charles Coletta
Following World War II, comic book publishers soon realized that sales of their superhero titles were starting to decline as the once-prominent genre was diminishing in popularity. To retain their readers’ interest, the publishers cancelled many of the superhero titles and diversified into other genres, such as science fiction, war, Westerns, crime, horror, and romance. Young Romance #1 (1947), which was created by the legendary team of Jack Kirby and Joe Simon, is widely regarded as the first romance comic. The pair produced and oversaw numerous romance comics for twelve years until Kirby left and transitioned to Marvel Comics. Young Romace gained great popularity and spawned numerous other titles featuring work by some of the industry’s top writers and artists. Aimed primarily at teen girl readers, the romance comics genre remained vital until the mid-1970s when the rise of the women’s liberation movement and sexual revolution caused the comics to seem overly innocent, bland, and accepting of traditional patriarchal concepts of women’s behavior and gender roles. This presentation will offer a history of the romance comics genre from the 1940s to the 1970s by looking at its creators, themes, and readership; it will also include an in-depth examination of the Kirby-Simon stories that helped establish the genre.

Romance covers in Brazil: online interactions between fandom and publishing houses
Giovana Santana Carlos, DePaul University
Book covers are very important for romance fandom (RODALE, 2015). They express the stories and the genre through images and design (MCKNIGHT-TRONTZ, 2002) becoming an important factor for the readers when buying a book. But not always the fan is content with the cover. While is possible to observe that sometimes the writer does not have power of decision related to the covers (GREENFELD-BENOVITZ, 2012), it becomes more complicated when the book is published in foreigner countries, depending on contracts between publishers. In Brazil the romance book market is formed by most of international titles and writers translated to Portuguese. Not always the books can have the same cover as the original, so they are adapted or completely changed. However, as Brazilian romance fans follow their favorite writers and know how the original cover was published, they use social network websites to express their opinion and interact with the publishing houses. These companies also have learned the importance of covers to fans and interact with the readers (JENKINS, 2008). Thus, in this presentation I intend to show cases of online interactions on Facebook between fandom and publishers in Brazil that depict two perspectives: first, covers changed after fan complains and, second, publishing houses posting options of cover for fan voting. The collected data on Facebook regards books from Megan Maxwell, J. R. Ward and Leisa Rayven. These interactions present the importance of fandom for the development and establishment of romance book market in Brazil.
She’s an Athlete, but Don’t Worry, She’s Still Beautiful; Images of Female American Football Players on Romance Novel Covers
Joanna Line, Bowling Green State University
This paper analyzes the portrayal of female American football players on the covers of the three romance novels in The Cleveland Clash Series from Crimson Romance and compares these covers to two Crimson Romance novels that portray male American football players, to explore similarities and differences between how female and male athleticism are depicted. While the storylines of The Cleveland Clash novels provide a space to challenge the American cultural ideology that femininity and athleticism are conflicting concepts, the covers of the romance novels affirm the femininity of the female athletes while indications of their athleticism are absent. On the other hand, the portrayal of male athletes affirms the association of masculinity with athleticism. The relationship between gender performance, athleticism, and visual portrayal will be explored through Butler’s concept of gender performativity, Mulvey’s concept of the male gaze, Duncan’s theory of discourse within sport photography, and Goffman’s framing theory to assert that the portrayal of female American football players on the covers of The Cleveland Clash Series demonstrate the conflicting ideology of femininity and female athleticism.

Wherefore Art Thou Fabio? 50 Years of Romance Novel Cover Design
Andrea J. Briggs, McDaniel College
The art of the romance novel cover is just as important in reflecting consumer desires as the material contained within its pages. This presentation provides a comprehensive look at cover art trends and tropes of popular romance novels ranging from the 1960s to today, as publishers have adapted to the changing market of readers, visually differentiating and defining subgenres of popular romance literature.
How Amazon has shaped the future of the Self-Published Author
Constance M. Phillips, MVRAI Published Author
Not that long ago self-publishing was looked down upon and referred to as vanity publishing, insinuating the author had more ego than talent. All that has changed over the last decade. When Amazon launched the Kindle, they made ebooks easily assessible to everyone. The voracious appetite of the avid reader created a high demand and savvy authors began looking at independent publishing.
This turned the traditional publishing industry on it’s ear and created a new business model for the independent and hybrid authors.
In this presentation I will look at how Amazon, and the success of their Kindle ereader, has forever changed the publishing industry—especially in the romance genre. I will also examine the lasting effects these changes have had on traditional romance publishing companies.

Researching Contemporary Settings without Traveling
Jill Kemerer
Authors don’t always have the option of researching a setting in person. Time, financial and physical constraints prevent many writers from heading out west or spending weeks in Paris. A novel’s setting shapes the story and influences the characters’ thoughts and actions. Readers want to experience the mountains or city where the book takes place, and extra care must be taken to get the details right.
One way to get an overall impression of an area is to read a memoir of someone who lived there. Another method is to use online tools such as Google Earth, weather data sites, cost of living comparison tools, historical websites and visitor guides. For sensory details and local flavor, social media networks can connect writers with people who reside in the area. For instance, Google+ has groups for photographers in many states. They’re generous with their knowledge and share great pictures.
With modern technology, memoirs and help from people who live there, any setting can come alive, and readers will feel transported to another place.

Romance Law School is Now In Session
Jill A. Smith, Georgetown University Law Center
Plotting a murder, divorce, or even a trip to traffic court for your novel’s characters? Do you know how to make that realistic? You already know what state your characters are in, but do you know what jurisdiction you’re dealing with? State? Federal? Is this a criminal matter? If so, has your character committed every element necessary to successfully charge them with a crime? Are you sure the law that you know about in your home state is the same as the state where you’ve set your book?
If these questions are making you panic, never fear, you need to consult a law librarian. But you should also be prepared for that encounter.
In this session, Georgetown Law Librarian Jill Smith (a.k.a. romance novelist Adele Buck) will teach you how to structure your research queries, both for research on your own and for interacting effectively and efficiently with law librarians (and how to find those sometimes elusive creatures so you can ask for their assistance). She will show you some free legal resources available on the internet and how to begin to navigate them. She will also cover common pitfalls and misunderstandings about how the law and civil and criminal court systems operate to ensure that your manuscript is lawyer-ready and librarian-approved.
The value of wearing two hats: Reflections of a romance writer by night/feminist media scholar by day
Jessica Birthisel, Bridgewater State University
By night, I’m likely to be tucked behind my computer, writing the spicy passages of my next contemporary romance novel under my pen name. By day, I’m likely to be teaching, analyzing or researching similar content as a professor of media studies and a feminist media scholar at a public university in New England. In this session, I’ll wear both hats, sharing my experiences of hopping across this line between producer and fan, between author and media critic, and how I’ve found these unique perspectives to inform one another in essential ways. First, I’ll share how my academic training in feminist media analysis has prepared me to join a vibrant (and growing) community of romance authors writing feminist, intersectional, women-centered and diversity-conscious romances, which I argue play a vital role within our current social and political climate. I’ll also discuss my process – and rationale – for applying a feminist critique to my own works-in-progress. Conversely, I’ll share how my experiences as a romance author and as an active member in the professional romance writing community (including the Romance Writers of America) have shaped my academic media scholarship in important and positive ways. Key considerations of the session include: the role of self-publishing in the diversification of the romance genre, romance’s potential for subverting social and cultural norms, and the increasingly blurred lines between production and reception.
Keynote- Dr. Kate Brown, Huntington University
Kate Brown, Huntington University
Originally from a suburb of Buffalo, New York, Dr. Kate Elizabeth Brown received her Bachelor of Science in Applied Economics and Management from Cornell University in 2004 and her Ph.D. in American History from the University of Virginia in 2015.
She specializes in American legal and constitutional history, politics in the colonial, early republic, and antebellum eras, as well as English legal history.
Dr. Brown was a 2017 recipient of an academic research grant from the Romance Writers of America for a project which explores how English common law and constitutionalism give fundamental structure and substance to the historical romance genre. She will be discussing her work and research.
Guest of Honor- Beverly Jenkins
Beverly Jenkins is the recipient of the 2017 Romance Writers of America Nora Roberts Lifetime Achievement Award, as well as the 2016 Romantic Times Reviewers’ Choice Award for historical romance. She has been nominated for the NAACP Image Award in Literature, was featured both in the documentary “Love Between the Covers” and on CBS Sunday Morning.Since the publication of Night Song in 1994, she has been leading the charge for multicultural romance, and has been a constant darling of reviewers, fans, and her peers alike, garnering accolades for her work from the likes of The Wall Street Journal, People Magazine, and NPR.

Friday, April 13, 2018

Bowling Green State University's romance conference starts today.

More details about the conference, which is being held on April 13-14, can be found here and you can follow events as they happen on Twitter, via #bgsuromcon18 and some can also be found on .

The guest of honor for the conference will be 2017 RWA Nora Roberts Lifetime Achievement Award Recipient Beverly Jenkins, who has published more than 30 novels and is well-known for the level of detailed research she puts into each of her books – making her the perfect guest for this conference. She will be speaking and signing books Saturday afternoon at the Wood County District Public Library.

On the Friday there are presentations on a range of academic topics, including pedagogy, librarianship, masculinity, horror, feminism, research, race/ethnicity/nationality and history:

Romancelandia on Twitter: Designing a Digital Humanities Research Assignment for First-Year Writing Students
Heather M. Schell, George Washington University
Ann K. G. Brown, George Washington University
In Heather’s first-year writing class, Love and American Culture, in the primary goal is to introduce students to academic writing and research. Part of this entails helping students experience the excitement of writing a research paper when the topic is new and the questions are motivated by genuine interest. Heather has been collaborating with Ann, a research librarian, to develop an assignment sequence around original research on romance authors’ public social networks. The project uses Social Feed Manager and textual analysis tools to give students the opportunity to shape their own research questions and study the Twitter feed of the romance author of their choice.
The Category Romance Project: First-year Students Researching Romance
Jen Wofford, Ithaca College
“Vintage” category romances – commercial romance novels published twenty years old and older – can provide a fascinating data set for “community inquiry” (CoI), and a novel way to introduce students of writing to textual analysis. In its third iteration, my Ithaca College course Reading Popular Romance, is a writing-intensive first-year seminar taught using a Community of Inquiry (CoI) approach to instruction.
Where are all the Fun Books: Popular Romance and Science Fiction Novels in Academic Libraries
Sarah Sheehan, Manhattan College
Academic libraries have an uneven record of collecting popular contemporary literature (genre fiction). Due to this unevenness, colleges and universities that offer courses about particular genres or collect works devoted to the study of genre fiction may not actually own the primary texts. This study examines the extent to which award-winning novels in two popular genres—romance and science fiction—are included in the libraries of 114 major research universities (the Association of Research Libraries) and 80 prominent liberal arts colleges (the Oberlin Group).
Fantasies of Black Manhood: Black Masculinities in Brenda Jackson’s Westmoreland Series
Kelly L. Choyke, Ohio University - Main Campus
Kay-Anne P. Darlington PhD, University of Rio Grande
Popular romance is truly one of the few communities and forms of media where the male point of view is not catered to. While the romance genre is the most profitable and least respected literary genre, romance novels have nevertheless become a safe space to explore marginalized identities. Our study focuses on the representation of black masculinities in Brenda Jackson’s Westmoreland Series, published as category romances via Harlequin.
Happily Ever After …. And After: time travel, history and romance in the novels of Susanna Kearsley
Sarah H. Ficke, Marymount University
[...] place often plays a central role in romance fiction. A perfectly-decorated seaside cottage, like a gorgeous silk gown, can be materialistic wish fulfillment for a reader who has neither gown nor cottage. However, place can also be deeply emotional, creating and shaping the conditions for relationships. In this presentation, I will be exploring the intersection between romance, place, and history in three novels by Susanna Kearsley: The Winter Sea, The Rose Garden, and Mariana.
[...] Although they range across time, each of these novels is anchored by its setting, which plays a crucial role in the emotional development of the characters and their relationships. [...] I will argue that these novels provide a framework that can help us understand the simultaneous specificity of romance – a series of intimate moments between people – and our urge to view it as a timeless emotion.
True Love and Real Terror: Romance and Horror in Megan Hart’s The Darkest Embrace and Reawakened Passions
David Aldrich, Bowling Green State University
The Darkest Embrace and Reawakened Passions are romances that take place alongside a horror plot. Using Pamela Regis’s outline of essential elements of the romance, I will chart how both novellas fit the formula of a romance novel in a relatively short amount of pages. I will also make comparisons between Hart’s work and other short works of contemporary horror fiction produced online. This paper will show that the romance genre can be combined with the horror genre in a way that satisfies the expectations and conventions of both romance and horror, all in a short fiction format for a online audience.
Finding the Fairy Tale in Popular Romance
Linda J. Lee, University of Pennsylvania
Some novels retell specific well-known fairy tales, like “Cinderella” and “Beauty and the Beast” [...], while others incorporate a variety of fairy tale motifs without retelling a specific tale type [...]. Fairy tale intertextual references appear in just about every romance novel sub-genre [...]. Despite the almost ubiquity of fairy tale intertexts in romance, there are few scholarly considerations of the relationship between these narrative forms. Part of the difficulty is the misalignment between fairy tale theories and methods and the form of the romance novel. Jennifer Crusie’s “This Is Not Your Mother’s Cinderella: The Romance Novel as Feminist Fairy Tale” demonstrates some of the difficulties encountered when applying fairy tale theory to romance novels. Disciplinary boundaries and lack of familiarity with discipline-specific research methodologies and tools is another research challenge. In this paper proposes using Michael Dylan Foster and Jeffrey Tolbert’s concept of “the folkloresque” as a way to interrogate the use of fairy tales within popular romance novels.

Laboring for Love: Authorial Emotional Labor as Feminist Project in the Romance Novel Outlander
Emma Elizabeth Niehaus, Bowling Green State University
I argue that the common reception of the romance novel is yet another example of women’s emotional labor being regarded as frivolously sentimental when in actuality it is impactful social excavation. My project uses an analysis of emotional work to argue for the romance genre as a feminist project. Though the romance novel has been widely disputed as a viable feminist project, an in depth examination of the emotional labor of characters and writer has been widely overlooked in this argument. As example, I examine the romance novel Outlander, and the emotional labor performed by author Diana Gabaldon for the story’s heroine, Claire Randall. 
Researching the Romance Writers' Research
Caryn Radick, Rutgers University - New Brunswick/Piscataway
In this presentation, an archivist discusses her outreach to romance writers to learn more about their research behaviors, particularly their interest in and use of archives for writing their works. The results of this outreach led to the presenter’s article “Romance Writers’ Use of Archives,” published in Archivaria in 2016. It also led the presenter to invite two romance authors, Piper Huguley and Jennifer McQuiston, to the Society of American Archivists 2016 annual meeting to participate in a panel discussion on the role of research in their work. The presenter will share data gathered as part of a survey of romance writers about their research and discuss how the conversation at the panel session provided insight on how archivists might better serve the romance community and why it would be beneficial to do so.

Use Heart in Your (Re)Search: The Invitations of Popular Romance
Eric Murphy Selinger, DePaul University
Romance writers do research—but what about romance readers? If they do, what does their “research” look like? In this talk, I will explore the kinds of learning that previous scholars have said (and, sometimes, worried) might be inspired by romance fiction, with an eye to how these relate to the teaching and learning at work in other popular genres. (Thomas Roberts’s argument that all popular fiction invites us to “Think With Tired Brains” about serious and interesting topics will be central to this discussion; his Aesthetics of Junk Fiction has been central to my romance pedagogy for the past four or five years.) I will then compare these critical accounts with the actual learning and research that my students and I engage in as we grapple with romance novels in English courses at DePaul: both multi-author / subgenre surveys and 10-week courses focused on individual texts. One of those narrowly-focused seminars, on Sherry Thomas’s My Beautiful Enemy, will be underway during the conference, and I will describe what we are doing in it and why. (A clue from the heroine’s quest for ancient treasure in that novel, “use heart in your search,” gives my talk its title.) Rather than ask what romance novels do or don’t teach readers in general, I want to detail about what a few individual novels invite us to go and learn, about how they extend those invitations, and about what we find when we take up their offers, whether in or out of school.
History's Been Hijacked: How To Combat White Supremacy Through Popular Literature
Elizabeth Kingston
At the 2017 rally in Charlottesville, white supremacists carried banners covered in medieval heraldry alongside their Confederate flags, laying claim to the Middle Ages as a white, Christian utopia. This whitewashing of history and construction of a “white race” began during the Age of Enlightenment, and continued through the 19th century – which just happens to be the most popular setting for Historical Romance.
Often seen as providing harmless escapism, the persistent fabrication of an all-white, all-Christian universe has resulted in an ignorance so extreme that many readers of Historical Romance reject the historical validity of non-white characters, or question the possibility that any non-white character could have a “happily ever after” in a white-dominated world. While this attitude has a dismaying effect on the genre, the wider implications of creating a popular fantasy world based on white supremacist ideology – and presenting is as actual history – are chilling.
For better or worse, our understanding of history largely comes from portrayals in pop culture, from Game of Thrones to Downton Abbey. Writers in the wildly popular genre of Romance have an opportunity to shape the perceptions of readers to more closely match the historical reality, and to prevent racially motivated hate groups from co-opting centuries of European history for their own purposes.
Romance Novels for Feminists: What Does That Mean?
Elizabeth Brownlow, Bowling Green State University
How do online spaces allow feminist romance readers to define and negotiate feminism for themselves? How do these readers define which romance novels are feminist, and which are not? In this case study, I will look at the popular romance review blog, Romance Novels for Feminists (RNFF). In 2009, Jackie C. Horne, a romance novelist, former children’s book editor, and literary scholar, established RNFF to review and comment on romance novels in all subgenres. RNFF does not explicitly state criteria for book selection, only stating that it “strives to review only books that in its opinion espouse and/or encourage feminist value.” RNFF’s reviews of feminist romance novels are based on a no-grading system intended to open up conversations about feminism and fiction. The reviews on RNFF allow for dialogue amongst readers, responding to both the books themselves and to Horne’s reading of them. This paper will explore the traits that Horne homes in on for her selection of “feminist romance” criteria as well as the traits that blog responders find most important. I will focus particularly on claims of sexist and feminist contradictions in these reviews. Moments of agreement and disagreement between reviewer and responders suggest romance readers are using online spaces such as RNFF to determine what feminism means to them as well as to form and articulate opinions on what does and does not count as feminist in the genre.
Romance Vs. Realism: How Critical Battles over Postwar Teen Romance Novels Led to the Emergence of Canonical Young Adult Literature
Amanda Allen, Eastern Michigan University 
In 1942, Maureen Daly published Seventeenth Summer, the wellspring text for a new genre of American romance novels aimed at a freshly-minted teenage reading audience. Called the “junior novels,” this genre was comprised of romance novels—often series texts— that focused on a girl’s first love experience. Although they quickly became the main stock of emerging teen library sections, the scholarship surrounding them became a site of contention, polarized into two opposing—and gendered—camps: (female) librarians, and (male) academics housed in English and English Education departments.
This paper uses the lens of Pierre Bourdieu’s theories of cultural production to examine not the junior novels themselves, but their reception by critics—a reception based on early Cold War values regarding what constituted “good” literature for girl readers (and, as a corollary, what constituted “good girls”). Thus, although librarian critics valued these romance novels for their use in girls’ socialization, most post-secondary academic critics opposed them, placing value on their view of literary quality. This use versus quality dichotomy, moreover, masked an underlying—and gendered—struggle over defining “realism” as specifically antithetical to “romance.”
An examination of the junior novel critics’ scholarship thus demonstrates a hidden, historical battle regarding who had the right—and ability—to define what constituted “value” in literature for girls, and illustrates how American postwar teen romance novels led to the creation and sanctioning of canonical young adult literature.

Stigmatizing the Romance Genre: Reading Romance in the Digital Age
Angela Hart, American University, Washington D.C.
The romance genre emerged as a counterpublic; a way for women to write books about women for women. Originally, the romance genre was not viewed as gender specific; but after World War II, and the return of men from the battlefields, women went back to their traditional roles, i.e. at home with their families. Romance novels have become a way to place female protagonists at the center of a story. Heroines across the genre are justified in their wants and desires, placing emphasis on the female experience and viewpoint. Today, romance readers face stigmatization due to their literary interests. Rather than celebrate a genre by women for women, readers and writers face marginalization. Avid readers of the romance genre find their voices in the online sphere; for instance, posting reviews or blog articles anonymously. On one hand, the online sphere should be commended for its ability to foster freedom of expression. Yet, on the other hand, it should be noted that the stigma surrounding the romance genre creates the need for ongoing anonymity. While readers are able to vocalize their thoughts, they may only feel comfortable doing so in an anonymous setting, unintentionally fostering the ongoing stigma of romance. The growth, accessibility, and affordability of e-books has also created a method for combating the genre’s stigma. Readers can make their literary purchases in the privacy of their own homes and privately read books on their electronic devices without preying eyes on recognizable romance book covers. The digital landscape is redefining romance and how readers discus the genre.
An Articulation of Modern Indian Values in the Romance of Sandhya Sridhar
Kristen Rudisill, Bowling Green State University
In 2009, avid romance reader Sandhya Sridhar quit her job at a newspaper in Chennai, India, and started her own company, Pageturn Publisher, which included the Red Romance Series, to publish English-language novels that she billed as “full blooded desi romance.” She sensed a need for romance novels more relatable to Indian readers than the imported Mills and Boons she grew up with. I argue elsewhere that desi romance can be considered a subgenre of romance, with the novels marked as Indian in a variety of ways that include language, content, and cultural values. Sridhar has written three books in the series, two in its first year (2010) and one in 2012. In this paper, I argue that Sridhar’s books have functioned as yardsticks for other authors and model the goals of this new subgenre. Through close readings of Heartbeats, Endless Time, and 31 Somnath Street, I address questions about family involvement in romance, acceptable erotic language, issues of consent, and an articulation of modern Indian values regarding sex and marriage. These values include respect for elders’ input, the inherent desirability of marriage and children, the prioritizing of the family over the individual, the importance of consent when it comes to intimate relationships, respect for all women, and women’s control over their own bodies and sexuality. These values reflect to readers Red’s ideas about of identity, self-realization, and romance in a post-colonial world.

Bringing Sexy Back: Asian/Asian-American Men as Romantic Leads
Trinidad Linares, Bowling Green State University
Although the image of an Asian/Asian-American woman has been a hypersexualized one, the Asian/Asian-American man has been a desexualized figure in American history. In contrast to Black or Latinx men, Asian/Asian American men have been represented as asexual or gay. They are the Other who does not pose a sexual threat to the white man because they lack sexual power or prowess. These stereotypes have created an imbalance in what minimal representations exist for Asian/Asian Americans in American culture, including romance novels. As a result, there are often more representations of Asian/Asian American women in interracial relationships with white men than there are of strictly Asian/Asian American couples. My presentation focuses on the history behind the sexless Asian/Asian American man stereotype and how trends in American popular culture towards Asian/Asian American men may be changing perspectives of them, which may be impacting the romance industry and could also be impacted by the romance industry. I will provide examples of how author ethnicities and audience reaction to Asian/Asian American men may be catapulting Asian/Asian American men to lead roles in romance novels for the American market. These Asian/Asian American leading men present a new option for masculinity, where sexual attractiveness and ability are not reliant on the abuse of the power dynamic between men and women because there are comparable oppressions (interracial coupling between a white woman and an Asian/Asian American man) or whiteness is decentralized (Asian/Asian American couple or an Asian/Asian American man with a woman of color).
Outlandish romance: Fan and author navigation of romance genre boundaries
Spring Duvall, Salem College
When the first novel in the international bestselling Outlander series debuted in 1991, it was marketed as a quintessential historical romance - complete with a highly stylized cover - and shelved in the romance genre sections of bookstores and libraries. Cementing its status as a romance novel, Outlander won the Romance Writers of America's RITA Award for Best Romance of 1991. Yet, even though author Diana Gabaldon courted romance fans and accepted the community’s awards, she also insisted that her novels were not just romance novels and struggled for years to have her books moved into general fiction sections and to be recognized as more than just a romance writer.
This in-depth critical analysis of Gabaldon’s body of work examines her uneasy position within the romance genre and the tensions among her critics and fans who seek to define her as a romance writer or establish her as a general fiction writer. This presentation will discuss a textual analysis of the Outlander books and the television adaptation of the series, as well as a critical analysis of online fan communities and media critics who review the books and television series. In this research, I position myself as both a feminist media scholar who studies and teaches scholarship on romance novels and as a long-term fan of Gabaldon’s work who is deeply familiar with the Outlander fan community.
Paranormal Romance: A History
Maria T. Ramos-Garcia, South Dakota State University
Paranormal Romance was a term coined in the 1990’s, but during that decade, this subgenre was very marginal. The genre, which was all but disappearing by the year 2000 started to take off at the beginning of the 21st Century. September 11th triggered a new interest in romances with paranormal elements that allowed both writers and readers to delve on issues too painful or controversial to confront directly at the time. In the early years after the attack there was a preponderance of novels portraying the shock of discovering magical (and menacing) elements irrupting in our everyday reality. Later on series tended to develop fictional worlds in which the paranormal elements were a given, abandoning the discovery narratives. They either reflect a dystopian reality, or the realistic world becomes a backdrop for the action, but not an essential element of it. Over time, the superficially apolitical nature of the paranormal romance has been eroded with more openly ideological discourses emerging often. This evolution parallels the trajectory of other non-romance genres, especially urban fantasy. This paper will offer an overview of the history of the genre, emphasizing the connections between romance, culture, and history. While romance as a reflection of the changing gender roles of women over time has been frequently observed by critics, there is a scarcity of a more systematic evaluation of romance as a dynamic genre intimately connected with its historical moment. This paper will challenge this perspective offering a new reading of this subgenre.
Christian Romance Novels through the Eyes of West African Women
Philomena Archibong Offiong, Bowling Green State University
The romance novel has been a source of ridicule and criticism ever since its inception and most especially due to its consumption by women. Scholars such as Tania Modleski and Janice Radway arguing that it actually empowers women of which African women are included. However, there exists little or no scholarship on African Romance novels or even Romance novels based on Africa. My paper, therefore, seeks to address the scarcity of African romance novels which special attention to West African women. It is interesting to find out that mostly Christian authors have been able to combine these two powerful themes into a novel that entertain while evangelizing to people. The West African woman like every other in the Western world enjoy romance novels, however, there exist very literature on African Romance novels. My paper seeks to determine if the few African romance novels are written and published by African press follow the romance formula and most importantly, do these books be used by feminists to empower more women or are these novels in tune with the African cultures and religious beliefs that endorses patriarchal rule. My paper will use the use the novel of Unoma Nwankwor’s “An Unexpected Blessing” and Lynn Neal’s “Romancing God” since the novel falls under Christian romance and African women are noted to be religious; thus shedding more light on the relevance of this little-recognized issue.
Fantasies of Masculinity in Male/Male Popular Romance
Jonathan Allan, Brandon University
In her book, Hard-Core Romance: Fifty Shades of Grey, Best-Sellers, and Society, Eva Illouz asks: “why is traditional masculinity pleasurable in fantasy?” (58) To answer this question, I focus on the rise of the male/male popular romance novel, and think through why these novels are pleasurable. To these ends, I draw on Lucy Neville’s work on gay pornography, which she argues “subverts the patriarchal order by challenging masculinist values, providing a protected space for non-conformist, non-reproductive, non-familiar sexuality, and encourages many sex-positive values” (204). While this may be true of gay pornography, can we say the same is true of the male/male popular romance? Does the male/male popular romance novel really subvert the “patriarchal order”? Does it provide a space that “encourages many sex-positive values”? As such, this paper attends to a close reading of texts alongside theoretical work coming out of queer theory and the critical study of men and masculinities. Ultimately, I argue that the male/male popular romance novel remains an important site of analysis for studies of masculinity, but that, at bottom, we are still left with “traditional masculinity” as noted by Illouz, and, in many ways, the “profoundly bourgeois" (207) values central to the romance narrative that Pamela Regis noted in A Natural History of the Romance Novel. As such, I argue that these novels are not as subversive as we might hope for.
Queer Evolution: A Biocultural Investigation of Gay Romance Fiction
Nicholas B. Clark, Bowling Green State University
Literary Darwinism and biocultural theories of literature have seemingly ignored queer identities in their studies of literature, film, and popular culture. This study attempts to begin the integration of biocultural theories and queer theories by analyzing a collection of stories from Japanese BL (boys love), bara manga, and Western romance novels. These three unique genres are selected to give attention to narratives written by both straight and gay writers. The implications of generic format and the identities of the writers will be discussed as well. By comparing and contrasting these genres, this study seeks to establish the biocultural implications homosexual identities function within these texts. Specific attention will be paid to homosexual courtship and evolutionary theories of homosexuality, and how these texts conform to or deny specific theories. In addition to the traditional biocultural theories, attention will be given to the specific Japanese understandings of homosexuality and same-sex relationships and the country’s history of homosexuality and homosexual identities. In doing so, this study hopes to begin understanding queer identities within a Literary Darwinist framework, for just as fiction has be used to explore philosophy, so to can fiction be used to explore evolutionary psychology.

Revenge of the Romance: How romance novels transform the nerd stereotype
Robin Hershkowitz, Bowling Green State University
The character of the ‘nerd’ has been prevalent in popular culture, usually represented as a man whose intelligence and lack of social skills keep him from achieving his ultimate desire: obtaining an attractive girlfriend. Since the early 21st century, the concept of the nerd has expanded to discussions of toxic masculinity and entitlement, often seen in such arenas as the culture of the tech industry and the Gamer Gate phenomenon. My paper addresses the central question of how the modern romance genre includes these character archetypes and incorporates them into the romance genre. Specifically, in my paper, I will use the scholarship of Carol Thurston, Jennifer Crusie-Smith, Lynn Coddington, and representations of masculinity to analyze the nerd character in the contemporary romance novels Romancing the Nerd by Leah Rae Miller (2016) and Nerd in Shining Armor by Vicki Lewis Thompson (2003). I will use these case studies to illustrate how a feminist reading of romance novels interprets and redefines the highly gendered concept of the nerd, how the genre provides a space for character transformation, how these texts redefine the concept of the ‘nerd’ in terms of the self, and to examine how the nerd character is a product of gender performance.
The conference continues on Saturday!