Sunday, July 07, 2024

New Publications, including a lot of theses

Barta, Orsolya (2024). Surprise Babies, Bad Mothers & Happily Ever Afters: Pregnancy Narratives and the Concept of Motherhood In Eight Contemporary Romance Novels. Masters thesis, University of Uppsala. [This was not available online when I checked, but the abstract can be found here.]

Crawford, Joseph (2024). "From Romantic Gothic to Gothic Romance, With a Little Help from Twilight." Journal of Popular Romance Studies 13.

Cuthbert Van Der Veer, Kate (2023). Cover story: developing methodologies for the analysis of book titles and book covers. PhD Thesis, School of Communication and Arts, The University of Queensland. [About half of the corpus here are Australian rural romance novels, so there's a lot of discussion of romance.]

Edmunds, Amy (2024). Revamping The Gaze: How Twilight Hosts the Conditions for Female Spectatorship. Honors Thesis, University of Michigan.

Hashim, Ruzy Suliza and Mohd Muzhafar Idrus (2024). “Unblessed Be Thy Milk: Filial Obedience, Repentance, and Forgiveness in Malay Popular Fiction”. The Asian Family in Literature and Film: Challenges and Contestations-South Asia, Southeast Asia and Asian Diaspora, Volume II. Ed. Bernard Wilson and Sharifah Aishah Osman. Palgrave Macmillan, Singapore. 139-160. [Abstract here.]
Pesonen, Sini (2024). Romance Novels and Possibilities in Life : Analyzing Ethical Aspects in Happiness and Happy Place. Masters thesis, University of Helsinki. 
Ramstad, Tessa (2024). Tall, Dark, and Ideal: #Bookboyfriends in six contemporary romance novels. Masters thesis, University of Uppsala.

Wiseman, Sarah Rose (2024). Hearts and Hashtags: How BookTok is Reshaping Romance Literature. Honors Program in English and Media Studies, Guilford College.

Thursday, June 13, 2024

New book on historical romance and other new articles

Conflict and Colonialism in 21st Century Romantic Historical Fiction: Repairing the Past, Repurposing History, edited by Hsu-Ming Teo and Paloma Fresno-Calleja is out today (13 June) from Routledge. The introduction, "Conflict and Colonialism in 21st Century Romantic Historical Fiction: Repairing the Past, Repurposing History" is open access and can be downloaded from here.

The other essays about romance in the collection are:

The Australian Convict Prostitute Romance: Narrating Social and Sexual Justice for “Damned Whores” - Hsu-Ming Teo

Love in Victorian London: Immigrant Histories and Intersecting Diversities in K. J. Charles’s Sins of the Cities - Jayashree Kamblé 

Language, Sexuality and “Necessary” Anachronism in Lorraine Heath’s Neo-Victorian Popular Romance Series Scandalous Gentlemen of St. James - Carmen Pérez Ríu

Suffragette Historical Romances: Re-Purposing Women’s Suffrage in a Postfeminist Context - Mariana Ripoll-Fonollar

The US Civil War and its Aftermath in Historical Quaker Romances Hailing White Heroines as Builders and Healers of the Nation - Carolina Fernández Rodríguez 

Historical Reparation, Emotional Justice: The Navajo Long Walk in Evangeline Parsons Yazzie’s Her Land, Her Love - Silvia Martínez-Falquina

When a Jew Loves a Nazi: Problems with Repurposing the Holocaust for Reparative Romance - Hsu-Ming Teo

Abstracts for all of those can be found here.


Other recent publications are:

Austin, Allan W. (2024) "Courting Tragedy: Romance and the Liberal Redemption of Japanese American Mass Incarceration". Journal of Popular Romance Studies 13. [Of the two novels discussed, only one is a romance, by Danielle Steel.]

Lukas, Iwan, Muarifuddin, and Rahmawati Azi (2024). "Formula Romance dalam Roman Mes Amis Mes Amours Karya Marc Lévy." LE PARIS: Journal de Langue, Litterature, et Culture 5.1:15-3. [There's an abstract in English but the article itself is written in what I assume is Indonesian.]
Rimmer, Abi (2024). "Can I have a side hustle as a doctor?" BMJ 385. [Short article which includes quotes from Fearne Hill. Abstract here.]

Sanders, Lise Shapiro (2024). "Girls Growing Up: Reading ‘Erotic Bloods’ in Interwar Britain". The Edinburgh History of Children's Periodicals, edited by Kristine Moruzi, Beth Rodgers and Michelle Smith. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press: 93-111.

Tuesday, June 04, 2024

Call for Papers: Bridgerton and Philosophy


Call for Abstracts 

Bridgerton and Philosophy 

Edited by Jessica Miller

The Blackwell Philosophy and Pop Culture Series

Contributors of accepted essays will receive an honorarium. Abstracts and subsequent essays should be philosophically substantial but accessible, written to engage the intelligent lay reader. 

Essays may focus on the Netflix series (including Queen Charlotte), the books, or both.

Submission Guidelines:

  1. Submission deadline for abstracts (350-500 words) and CVs: August 30, 2024
  2. Submission deadline for drafts of accepted papers: January 27, 2025

Kindly submit by e-mail to Jessica Miller:

The final papers should be about 3000 words including notes. More details about possible themes/topics can be found here.

Sunday, June 02, 2024

New Publications: A History of the RWA; Fat in Contemporary Romance; Romance and Philosophy

In a rather weird coincidence, just days after the Romance Writers of America filed for bankruptcy (which, as explained elsewhere, does not mean it's going to cease to exist, because 

the RWA expects a “swift resolution” to its bankruptcy restructuring, which “will not impact its day-to-day operations” of providing training and other resources to its members. The group “is not going out of business, as some others have made it sound,” (Beckett, The Guardian)

Christine A Larson's Love in the Time of Self-Publishing: How Romance Writers Changed the Rules of Writing and Success is coming out with Princeton University Press. It could be considered a history of the RWA and romance publishing, though Larson emphasises the book's wider appeal to those interested in the topic of

self-organization and mutual aid in the digital economy. In Love in the Time of Self-Publishing, Christine Larson traces the forty-year history of Romancelandia, a sprawling network of romance authors, readers, editors, and others, who formed a unique community based on openness and collective support. Empowered by solidarity, American romance writers—once disparaged literary outcasts—became digital publishing’s most innovative and successful authors. Meanwhile, a new surge of social media activism called attention to Romancelandia’s historic exclusion of romance authors of color and LGBTQ+ writers, forcing a long-overdue cultural reckoning.

Drawing on the largest-known survey of any literary genre as well as interviews and archival research, Larson shows how romance writers became the only authors in America to make money from the rise of ebooks—increasing their median income by 73 percent while other authors’ plunged by 40 percent. The success of romance writers, Larson argues, demonstrates the power of alternative forms of organizing influenced by gendered working patterns. It also shows how networks of relationships can amplify—or mute—certain voices.

I've got excerpts and links in the Romance Scholarship Database entry.
Some other new publications are:
Cole, Lauryn (2023) Fat and Fabulous: The Power of Contemporary Romance as a Site of Anti-Oppression Work. Bachelor of Arts dissertation, University of Oregon. [This focuses on Bet Me by Jennifer Crusie and Take a Hint, Dani Brown by Talia Hibbert.]
Lancaster, Guy (2024) "'God loves you nearly as much as I do': Toward a Poetics of Natality in Maureen Bronson's Delta Pearl, a 1989 Harlequin Historical Romance.' Arkansas Review: A Journal of Delta Studies 55.1:27–39. [Abstract here.]

Wednesday, May 29, 2024

RWA: New Award, New Bankruptcy Filing

I haven't been following the Romance Writers of America's activities closely since the 2019 implosion (documented in detail on this blog, under the tag RWA, but also summarised more briefly here and here) and a brief return with the 2021 awards fiasco (again, documented on this blog, but also summarised more briefly here). However, today there were a couple of items of news concerning the RWA.

The first involved a change to their main award. An Internet Archive capture of 25 February outlines a

a significant development regarding THE VIVIAN® Award. With the encouragement of the award’s namesake, Vivian Stephens, the RWA Board of Directors has approved a new name for the published author’s contest – the Diamond Heart Award. The Board is excited about the positive impact this change will have as we continue to celebrate the extraordinary richness and variety of our genre. This decision reflects RWA’s dedication to fostering an environment that embraces the diverse voices and experiences within our romance writing family.

While this award undergoes a transformation, Vivian Stephens' name will remain closely tied to our community. Her legacy will continue to be honored through the dedicated RWA industry service award, recognizing her enduring contributions to our shared journey.

That page has been updated since then (and I've saved it the way it looks today here). The judges should have completed their training and "Wednesday, June 5, 2024 - The contest opens at 11 a.m."

However, it seems that today (29 May 2024) the RWA filed for bankruptcy. I haven't seen the details but Courtney Milan posted the following screenshot:

[Subsequently, predominantly due to disputes concerning diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) issues between some members of a prior RWA board and others in the larger romance writing community, membership decreased to approximately 3,000. Due to COVID concerns, the Debtor held its annual conference virtually in 2020 and 2021, and subsequently its membership reduced further. RWA was able to postpone its obligations to the respective Conference Centers these two years by agreeing to add two future years to the applicable Conference Centre Contract to 2028.]

Which, as has been pointed out, rather skates over the details of how and why Courtney Milan was treated very badly by the organisation.

If anyone has more in-depth knowledge of the situation, please do leave a comment!

[Edited to add:

Here's an article about the situation in Bloomberg Law.

Here's a post from Smart Bitches, Trashy Books which explains in rage and detail why the RWA's wording of their excuse is symptomatic of the very reasons the RWA is in this position.

And a similarly righteously angry, and also very detailed, post, at Her Hands My Hands.

The Guardian takes a closer look at the consequences of bankruptcy and pointedly concludes that

As the RWA has struggled, other romance organizations that explicitly prioritize diversity have grown. The Steamy Lit conference, first held in 2023, focuses on creating a welcoming environment for romance readers and writers of color, founder Melissa Saavedra said. An estimated 1,900 people are expected to attend its August conference this year.

The Guardian article states that "Reuters contributed reporting" which presumably refers to this article by Reuters, which begins with some cliches about the genre.]

Friday, May 24, 2024

CFP (on Sarah J. Maas), and lots of new publications (emotions, vasectomies, comics, deposit libraries, aro-ace romance, dance history)

The Journal of Popular Romance Studies has put out a call for papers for a

Special Issue: Sarah J. Maas

Millions of adolescent and adult readers alike have been drawn to Sarah J. Maas’s YA fantasy-romance series for their representations of empowered, embattled young women, their immersive fantasy worlds, and especially their romance narratives. From the Throne of Glass  (2012-18) and A Court of Thorns and Roses (2015-21) books to Crescent City (2020-24), her current series-in-progress, Maas has become wildly popular for the complex romantic and sexual relationships she portrays. The Journal of Popular Romance Studies (JPRS) seeks articles for a special issue focused on Maas’s fiction. These articles may focus on any of Maas’s works and may take a variety of disciplinary approaches.

Topics may include but are not limited to:

  • Intersections of romance and politics, including connections between sexual agency and political agency in Maas’s fiction
  • How Maas’s work engages with feminism and/or postfeminism
  • Portrayals of or discourses on assault, trauma, and/or PTSD in Maas’s fiction and romance as trauma narrative
  • Maas’s adaptation of fairy tales in her romance narratives
  • Representations of sex and sexuality in Maas’s work
  • Portrayals of gender in Maas’s work
  • Maas’s engagement with traditional romance-genre tropes
  • Renderings of adolescence and adult-youth power dynamics in romantic pairings and other relationships in Maas’s fiction
  • Maas’s portrayal of LGBTQ+ or queer romantic relationships
  • Class structures/dynamics and how they shape romance in Maas’s work

More details about this can be found here.


Eirini Arvanitaki's Emotionality: Heterosexual Love and Emotional Development in Popular Romance was published by Routledge in May 2024. It

focuses on the projections of romantic love and its progression in a selection of popular romance novels and identifies an innovation within the genre’s formula and structure. Taking into account Giddens’s notion of ‘confluent’ love, this book argues that two forms of love exist within these texts: romantic and confluent love. The analysis of these love variants suggests that a continuum emerges which signifies the complexity but also the formation and progressive nature of the protagonists’ love relationships. This continuum is divided into three stages: the pre-personal, semi-personal and personal. The first phase connotes the introduction of the protagonists and describes the sexual attraction they experience for each other. The second phase refers to the initiation of the sexual interaction of the heroine and hero without any emotional involvement. The third and final phase begins when emotions such as jealousy, shame/guilt, anger, and self-sacrifice are awakened and acknowledged.

Cho, H., Adkins, D., da Silva Santos, D., Long, A.K. (2024). "Platform, Visuals, and Sound: Webtoon’s Immersive Romance Reading Engagement." In: Sserwanga, I., et al. Wisdom, Well-Being, Win-Win. iConference 2024. Lecture Notes in Computer Science, vol 14597. Springer, Cham. [More details here.]

Deane, Katie (2024). Romance Self-Publishing and UK Legal Deposit. British Library Research Repository.

Lienhard, Alissa (2024). "“I’ll Call it Platonic Magic”: Queer Joy, Metafiction, and Aro-Ace Autofictional Selves in Alice Oseman’s Loveless." In Progress: A Graduate Journal of North American Studies 2.1:59-72.


And finally, although this is not a publication about romance, Sonia Gollance, advertising her new book  It Could Lead to Dancing: Mixed-Sex Dancing and Jewish Modernity, has written a post about some of what you could expect to find if there were more historical romances written about Jewish protagonists.


Friday, May 10, 2024

New Publications: Genre Norms, Publishing and Creators

Green, Steff (2024). "More schlongs, more cats." Otherhood: Essays on being childless, childfree and child-adjacent. Ed. Kathryn Van Beek, Alie Benge, Lil O'Brien. Aukland: Massey University Press. [On the near-ubiquity of babies in the HEA. Excerpt here.]
Griffiths, David (2023). Hearing Ghosts: Writing a Low Fantasy YA Gothic Fiction for young adult males. PhD in Creative Writing, Manchester Metropolitan University.

Parisot, Eric (2024). Jane Austen and Vampires: Love, Sex and Immortality in the New Millennium. Cham, Switzerland: Palgrave Macmillan. [More details here, and excerpt here.]

Pierre-Robertson, Petronetta (2023). "Librarian as Creator." Caribbean Library Journal 7:1-16.

Sabo, Oana (2024). “Translingualism 2.0.” Contemporary French and Francophone Studies 28.2: 302-316. [Links, and selected quotes from the section on romance, here.]


Sunday, March 24, 2024

New Publications: Minotaurs and Pornography; HFNs and HEAs without marriage; Bridgerton

There are two new articles out from the Journal of Popular Romance Studies and since one of them is by me, I'm going to show immense bias and make this a very short list instead of waiting for more new publications, and I'm also going to list my article first.

Vivanco, Laura (2024). “Feeling Judged: Reflections on Pornography and Romance from a Minotaur Milking Farm.” Journal of Popular Romance Studies 13.

I don't have any other scholarship in progress, which is a somewhat strange feeling. I'm still updating the Romance Scholarship Database, though, and every so often I come across items from previous years which I've missed. If you know of something that isn't in the database and which should be, please do let me know!

Kies, Bridget (2024). “Saying ‘I Don’t’: Queer Romance in the Post–Marriage Equality World.” Journal of Popular Romance Studies 13.

Reese, Tracy H.Z. (2024). "Beyond the Pale: Genre, Race, and Intersectional Feminist Tensions in Bridgerton." Adapting Bridgerton: Essays on the Netflix Show in Context. Edited by Valerie Estelle Frankel. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland. 9-21. [See via Google Books here.]


Wednesday, March 13, 2024

A new book (on Ethel M. Dell) and other new publications

Riding The Tosh Horse: Ethel M. Dell, A Written Life by David Tanner, published by Brown Dog Books:

The largely forgotten romantic novelist Ethel M. Dell (1881-1939) published alongside Rudyard Kipling and other literary giants but was vilified by George Orwell and P.G. Wodehouse among many. Ethel was a recluse, and actively avoided marketing herself as a personality in any way, but her formula was successful. She reached a very large audience publishing 98 titles and earning, at the height of her career, about £4M annually in today’s values. Her plots included a popular and heady mix of heterosexual, implicit same-sex relationships, sexual deviances, gratuitous violence, death and exoticised notions of Empire and masculinity. The veneer of Ethel’s plots was used to communicate her philosophies, her views on life and on her family.

Although being publishing alongside literary giants she did not receive establishment acceptance because of her style and no doubt envy of her substantial earnings. With an escapist and non-literary appeal to a lower middle class reader universe Ethel used a very successful multi-media marketing strategy with magazine serialisation, hard copy books, film, theatre and radio to reach this audience in the UK, the United States, Europe and the British colonies.

A forerunner to Mills and Boon’s success Ethel was very influential in setting the scene for mass market romantic fiction. Barbara Cartland stated that Ethel was her greatest influence.

Befeler, Paige (2022), LGBTQ(NA), Queer New Adult Fiction: The Emergence of a New Genre and Its Impact on the LGBTQIA+ Community. Thesis for Honors in Comparative Literary Studies, Wellesley College.
Kluger, Johanna (2024). "'On Thursdays We Shoot': Guns and Gender Binaries in Regency Romance Novels". Ladies in Arms: Women, Guns, and Feminisms in Contemporary Popular Culture. Ed. Teresa Hiergeist and Stefanie Schäfer, transcript verlag. 163-179. [The whole volume is available for free at the link given.]
Kluger, Johanna (2024). "Post-Trump masculinity in popular romance novels." Neohelicon. Online First. Open access.
Parnell, Claire (2023). "Algospeak and algo-design in platformed book publishing: Revolutionary creative tactics in digital paratext to circumvent content moderation." Paper presented at AoIR2023: The 24th Annual Conference of the Association of Internet Researchers. Philadelphia, PA, USA: AoIR

Ripoll Fonollar, Mariana (2023). Wording deeds: the figure of the suffragette in contemporary british fiction, Universitat de les Illes Balears. [This is a thesis which is not freely available. The abstract can be found here.]

Tuesday, February 13, 2024

Past Conference Videos, Current Exhibition Feedback and New Publications

Videos are now freely available of some of the events from last year's Popular Romance Fiction: The Literature of Hope conference, held at Yale University.


Andrea Martucci's Shelf Love podcast episode about this exhibition of John Ennis's art for romance covers is available here:

Smart Bitch Sarah's feedback (including lots of photos) on the exhibition can be found here:


And here are the new publications:

Burge, Amy, Jodi McAlister and Charlotte Ireland (2024). '“Prince Charming with an Erection”: The Sensational Pleasures of the Bonkbuster.' Contemporary Women's Writing [This shows how bonkbusters are not romance.]

Johnson, Jacqueline E. (2024) "Lusting out loud: racialized aurality, podcast intimacy, and the uses of thirst". Communication, Culture and Critique. Online First. [Excerpt and details here. As I mentioned over on BlueSky, the focus on "the expansive middle" reminded me of Athena Bellas and Jodi McAlister 's (non-paywalled) recent article on audio erotica. So I wondered if such a focus might have something to do with an audio experience? And/or a difference between what readers/listeners seek from erotica vs. romance fiction? Jodi suggested it could be to do with the length of time available and that the episodes could be thought of as 'a little slice of life from what An Goris calls the "post-HEA"'.]
Markova, M. V. (2024). "Georgette Heyer, history, and historical fiction." Voprosy literatury 1:198-203. [This is written in Russian, and in any case I could not access the pdf from]

Morden, Christina (2023). Innovations in Romance Novel Distribution at Harlequin, Sourcebooks, and Raincoast Books. Master of Publishing, Simon Fraser University. 
Pates, Giuliana (2023). "Reading Practices and Gender Politicization: How do Young Argentinean Women Read Romantic Novels." Revista Interdisciplinaria de Estudios de Género de El Colegio de México 9.1:1–26. [This is in Spanish.]

Spencer, L. (2024). '“Walk like a chameleon”: Reflecting on my teaching journey at a South African university'. Educare, (1), 192–215. [Dr Lynda Gichanda Spencer, Associate Professor and Chair of the Department of Literary Studies in English at Rhodes University, discussed her teaching of African romance fiction as part of a panel at the IASPR 2020 conference. There are a couple of paragraphs about her 2019 third-year elective course titled Global Chick-Lit or Trans-Global Literature? Re-reading Contemporary Women’s Fiction in this online paper, discussing how she asked students to compare Harlequin Mills & Boon romances with romances by African publishers.]

Monday, February 05, 2024

The Romance Wikithon: Valentine's Day Edition

IASPR is holding a Valentine's Day (well, Wednesday 14 February for some time zones) Romance Wikithon, with training from Amy Burge! It's not just for romance scholars: readers have lots of expertise to share too! Here's the description that was shared with those of us on the IASPR Discord group:

Join us, this Valentines Day, to share our expertise as romance scholars [and readers] and increase the representation of romance on Wikipedia! Open to all. 

This 90-minute session will be practical and informal. It is aimed at those who have never edited Wikipedia before. Training and guidance will be given. Recommended for those who might be interested in using Wikipedia as part of teaching, for those who are interested in learning more about how to edit Wikipedia, and for anyone who would like to make positive change in the world! The session will be facilitated by Dr Amy Burge, who has run editathons at the University of Cardiff, and has used Wikipedia for assessment with students.

Here's the signup page.

The timezone information in the graphic says:

Wednesday 14th February        London         20:00-21:30
                                                  Chicago        14:00-15.30
Thursday 15th February           Melbourne    07:00-08:30 

[Edited to add: Here are the details on the IASPR website, which I've only just seen.]

Monday, January 22, 2024

Bad Romance Data, Monsters and New Publications

The data does NOT exist to support the statement that romance is a billion dollar industry. Quite frankly, the data does not exist to make any sweeping statements about the size of the popular romance genre market.

So says Andrea Martucci of the Shelf Love podcast, who's been taking a hard look at the "popular romance genre market data between 1972 and today" and presented her "research on 'Bad Romance Data' at the 2023 International Association for the Study of Popular Romance conference." You can read her analysis and conclusions here (and it's archived here).


Also via Andrea (but this time not by her), comes a call for participants:

Whether you're solely into humans or a monster romance enthusiast, I'd love for you to take part in my survey. I'm a graduate student doing my thesis on whether or not monster attraction could be explained through evolutionary anthropology.

The survey will be available from January 9, 2024, to March 12, 20204, and it will take about 20 to 30 minutes to complete (although some people have finished it in as little as 12 minutes). It's completely anonymous and only requires that you be at least 18 years old to participate.

Andrea spotted it on Reddit but there's also a more formal announcement giving details of the research on the Research Study Consent Form to be found at the website of California State University, Fullerton.

The research is being "carried out by Phoebe Santillan, under the guidance of Dr. Elizabeth Pillsworth" and

The purpose of this research study is to gather information on people who are attracted to fictional monsters. You are being asked to participate in this study because any and all data is valuable at this stage within the research process. Attraction to fictional monsters is not required to participate in this study.

And here's a short list of new publications:

Allen, Amanda K. (2024) "Ruling the Court: Reflections on Midcentury Junior Novel Romances." Journal of Popular Romance Studies 13.

Robinson, Rachel (2023). Reading and writing dogs in popular romance fiction, PhD, University of Tasmania. [Only the abstract is currently available.]
Warnaar, Karin (2023). "Dresses and Drapery: The Material Essie Summers." Scope: Contemporary Research Topics art & design 25:91-96. [Full pdf available for download at the link provided and, as a bonus, here's a link to a 2018 Otago Daily Times article about Essie Summers' life and work which Warnaar cites.]

Ya’u, Mohammed Sani, Sabariah Md Rashid, Afida Mohamad Ali and Hardev Kaur Jujar Singh (2023). "Semantic Extensions of Hausa Visual and Auditory Perception Verbs gani and ji in Romance Fiction." Pertanika Journal of Social Science and Humanities 31.4:1441-1464.