Sunday, June 25, 2006


So, let's see--this is my new blog about romance novels.

Well, not my blog. At least, not mine alone. Pam Regis, author of the indispensible A Natural History of the Romance Novel, will be joining me. So will other members of the RomanceScholar listserv, if they'd like--and so can you, if you're an academic who wants to post about romance fiction, whether as a critic, teacher, or fan.

I'd also love to see here--which means I'll post here--any syllabi, class notes, paper topics, or other ancillary materials you'd like to share. I do have another website under construction, "Resources for Teaching Popular Romance Fiction," where such materials could go, but alas, my webmistress is away for the summer, so that project is on hold. Bring them here, post them up, share the wealth, everyone! Or send them to me, and I'll do it for you.

To begin, then, here's the syllabus I tried for my first class on popular romance fiction, a 200-level undergraduate class that drew 40 students, more or less, from across the university:

English 286: Popular Literature: Romance

Prof. Eric Murphy Selinger
Fall, 2005: Tuesdays and Thursdays, 10:10-11:40, LEVAN 508

McGaw 217; Office Hours: Tuesday, 3-4, and by appointment

Course Description: English 286 (Romance) will introduce you to the history of the “romance novel,” to some of its major 20th and 21st century subgenres and authors, and to the critical debates that have surrounded this most popular of popular literatures, with particular attention to feminist debates over the worth, appeal, and effects of romance fiction on women readers.

Course Assignments, with Approximate Weights

1. Two short papers (5 pp.), each of which will analyze one of our assigned novels based on critical terms and concepts discussed in class and imported from your other learning. Assignment sheets will be distributed in advance: 20% each

2. One group presentation OR individual “Memo to Selinger” on a genre and / or exemplary text I have not covered this quarter, but should in future classes. Topics might include a particular line of series romance, Christian / inspirational romance, paranormal romance, science fiction romance, erotic romance, gay and lesbian romance, African-American or other “ethnic” romance, Western romance, or Chick-Lit. Assignment sheets will be distributed in advance: 20%

3. A take-home final exam, focused on the final novels in the class: 20%

Schedule Of Classes, Topics, And Readings

Thursday, Sept. 8: Introduction to the Class and to each other. Introduction to the history of “romance.”

Topic 1: What is Romance, and Why Do People Say Such Nasty Things About It?

Tuesday, Sept. 13: Sarah Bird, The Boyfriend School; please also read the essays by Jennifer Crusie which I will link to the class Blackboard site

Thursday, Sept. 15: The Boyfriend School, continued

Topic 2: Of Alpha Males and Bodice Rippers

Tuesday, Sept. 20: E. M. Hull, The Sheik
Thursday, Sept. 22:
Kathleen E. Woodiwiss, The Flame and the Flower

Tuesday, Sept. 27: The Flame and the Flower, cont.
Thursday, Sept. 29:
Emma Holly, Hunting Midnight First paper due

Topic 3: Austen and Everything After (Regencies)


Thursday, Oct. 6:
Georgette Heyer, These Old Shades.

Tuesday, Oct. 11: Julia Quinn, The Viscount Who Loved Me;

Tuesday, Oct. 18: Mary Ballogh, Slightly Dangerous

Topic 4: Building a Mystery (Romantic Suspense)

Thursday, Oct. 20: Mary Stewart, Madam, Will You Talk?
Tuesday, Oct. 25:
Linda Howard, Mr. Perfect

Topic 5: Historicals (not “Historical Hystericals”)

Thursday, Oct. 27: Roberta Gellis, Desiree Second paper due
Tuesday, Nov. 1:
Beverly Jenkins, Something like Love;

Topic 6: Contemporaries and Meta-Romance

Thursday, Nov. 3: Jennifer Crusie: Bet Me
Tuesday, Nov. 8:
Bet Me, continued; and / or First Group Presentations

Thursday, Nov. 10: Group Presentations: individual “Memos” due
Nov. 15:
Group Presentations and Wrap-up;

Take-home final due back to me: Weds, November 23.

I should note, before I run, that the class didn't really look like this in practice. I dropped several books and changed the assignments, revising our priorities on the fly. Tomorrow I'll post more about why I chose these books, most of which I'm still teaching, and I'll put up the syllabi of the next two iterations of the course, with thoughts about the changes, term to term.

Right now, though, I'm through with blogging for the day. It's World Cup soccer and Tell Me Lies for the rest of the weekend, for me!



  1. Curse you, Selinger! Another blog I absolutely have to read.

    Seriously, this is a fabulous creation. I'm looking forward to it. Any chance of an RSS feed or such?

    Jo Beverley

  2. I'm a romance author, and I must say your syllabus looks fantastic. I especially love the diversity of the titles on your reading list.

    Congratulations on the new blog. I'm eagerly awaiting more posts, and I'll second Jo Beverley's request for an RSS feed.

    Brenda Coulter from No rules. Just write.

  3. I've tried to add an RSS feed to the right column, at the top. Let me know if it doesn't work!


  4. Many thanks, Eric.

    I blogged about you yesterday. Keep up the good work!

  5. Eric, the RSS feed's now working with Yahoo.