Tuesday, July 06, 2021

New Publications: Medical Romance, Romance in the Caribbean, Iran, Philippines, Quebec, Sweden and more

Arnold-Forster, Agnes (2021). “Racing Pulses: Gender, Professionalism and Health Care in Medical Romance Fiction.” History Workshop Journal. [Open Access]

Abrahamsson, Elin (2021). “Superwomen, Latte Dads and Feminist Alphas: Negotiations on Feminism in Contemporary Swedish Popular Romance Novels.” Journal of Popular Romance Studies 10.

Boivin, Karol'Ann and Marie-Pier Luneau (2021). "Qu’ont en commun Mimi Estival, Roxanne d’Avril et Georgette Mars? Auctorialité et roman sentimental québécois de l’après guerre (1944-1965)." Authorship 10.1

Egilsdatter Sleire, Maria (2021). “Only I shall taste your body’s joys:” The Erotic Function of Female Corporeality in The Flame and the Flower and Fifty Shades of Grey. Master's Thesis, University of Bergen.

Hughes, Bill (2021). "Genre Mutation in Young Adult Gothic: The Dialectics of Dystopia and Romance in Holly Black's The Coldest Girl in Coldtown." Young Adult Gothic Fiction: Monstrous Selves/Monstrous Others. Ed. Michelle J. Smith and Kristine Moruzi. Cardiff: University of Wales Press. [More details here.]

Naeej, Elham (2021). "Parting the Curtain: The Virgin Heroine and the ‘Westoxified’ Villain in Contemporary Iranian Romance Novels." Journal of Popular Romance Studies 10.

Nickel, Eleanor Hersey (2020). Christian Popular Culture from The Chronicles of Narnia to Duck Dynasty. Eugene, Oregon: Wipf and Stock Publishers. [There is a chapter about Francine Rivers's Redeeming Love. Excerpt available here.] 

Parnell, Claire, Andrea Anne Trinidad & Jodi McAlister (2021). "Live literature in the Philippines: an ethnographic study of #RomanceClass and reading as performance." Creative Industries Journal. Online First. [Abstract]

Parnell, Claire, Andrea Anne Trinidad & Jodi McAlister (2021). "Hello, Ever After: #RomanceClass and Online-Only Live Literature in the Philippines in 2020." M/C Journal, 24 (3).

Pierre-Robertson, Petronetta (2021). "Literature as an Agent of Change." Gender and Domestic Violence in the Caribbean. Ed. Ann Marie Bissessar and Camille Huggins. Palgrave Macmillan, Cham. 87-103. [More details here and here.]

Warren, Jean-Philippe and Marie-Pier Luneau (2021). "The Best Romance Dime Novels on the (French-Canadian) Market: The Promotional Strategies of Police-Journal, 1944-1963." Journal of Popular Romance Studies 10.

Thursday, July 01, 2021

Call for Papers: JPRS special issue on Romancing Africa

Here's the Call for Papers:

Romancing Africa: Manifestations of Popular Romance in Africa

Editors: Lynda Gichanda Spencer and Martina Vitackova

In February 2016, the New York Times published “A Valentine’s Day Reading List” that did not include any character, love story or book from Africa. In response, Grace A. Musila took to social media where she started #LoveinLiteraryAfrica, ‘a protest against this oh-so-familiar tradition’. Musila’s tweet received a remarkable response from the “African literati” who immediately began to share their favourite love stories from Africa. Five years later, in February 2021, Kiru Taye, one of the founding editors of Romance Writers of West Africa, was named as one of USA Today’s Bestselling Authors: a clear demonstration that there are African authors writing within the romance genre, and a sign that it is time—indeed, past time—for scholarship on popular romance fiction to address the thriving worlds of popular romance in Africa.

Romance imprints abound on the continent, including Sapphire Books, Nollybooks, the imprints of NB Publishers and Romanza from South Africa, Drumbeats from Kenya, Adoras from Cote d’Ivoire, Littattafan Soyayya, Ankara Press, Ebonystory and Love Africa Press from Nigeria. Scholarship on African romance remains marginal, in relation to studies of western romance, but this scholarship does exist, including a foundational essay by Lydie Moudileno on “The troubling popularity of West African romance novels” in Research in African Literatures (2008), a special issue of the South African feminist journal Agenda on “Gender and Popular Imaginaries in Africa” (October 2018), a special issue of Feminist Theory on ‘Chick-Lit in a Time of African Cosmopolitanism’ (April 2019), and a forthcoming special issue on popular romance written in Afrikaans for the digital journal Stilet. This special issue of the Journal of Popular Romance Studies therefore aims both to bring together scholars doing research on popular romance in Africa and to introduce existing research on the genre at the African continent to popular romance academia.

If, as Moudileno argues, the local creativity involved in “Africanizing the romance” allows romance readers and writers to manipulate structures and produce new meanings that are linked to the experience of the postcolony, thus opening up ‘the potentialities of an overtly marginal literary genre’ (2008:128), our hope for this issue is to Africanize popular romance scholarship. We are therefore interested in essays about all aspects of popular romance writing in Africa: its writers, readers, publishing houses, and scholars. We want to map the dynamics of popular romance genre in Africa and investigate these in their specificity and/or comparability with popular romance from other geopolitical areas. We seek to explore how popular romance shapes Africa, and how Africa shapes popular romance. What does the production and consumption of popular romance reveal about contemporary Africa?

We are open to submissions from a wide range of disciplinary and interdisciplinary contexts, including but not limited to: cultural studies, literary studies, gender studies, publishing studies, history, sociology, philosophy, psychology, anthropology, political science, law, and music. Since this is an electronic publication, we also welcome multimedia and artwork contributions documenting the world of popular romance in, on, and about the African continent. We welcome articles discussing works by authors on the African continent as well as African authors in the diaspora. We seek submissions on (but not limited to) the following topics:

  • Popular romance publishing industries on the African continent
  • Self-publishing and other alternative forms of text circulation in Africa or by African authors
  • Interrogating femininity, masculinity, sexuality, race, gender, ethnicity and religion
  • The pleasures of erotic desire
  • Subversion, alternatives and alterations to the (Western) romance formula
  • Social engagement and social critique in African popular romance
  • Interviews with romance authors from Africa
  • Analysing the culture of reading clubs and reading groups in Africa


The editors have set a deadline for expressions of interest of 30 September 2021. More details can be found at the IASPR/JPRS website.

The items tagged "Africa" in the Romance Scholarship Database can be viewed here.

Thursday, June 10, 2021

Romances as Rare Books

Romney, Rebecca's The Romance Novel in English: A Survey in Rare Books, 1769-1999 is now available both in a limited edition signed hardcover of 500 copies (TypePunch Matrix) and as a free downloadable pdf.

I was lucky to have a preview of this before it went online. The survey is a sales catalogue: the hope is that a university library will purchase all the lots and thus instantly acquire a significant romance collection. If Romney's hopes are realised, this will obviously be a signal that romance is being increasingly recognised within academia. Even if it is not, however, the publication of this catalogue is an important indication of the (literal as well as literary and cultural) value inherent in these novels.

It's also an interesting and quick overview of the development of the genre and its many subgenres.

Wednesday, June 09, 2021

Stereotypes of Romance Readers and their Effects

This "presentation is about how romance novels and readers are perceived, not reality." Andrea Martucci used the fact that the Bridgerton screen adaptation of a Julia Quinn novel introduced many people to romance, to discover more about attitudes towards romance novels, romance readers, and what happens when someone with a negative perception of both discovers that they actually like reading romances!

Andrea Martucci gave this presentation at the PCA/ACA conference this year with the title "Romance Reader Stereotypes: Will Bridgerton Change Popular Perceptions About Romance Novels?" She writes that this 

video version of my Pop Culture Association presentation, recently presented at #PCARomance [...] is just one tiny slice of the research I did. I'll be touching on other aspects of the research in future episodes of the podcast. (Twitter)

Her Shelf Love podcast can be found here.


Saturday, June 05, 2021

IASPR Newsletter

If you'd like to receive

news on conferences, grants and fellowships, recent and forthcoming publications, as well as other items relevant to our members and the community of scholars, writers, and readers interested in the interdisciplinary study of popular romance.

IASPR's new, quarterly newletter aims to provide that.

Sign up here: https://mailchi.mp/35071647726d/newsletter-sign-up

Friday, May 28, 2021

Free romance lectures

Starting in September Ali Williams will be running "A monthly online romance lecture and Q&A series for the romance reader, writer and academic" and has asked me to publicise to "independent scholars or postgrad students who might not have the funds for this otherwise" that she has "a large number of paid for slots available. Please do reach out; the whole process will remain confidential."

Details can be found here.

Dr. Angela Toscano has also been offering classes on romance, and videos of some of them are available for free here

Tuesday, May 11, 2021

New Publications: on paranormal, historical, Muslim, erotic, teenage and Kindle romances, among other things

Burke, Nicola, 2020. Mills and Fur: Feminism and Femininity in the Supernatural Romance. PhD, Western Sydney University. [Available for download.]

González-Cruz, María-Isabel, 2021. "On the Discoursive Construction of the Spanish Hero in Intercultural Romances." International Handbook of Love: Transcultural and Transdisciplinary Perspectives, Ed. Claude-Hélène Mayer and Elisabeth Vanderheiden. Cham: Springer. 749-767. [Abstract here.]

Hackett, Lisa J. and Jo Coghlan, Jo, 2021. "The History Bubble: Negotiating Authenticity in Historical Romance Novels." M/C Journal 24.1.[Open access online.]

Izharuddin, Alicia, 2021. "'Redha tu Ikhlas': The Social–Textual Significance of Islamic Virtue in Malay Forced Marriage Narratives Religions 12.5 (310). [Available for download.]

Kraxenberger, Maria, Christine A. Knoop and Winfried Menninghaus, Winfried, 2021. "Who reads contemporary erotic novels and why?" Humanities and Social Sciences Communications 8. [Available for download.] 

Kuchta, Estella Carolye, 2021. "Imagining Love: Teen Romance Novels and American Teen Relational Capacity." International Handbook of Love: Transcultural and Transdisciplinary Perspectives, Ed. Claude-Hélène Mayer and Elisabeth Vanderheiden. Cham: Springer. 827-842. [Abstract here.]

McGurl, Mark, 2021. "Unspeakable Conventionality: The Perversity of the Kindle." American Literary History. Online First. [Abstract]

Romantic Escapes: Post-Millennial Trends in Contemporary Popular Romance Fiction
. Ed. Irene Pérez Fernández and Carmen Pérez Ríu, Carmen. Bern: Peter Lang, 2021. [This is a book which includes a number of essays on romance. The link provided is to the entry in the Romance Scholarship Database, which includes a list of the contents.]

Rader, Kara, Shelly R. Hovick & Elisabeth Bigsby, 2021. "'Are You Clean?' Encouraging STI Communication in Casual Encounters through Narrative Messages in Romance Novels." Communication Studies. Online First. [Abstract]

Wednesday, April 28, 2021

Congratulations to Jayashree Kamblé for Award to Work on BIPOC Authors and Editors

It's just been announced that Jayashree Kamblé has been awarded one of the Mellon/ACLS Community College Faculty Fellowships for 2021 for this exciting project:

BIPOC Writers, Editors, and Novels: The Missing Chapters in the Story of Mass-Market Romance

The contributions of BIPOC authors and editors of mass-market romance have often existed on the fringes of the genre’s scholarship. This project centers these sidelined histories through archival research on interviews, reviews, and industry newsletters, as well as close readings of romance novels starring BIPOC, and authored and edited by BIPOC. The project identifies BIPOC progenitors of romance novels in the United States in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries through two foci: African American editor Vivian Stephens, who sought out and nurtured Black romance, and publishers who either marginalized non-white romance writing or made it visible. Retrieving these biographies and novels fleshes out the history on BIPOC romance and disrupts this popular form’s seeming whiteness. As the genre now confronts its lack of diversity and role in normalizing bigotry, documenting BIPOC romance history shows how the industry contributed to our contemporary reactionary zeitgeist but also how it can combat it.

Jayashree is one of only "28 scholars [who] will each receive up to $40,000 to advance their respective projects, which significantly expand humanistic study and knowledge" (ACLS).

Congratulations, Jayashree!

Thursday, April 15, 2021

Congratulations to a new Doctor of Romance: Vassilikí Véros!

As she announced here, Vassilikí Véros now has

a PhD! With typical Covid fanfare, my conferral was emailed to me today. As I don’t own a floppy graduation hat, I donned my fave tiara (yes I own more than 1), my fave conference dress and took some pics with my fave romance fiction book

Since one advantage of this is that we can all join this virtual "graduation ceremony" I thought I'd post her photo here.

The PhD is titled "What the Librarians Did: The Marginalisation of Romance Fiction Through the Practices of Public Librarianship" and it's in Information and Knowledge Management/Digital Information Management, from the University of Technology, Sydney.

Since it's not currently available online, here's a list of Vassilikí's existing publications about romance, most of which are free to access:

Veros, Vassiliki (2012) "The Romance Reader and the Public Library." Australian Library Journal 61.4:298-306 [Free Access]
Veros, Vassiliki (2015) "A Matter of Meta: Category Romance Fiction and the Interplay of Paratext and Library Metadata." Journal of Popular Romance Studies 5.1 [Free Access]
Veros, Vassiliki (2017) "Keepers: Marking the Value of the Books on my Shelves." Proceedings from the Document Academy 4.1 [Free Access]

Veros, Vassiliki (2019) "Metatextual Conversations: The Exclusion/Inclusion of Genre Fiction in Public Libraries and Social Media Book Groups." Journal of the Australian Library and Information Association 68.3:254-267 [Abstract]

Veros, Vassiliki (2020) "The selective tradition, the role of romance fiction donations, and public library practices in New South Wales, Australia." Information Research 25.2 [Free Access]

Congratulations Vassilikí!

Wednesday, March 17, 2021

Concerns about Methodology of Racial Diversity Report

I've posted in the past about (and cited) the Ripped Bodice's reports on racial diversity in romance publishing so I thought it was important to note that concerns have been raised about the methodologies used in their production.

Here's the abstract/summary of Nick and Ari's critique, which can be found in full here:

We offer a critique of The Ripped Bodice’s State of Racial Diversity in Romance Publishing Report. With its lack of transparency, unethical, and unclear methodology, the diversity report leaves us with more questions than with answers. Though well-meaning, a study like this does a disservice to both publishers and BIPOC authors, while also setting a dangerous precedent of allowing poor ethics and poor data practices to run rampant in the romance community. In the last couple of years, we have seen the damaging effects of allowing misinformation in the media, so why are we still uncritically accepting a report that could be spreading misinformation to be published year after year? We urge The Ripped Bodice to do better and to carefully consider a few of the alternatives presented in this article.

In further comments on Twitter, Nick adds that:

We outline the ethical, transparency, and statistical issues & offer suggestions for alternatives. We didn't *want* to do this but their resounding silence in response to our Tweets/email/requests to view the raw data led us to believe that this needs further attention. We aren't saying what they are doing is unimportant, but the study needs to be conducted appropriately.

[Edited on 23 March 2021 to add more below.]

The Ripped Bodice have responded to the criticisms in detail here. Responses to their tweet about this can be found here, there's a list of tweets which respond by quote-tweeting it here, and I'm sure there are many other responses. Here's a tiny sample of some of them: 






and because the following has three tweets in sequence, I'm putting it in as an image rather than an embedded link, but it came from here:

This is Nick saying (at 1:47 pm · 24 Mar 2021 "I want to reiterate that NOWHERE in the article did we dismiss the conclusions of the report. I don't understand why people are twisting our words or putting words into our mouths but I guess I'll be more explicit here. We stated that this work IS important.

Trad publishing IS a mess. And they absolutely have a long way to go to truly bring equality and diversity to the industry. Clearly this "report" has done nothing to change anything majorly in the past 5 years.

So, why not bring changes to the actual report so that the bleak numbers can be taken more seriously by the industry because my perception (or suspicion) is that they are not at all taken seriously because publishers are aware of the issues?" 

Monday, March 08, 2021

CFP: Conference on Georgette Heyer’s The Black Moth at 100

Dr. Sam Hirst, of Romancing the Gothic, is organising a conference and looking for submissions:

Cover of The Black Moth

1921 saw the publication of a 19-year-old Georgette Heyer’s first novel The Black Moth. This tale of romantic highwayman, demonic rakes, abduction, ravishing beauties, betrayal and deceit set in the 18th century began a career which spanned over 50 years. [...] Her legacy is not, of course, without its problems – the world she created has its limitations, its prejudices and its biases. This one-day online conference on 20th November 2021, will seek to explore Heyer’s work and her legacy with a spirit both of celebration and of critical enquiry.

We will be joined on the day by Keynote Speaker Jennifer Kloester, author of Georgette Heyer: Biography of a Best-Seller (2011) and Georgette Heyer’s Regency World (2010). We will also be joined by a panel of authors for a roundtable on ‘Queer Reimaginings of Georgette Heyer’. We will be joined for this panel by Rose Lerner, Zen Cho, Cat Sebastian, K J Charles and Olivia Waite all of whom write within a Regency setting including communities largely absent or vilified in Heyer’s work, including queer communities, people of colour, the working class and Jewish people. This roundtable will look at both the influence of Heyer and at the idea of moving beyond the ‘Heyer World’ to explore different aspects of Regency England through more or less fantastical settings!

We are looking for papers to be included on 3-person panels throughout the day. We accept panel submissions or individual papers. We strongly encourage work which engages in interdisciplinary study. The aim of the conference is to explore aspects of Heyer’s work encapsulated in or hinted at by her first novel The Black Moth.

There are two types of paper that we are looking for.

  1. There will be regular panels of 3 x 20-minute papers.
  2. There will also be a session of ‘Lightening talks’ lasting ten minutes. Lightening talks allow for a shorter exploration of a limited aspect of the novels, a more personal enquiry or the presentation of an experimental idea!

The closing date for submissions is 31st May 2021. More details here (and also here).

Sam has added on Twitter that "Everyone is welcome to participate - academics and non-academics alike. [...] We want to create a diverse and welcoming space for everyone. We are queer friendly and want to include perspectives from all over the world. [...]

Regency spaces can sometimes be unfriendly to people of colour, queer people and people of different faiths. We are dedicated to making sure that that's not the case. Welcome one, welcome all."

Romancing the Gothic has a code of conduct and "there is a small honorarium for each speaker because we believe in valuing people's work and time in concrete ways."

Thursday, February 25, 2021

Free New Publication: Georgette Heyer, History and Historical Fiction

Edited by Samantha J. Rayner and Kim Wilkins, and published by UCL Press, Georgette Heyer, History and Historical Fiction was published today. It's available free for download at


Here's a list of the essays it contains:

1. ‘Where History says little, Fiction may say much’ (Anna Barbauld): the historical novel in women’s hands in the mid-twentieth century - Kathryn Sutherland 

2. The not so silly ass: Freddy Standen, his fictional contemporaries and alternative masculinity - Geraldine Perriam 

3. Judith Taverner as dandy-in-training in Georgette Heyer’s Regency Buck - Laura George

4. Pride and prejudice: metafiction and the value of historical romance in Georgette Heyer - Kim Sherwood

5. Loving and giving: realism, emotional hypocrisy, and generosity in A Civil Contract - Jennifer Clement

6. Georgette Heyer and redefining the Gothic romance - Holly Hirst

7. Heyer . . . in Space! The Influence of Georgette Heyer on science fiction - Kathleen Jennings 

8. All’s Well That Ends Well: Shakespearean Echoes in Heyer’s Regency novels - Lisa Hopkins

9. Georgette Heyer, Wellington’s Army and the First World War - Vanda Wilcox

10. Georgette Heyer and the language of the historical novel - Tom Zille 

11. A reluctant movie? The Reluctant Widow on screen - Lucie Bea Dutton

12. Georgette Heyer – guilty pleasures - Amy Street

13. Data science: Georgette Heyer’s historical novels and her readers - Helen Davidge