Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Princeton Romance Conference

I'm going to do things backwards and post about the Princeton Conference first, then go back and post about PCA. I want to do Princeton before the 31 pages of Twitter stream for #romcon disappear. I will link to about where the Twitter stream starts for each of the papers. It is listed in reverse chronological order, with the most recent posts (ie: later in paper) at the top of the screen. Go to "newer" posts to progress in the paper.

I'm also going to talk about Friday's papers first, then go back to Thursday evening's panel. I've got to type that one up--I took real, hand-written notes because I didn't have my computer! :)

Romance and Religion: SB Sarah has already blogged this panel in detail.

What fascinated me about this panel was how well it interacted and intersected with my own research into BDSM romance. The catch phrases of BDSM (bondage, discipline, domination, submission) kept coming up again and again through these papers. I'm going to have to hunt down Lynn's book, especially, to see if there's anything I can use.

Lynn S. Neal: What is Inspirational Romance? Twitter starts about here.

Redeeming Love: The love is between man and woman and the couple and God. Conflicts are about God and represent a deeper spiritual malaise. Transformation that seems magical in other books are brought about by the power of God’s love. Neal interviewed 50 female readers of Inspirational romance. It was the readers’ religious choice to read these books. IR represents entertainment and escape and a redemption of popular culture that affirms the values of the readers. IR is an attractive option for both fun and upholding boundaries of faith. It is “wholesome entertainment: pleasing to God because it has scripture and it’s clean. It is a Godly way of self-entertainment, of sacrilizing all of life. They are able to forget about impure books that offer danger rather than safety and instead have an opportunity to combine love of reading and love of God. It’s a “Brain break.” However, the drive may well be escapist, but its fulfillment may not be. Instead, it’s a way through which readers achieve spiritual change. They gained little realizations that helped foster everyday piety. The effectiveness of inspirational romance comes from its utility. How does it establish an emotional connection between the heroine and the reader? It transforms hearing into knowing, doubt into certainty, and a vague sense of God into everyday reality. A Christian romance novel helps readers envision and encounter God’s love and care. Christian romances are a filter for interpreting God and the Bible. The Bible becomes a romance.

Pam Regis: Writing the History of the American Romance Twitter stream starts about here

Regis is trying to put Inspirational romance in larger context of American novel. Inspirational romance is one of the foundations of the American romance writ large. In fact, the form endorses one of the highest forms of freedom: Christian liberty. In romance in general, when characters choose to overcome the barrier, it’s an expression of freedom and the reader feels joy. Regis is writing “The History of the American Romance.” Issues: Have to figure out who is American and who isn’t. Is the form “invented” by M&B and HQN. Is the “form” merely a marketing tool. There are also so many books and such different books—it’s impossible to choose a representative book. There is no bibliography. What was first romance, how far back does it go? Samuel Richardson’s Pamela is first romance novel in America, it was abridged early and often in ways that usually put moralizing at end. Holding an old early-US copy of Pamela feels like holding a HQN romances: that’s how big they are. E.D.E.N. Southworth’s book Vivia: secret of power is faith—definitely inspirational. Regis trying to do books that aren’t covered by everyone else. Highsmith’s The Price of Salt: first popular lesbian romance. Beverly Jenkins: AA romances write very different ending to and are in conversation with previous AA writers or about AA characters (Harriet Jacobs’s Life of a Slave Girl and Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin). Elements of Form: What do barrier and ritual death say about faith in the American romance? Ritual death: mythic moment when union seems least possible between courting protagonists (dark moment). EDEN Southworth’s Vivia: or, the Secret of Power: sentimental romance. Sentimental values: home, affection, connection, family, kinship, sympathy, emotion especially love, Christianity. Part bildungsroman. Barriers (especially between secondary characters) include melodrama, class, disability, separation, deceit. Values of the American romance, both secular and inspirational: Freedom, Individuality, life eternal vs. Death and perversion. Christianity is not on list. Life eternal does mean Christian values in Vivia, but in romance novels it’s the promise of children in epilogues. Inspirational romances are purest form of American romance. Faith—religious, secular, or both—suffuses the American romance (even atheists have faith in love). Freedom and faith are not in conflict in the American romance. Religion is not a tributary of American romance, it’s a source.

R. Marie Griffith (Princeton Religion Dept.) Twitter stream starts about here.

Everything she knows about inspirational romance comes from Lynn Neal. Instead, her research is on evangelical self-help manuals, diet and fitness manuals, and sexuality and marriage guides and she’ll be talking about this today. Evangelical women’s self-help literature: goes back all way into 19thC. Feminism 2nd wave: Friedan’s Feminine Mystique shows us how difficult to it was to be a woman. Friedan’s solution was to stop conforming to the traditional picture of womanhood and to enjoy life. This was seen as women’s rejection of biological roles of wife and mother and destroying all good things about America. Equality between sexes was not a Christian ideal. True liberation is found in submission to husband because of the ideal of a submissive feminine subject and all powerful masculine God. Woman’s relationship with God is shown as father/daughter relationship or marital relationship. God is/as perfect husband, which may compensate for his earthly partner’s imperfections. Can refresh and heal even the most broken marriages. God gets something out of relationship too. Following God’s commands, and flattering him fulfill women’s visions of perfect love relationship. It is a literature of hope and faith and upholds sentimental values. Christian diet and fitness lit: Human body’s fitness affects relationships between god and people—those who are thin and healthy exemplify God’s grace and reward. They caution readers against vanity: not main reason for diets. The main reason to diet has to be keeping bodies under subjection to God’s will. Happiness is found through submission: loving and pleasing God. The image of God as divine lover or husband used as tool to compel Christian women to get thin: “Slim for Him.” “More of Jesus, less of me.” There is an erotic fulfillment through getting thin for god (God as the ultimate HQN billionaire tycoon). One gains one’s happy ending through disciplining the body. There is an eroticization of the power differential. Evangelical sex and marriage guides: Christlike sex and lots of it, selling promises of love and romance. Sexual purity and bodily discipline lead to most sumptuous bodily pleasures and emotional connection.

Beth Patillo (romance author) Twitter stream starts about here.

Beth gets up and says of Griffith's research, "Dude, that's messed up!" Patillo has always kept the romance author part of her life and the minister part of her life separate but her agent said that she could sell a Christian book like that *fingersnap*. Patillo herself has a very low level of interest in personal purity. Heavens to Betsy: 25,000 copies printed in trade paperback, but because Lifeway refused to carry it b/c it was a woman minister, probably about 21,000 were remaindered, because they were trying exclusively for the Christian audience, not the romance audience. Patillo is a non-evangelical Christian writer. The Christian Book Association (CBA) is such a specialized market, but a very vocal market. Miss California: sure, she’s standing for “traditional” marriage, but there’s no comment on Fox about her parading across stage in bikini. Evangelical books: no eroticism. All physicality is about emotions, not eroticism. Christian faith must be depicted as normative but as over and above popular culture. As an author: how do you create journey for two characters who are so squeaky clean to begin with? There is an intense focus on certain pietistic practices designated as “Christian.” Hasn’t had emails about “why didn’t your characters work for justice?” Small Christian book stores are closing at the rate of 100 per year. Only 400 left. What are CBA publishers going to do when they’re dealing with Walmart and not Christian gatekeepers. What’s going to happen to Inspirational fiction when personal piety is not going to be the only definition of Christianity? There might be possibility for happy ending in Inspirational market for romance authors who are not evangelical or pious.

Eric Selinger Twitter stream starts about here. Eric discussed his path to this paper at Romancing the Blog.

Polhemus discusses erotic faith: romance as religion. Eric’s Facebook profile lists “Married” under Religious Preference. In 1990s, literary and cultural commentators announced the death of love. Allan Bloom claimed that one has to have a tin ear to describe one’s greatest love as a “relationship.” Bloom inadvertently points out where erotic faith continued to thrive: “cheap” romantic love. How did we get to be as we are? In Flowers from the Storm, Kinsale plays with long history and conventions of historical romances. Christian, Duke of Jervaulx is a mathematician, so let’s think geometrically: Chiasmus: Maddie is Christian, Christian is mad. Christian is soul trapped in body, Maddie is a body trapped by her soul. Eric is not using Milton just to show off as poetry professor, Kinsale makes the use of Milton as a motif explicit. The novel makes a fetish of Maddie’s long hair, which mirrors the view of Eve in Paradise Lost. Maddie is Eve, Jervaulx is Satan and the means of salvation is mutual human love. How does this novel layer history? Maddie and Jervaulx are 19thC couple with very 20thC conversations about freedom and equality, but those debates range back to 16thC and 17thC views of marriage. Quaker brides explicitly do not say that they will “obey” husbands. “No rule but love between them,” from William Penn. All of these historical contexts have to be kept in mind and this novel is very aware of this. It puts traditions of popular romance fiction right next to 16thC-19thC contexts and conventions.

Mary Bly's question of Pam: Mary’s uncomfortable with faith in romance that’s NOT inspirational being put together with evangelical type of romance. The burst of imagination that makes marriage work in inspirational romance is very very different from the imaginative relationship with another entity. Faith that the relationship will work out is very different from faith that we need another entity to make a relationship work. So conflating the two types of faith is very vexing.

The panel was a great start to the day and an example of all that is good and wonderful about romance scholarship today.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Princeton Posts 2009

I linked to the tweets from the conference in my last post, but there are also a few summaries online now.

At Dear Author there's an overview of the whole conference written by "reader, Karen W, who helps organize the fabulous Celebrate Romance seminar."

Another overview, this time from Joanne Rendell, can be found at The Huffington Post.

Hillary Rettig's piece at Daily Kos is a mixture of an overview and her own ideas about the connections between the romance genre and progressive thinking/activism. This can also be viewed at The Huffington Post.

You'll have to scroll down a bit to get to the summary but Michelle Buonfiglio has a post up about the "Keynote Roundtable, 'Romance Fiction and American Culture'" which included presentations by Tania Modleski, Stephanie Coontz, Mary Bly [“Eloisa James”], and Jennifer Crusie.

Smart Bitch Sarah Wendell summarises the presentations by Lynn S. Neal and Pamela Regis on inspirational romance.

Ann Herendeen, who was part of "Session II: Memory and Desire: Romance, History, and Literary Tradition" has now put up a transcript of her conference presentation.

Michelle Buonfiglio, who was speaking in the "Closing Roundtable: Romance Reads the Academy" has put up a full transcript of her presentation. This presentation turned out to be rather controversial and generated a number of responses after the conference, at sites including Dear Author, All About Romance, and Smart Bitches Trashy Books.

I'll update this post if I find more posts about the conference.

Princeton Tweets

Sarah Frantz and Smart Bitch Sarah are tweeting at the conference and even if you don't read the pages of tweets live, they do give a good feel for what's been going on there.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Beyond Heaving Bosoms Blog Tour

Sarah Wendell and Candy Tan of Smart Bitches, Trashy Books and Beyond Heaving Bosoms fame have graciously agreed to answer some probing questions from the denizens of TMT (or at least those of us who could be found at short notice). Actually their "gracious" response was more along the lines of "HELL YEAH" (Candy) and "Are you shitting me? HELL YEAH x2!" (Sarah), but that works for us, too.

So, here we go. Prepare for the invasion!

TMT Sarah: I will be assigning this book if/when I ever teach romance again. You've got the history, the criticism, the analysis, all in a neat, screamingly-funny package. Were you trying to write an academically valuable book with BHB, or a "textbook" of romance analysis, or were you just writing to entertain? Is there a difference? ;)

SB Sarah: We were definitely not aiming for academic analysis or a textbook on romance. But since both of us were English majors with an unhealthy interest in critical analysis, our examination of romances as valid and worthy narratives demanded we whip out the Jung (no pun intended) (no, I lie, totally intended) and subject the romance to the same level of attention as other narrative fiction.

Candy: One of my aims while writing this book was to write a funny, entertaining dissection of the modern romance novel, and to have fun while taking a hard look at the issues that many critics either (to my mind) mischaracterized or have mostly skirted around. I don't know that I was consciously thinking "This sure will be useful for professors who are all into women's literature and pop culture studies," and to be honest, I think in some ways it's a pretty poor resource for serious academics--it is, at best, a very quick and (very, very) dirty introduction to the genre and the issues it presents. It is, however, a fast and readable intro for students, so it has that much going for it.

As for writing to entertain: while I can write in a dry, academic tone, I'm also the kind of geek who thinks it's much more awesome to write about serious academic matters while using generous amounts of parody and cussin', so yeah, I write to entertain AND to inform. (Relatedly: I also think it's easier to get my message across to the widest cross-section of interested people when I'm funny. Which term is the average person going to remember more easily: man-titty and Heroic Wang, or metonymical hypertrophied masculinity?)

TMT Sarah: Why do you feel romances are viable subjects of academic analysis? What about why they are valuable subjects? What can we learn, as academics, from studying popular romance?

SB Sarah: How could they not be? A genre devoted to women's self-actualization and sexual agency, produced during and after the feminist movement, read by women and created by women? Gee, nothing at all to see here. Please move along.

The romance genre is an anthropological history of women's sexuality in North America over the past 60+ years. If you want to study a culture, study it's popular culture - and romance novels are a crucial element to our popular culture.

Candy: I said in a recent entry for the Powell's Books blog that romance novels are the subduction zones of literature, and that sums up, in one over-stretched nerd simile, why I think they're worth academic analysis and why they're valuable subjects. There are all sorts of interesting conflicts and assumptions and subversions going on in romance novels about gender roles, courtship rituals, the constitution of families, sexual norms, etc. And they're valuable, not only for the overt conflicts they present, but for all the subtextual stuff that's assumed and unsaid, like how sexually deviant behaviors in villains (oh my god they're GAY, or holy crap they like TYING PEOPLE UP AND THEN WHIPPING THEM) serve as a symbol for a villainous rejection of other societal values.

TMT Sarah: If you were writing a dissertation about popular romance, what would the thematic focus of your analysis be and why? (Mine, for example, would be the construction of the hero.) What books would you analyze and why?

SB Sarah: If I were writing a dissertation (and concurrent with that premise is the outright fucking miracle that I'd be allowed to in a graduate program. No, not bitter, not at all) on romance, I'd probably focus on acts of violence on the part of heroines, particularly in paranormals, and likely contrast that with violence from heroes. I'd analyze the Cole series, Showalter's books, Kelley Armstrong's series, and a lot of the urban fantasy genre. I am fascinated by how adding the whizzy fizz of paranormality suddenly makes room for women to literally rip someone a new one.

Candy: I think it would have to be the evolution of sex in romance novels. God, that'd be a huge, unwieldy (and throbbing--at least, it'd make my head throb) dissertation, wouldn't it? I think I'd focus on non-consensual sex in romances--whether it's possible to create a principled distinction between forced seduction and rape in the fictional world, why rape by the hero is OK, why rape by the villain isn't, when romance hero rape stopped being the norm, and how that rape has been channeled into other avenues, like the unwilling turning of the heroine in paranormals. I started naming names of books at first, and it rapidly got out of control, especially once I realized that I'd listed mostly historicals without even thinking of all the contemporaries and category romances I'd want to cover as well, so let's just acknowledge that if I did, in fact, write this dissertation, it'd probably take me eight full years and lot of tears, cussing and bloodshed.

TMT Sarah: The one small issue people have been having with BHB is that it's very historical romance centric. Do you agree and if so, why do you think this is?

SB Sarah: Yes, it is historical-romance centric, and part of that was constraints of total word count and part of that was our desire to really portray the full history of what most people think of when they think "romance novel" - e.g. the historical bodice ripper. And in discussing it, we had to reveal it, unpack it a bit, and defend it because that's the source of the most damaging of the stereotypes hurled at the genre: ye olde "bodice ripper."

Candy: It's a fair cop; the only thing I can say in reply is that we were trying to represent the history of the genre, and historicals dominated for decades--I mean, they've only ceded ground in the last seven or eight years to paranormals. And it's also what I'm most familiar with, and what I've read the most, so when I have to trot out an example that I can examine intelligently, it's probably going to be a historical.

TMT Eric: Near the start of the book you call yourselves "lit nerds." When did you start thinking like "lit nerds" about romance fiction? Was there a particular book that got you started?

SB Sarah: I probably started thinking like a lit nerd when I had a really demanding professor in college, and when, in the course of writing papers for that course, found a literary journal called "The Explicator" which had the wonderful combination of being (a) full of concise, short, but delightfully sharp pieces of criticism of random things and (b) somewhat friendly to elements of popular culture in its subject matter. It became my go-to journal for critical backup when writing a paper. That was the type of criticism I wanted to write.

As for harnessing the lit crit thunderstick and waving it at romance (oh noes!) I am honestly not sure which one it was that started the whole mess. It might have been Kelley Armstrong's "Bitten" which really got me thinking about the subtext of otherworldly villainy in a terrorism-conscious society.

Candy: I think I first started analyzing romances after I read Loretta Chase's The Lion's Daughter when I was seventeen years old or so, because the hero and heroine were so unusual. The hero is a wastrel in a distinctly un-romantic way, because you see in a very concrete way what happens when a rich kid fritters away his fortune, whereas a lot of historicals at the time tended to present these rakish wastrels in a much more dashing light. And that got me thinking about how characters were portrayed in romance, and how the characters were made to fit into boxes, but the authors didn't seem especially aware of the boxes--or, if they were aware, they didn't really care to take the characters out of those boxes and sort of extending them to their logical conclusions. Once I went to college and learned some actual analytical tools, forget about it--I did (and to this day) still do it to just about anything I read, from magazine articles to Supreme Court opinions to romance novels. I'm fucknoxious that way.

TMT Eric: In your book and on your blog you don't just celebrate the best romance novels; you have a lot of fun with some of the worst of them. What makes a really good (or really fun) bad book? Why is it important to celebrate (as well as mock) the stuff that "makes the baby Ganesh weep with the badness"?

SB Sarah: Well, if you can't laugh at the stuff that really does suck with the badness, how would anyone take you seriously when you try to tell them how good the other stuff is?

Candy: I love lots of bad romances, and I think what tends to make then really fun for me are the ones that hit my taboo hot buttons (like Morning Song by Karen Robards, which features a truly squicky but compelling romance between a stepfather and stepdaughter), or ones that showcase a certain kind of good-natured energy, like a lot of Dara Joy's work. The bad books that are the most fun to write about, however, tend to be the ones that make me mad, because then I'm writing with passion, and sweet creamy Christ it's so cathartic to strike back at a book that's injured my aesthetic and grammatical sensibilties.

And it's important to acknowledge the bad stuff unflinchingly (well, OK, we flinch for the Indian and sheik romances) because--well, it's the same thing for any argument, isn't it? Find your weak spots and cover them before your opponents can. Like Sarah said, if we insist that everything is sparkly ponies and magical liopleurodons, when it's patently not, then it's going to be hard for people to take us seriously when we point out the awesome bits that deserve celebration. Standards require a baseline and differentiation; ignoring the bad stuff just turns us into mindless cheerleaders.

TMT Eric: What are your favorite Old Skool romances? Is there an Old Skool romance you wish that we Professors Brilliant would take a look at?

Sarah: My favorite Old Skool will always be "Midsummer Magic" by Catherine Coulter. Dowdy disguises! Forced marriages! Surly but noble hero with moral compass. AND USE OF CREAM OMG TO SMOOTH THE TENDER PASSAGE. It's full of win and omg. Plus, the original printing has a swan freaking the fuck out behind the hero, and that always makes my year.

Candy: I can't think of a genuinely Old Skool romance that I love; I read them mostly because I want to see how romances have evolved with time. And if you Professors Brilliant would look at Catherine Coulter's Devil's Embrace, which made me go OH JESUS WHAT IN THE SWEET MOTHER OF FUCK more often than any other book I've read, ever, that'd be great, because I'd love to read an academic dissection of that book.

TMT Eric: If you could magically replace The Scarlet Letter with a romance novel in every high school in America, what romance novel would it be?

SB Sarah: "The Windflower" by Laura London or "Dream Man" by Linda Howard. The former b/c it is awesome. The latter because I don't like The Scarlet Letter and would replace it with something that bothered me equally on multiple levels.

Candy: Y'know, Hawthorne was a misogynist dipshit, but I like his writing style, and he had important things to say about the human condition. If I had to replace the Scarlet Letter with a romance, I think I'd go with a one-two punch of To Love and to Cherish and To Have and to Hold by Patricia Gaffney, largely because I think they're both really, really well-written, and they present very different facets of sexuality, sex roles and sexual control.

TMT Eric In many of the interviews with you have asked about the Magic Hoo-Hoo. Why do > you think that none of the interviewers have asked about the Heroic Wang of Mighty Lovin'?

SB Sarah: I was asked by a butterscotch-voiced radio host named Dr. Alvin Jones about the Wang of Mighty Lovin' and he sounded so incredible talking about it I wanted him to say it over and over again. Heroic Wang never sounded so good.

I think otherwise "Hoo Hoo" is part of the cultural consciousness, what with Grey's Anatomy talking about the 'va-jay-jay' and the presence of other socially acceptable somewhat funny euphemisms for vagina. So Hoo Hoo is yet another.

Candy: Have you seen Sarah Haskins' absolutely hilarious video on popular discourse on the vagina called Your Garden? [ETA: TMT Sarah's response: Bwahaha! OMG!] That video, right there, expresses my answer in pretty compact form. I'll have to try answering this question more fully some time in the future, though; I think I could easily write about 1,500 words on this issue.

TMT Eric: What (if anything) have you learned from the academics who study romance fiction? What could we academics learn from you?

SB Sarah: it makes me so happy to know there are academics who take it seriously, considering a ran screaming out of grad school in part because I couldn't study romances as a contextual field in which to locate any type of critical examination. I have learned that just about any specialty within the humanities (and probably the sciences as well) can be applied to romances, and because the genre is so neglected, there's an incredible amount of room to discover what lurks beneath the texts and across the various narrative trends. A minefield of heaving bosoms, if you will.

I don't know that you can learn much from me, really, except perhaps creative cussing. And how much I really hate the word "emails."

Candy: I've learned that the breadth and scope of romance is much bigger than what I could've imagined, thanks to you guys. As for what academics can learn from us: funny, foul-mouthed ways to refer to metonymical hypertrophied masculinity? All kinds of squirrelly stuff that fall under reader response theory?

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Beyond Heaving Bosoms

Beyond Heaving Bosoms: The Smart Bitches' Guide to Romance Novels has already been reviewed by Sarah Frantz over at Dear Author but I thought I'd offer a few of my own thoughts here.

Katie Dickson, in her review, describes Beyond Heaving Bosoms as "an authoritative text that will undoubtedly help many a scholar in his or her romance research in the days to come; I should dearly love to see BHB cited in an article over on GoogleScholar" and Sarah F states that it is "invaluable to the academic romance field we’re working so hard to build."1 However, although Sarah Wendell and Candy Tan exhort their readers to "break out your red pen and your English degree! While it's undeniable that romance novels are great fun, they should absolutely be subject to rigorous examination. We lit nerds say so" (7) they also add the caveat that while "There are [...] some excellent academic examinations that subject the genre to a long-overdue analysis. Us? We're here to throw a party for the genre" (1). Thus, although their book contains many serious insights into the genre, these are expressed in a less than academic style (for examples, see the excerpts on their website).

Beyond Heaving Bosoms focuses on issues related to sexuality and gender (although the authors do tackle a number of other issues).2 In this the book perhaps reveals the influence of Sarah Wendell's early interest in the work of Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick:
Sedgwick was, in short, holy shit amazing with critical analysis of gender relations in text. [...] Personally speaking. Segwick was part of the reason I long thought that romance novels ought to be held up to critical analysis, and also part of the reason I ran screaming out of grad school, never to return. [...]

When my paper [on "the novels of Jude Deveraux and Judith McNaught in particular, notably those that featured love triangles, competitive twins, and similar storylines"] was rejected by the professor on the grounds that I’d chosen an “unsuitable subject matter” for my analysis, I realized it was time to get the hell out of dodge. I left short of attaining my Master’s degree, and gave up any desire to get a PhD.

Sedgwick changed the way I looked at heterosexual relationships within the courtship rituals of romance novels.
It is perhaps because of this focus on sexuality that although Wendell and Tan devote a chapter to "A Brief History of the Modern Romance Novel," in this history the authors
cut right to the chase and talk about the clearest predecessor we can find for the modern romance novel: The Flame and the Flower by Kathleen E. Woodiwiss.
The Flame and the Flower was first published in 1972, and it's one of the most famous in the bodice-ripper tradition. (11)
They note that
"sweet, savage love" serves as a neat encapsulation of the older style of romances. The turmoil and violence, they runneth over in torrents as mighty as the hero's seed. And speaking of mighty torrents of heroic seed, it was well-nigh de rigeur for the heroine to be raped by the hero in those novels. (12)
The Old Skool, very roughly speaking, ran from the late 1970s through the '80s, while the New Skool started sometime in the late 1980s and continues to the present, but as with any attempts at categorization, there were some books published in the '80s that were in the New Skool mode, and Old Skool-style romances are still occasionally published. (13)
Clearly the distinction between "Old Skool" and "New Skool" romances, and the portrayal of ripped bodices and rape in the former, are important subjects to discuss. However, a history of the genre which begins in the 1970s is incomplete at best, and extremely misleading at worst. Even if one doesn't want to discuss older precursors of the modern genre, including Richardson's Pamela, the novels of Jane Austen and Jane Eyre (to name just a small sample of classic novels which meet the RWA criteria for a romance, namely that it feature "a central love story and an emotionally-satisfying and optimistic ending"), the modern genre did not suddenly come into existence in 1972. And if one's taking a look at romances in which the hero rapes the heroine, why not at least mention E. M. Hull's The Sheik (1919)?

At least one romance by Georgette Heyer, whose first novel was published in 1921, is named later in Beyond Heaving Bosoms, but not in this chapter, and I didn't spot even one mention of: Mary Stewart or other authors of modern "gothic" romances; pre-1945 Raj romances; any of the early authors of inspirational romances including Augusta Jane Evans (whose St Elmo I've discussed in two posts at Teach Me Tonight) and Grace Livingston Hill; or Barbara Cartland. Nor is there much mention of authors of romances in languages other than English, such as Corin Tellado.3 Given the chapter's very tight focus on "Old Skool" and "New Skool" romances, it might have been more accurate to label the chapter something other than "A Brief History of the Modern Romance Novel."

Although I've mentioned the focus on gender and sexuality and spent considerable time pointing out omissions from the chapter on the history of the genre, many other topics are touched on in Beyond Heaving Bosoms. Wendell and Tan
  • discuss how readers relate to the protagonists of romances e.g. are the heroines placeholders? does the reader explore "more 'masculine' elements of her personality" (75) via her relationship with the hero? does he represent "the Jungian shadow archetype" (76)?
  • note the way in which "The hero's occupation often forms a short-hand to his character" (91)
  • examine some "cringe-worthy plot devices we know and love" (99)
  • explore a few of the "romance trends we've known and loved (and loved to hate)" (107)
  • suggest some reasons why "romance [is] so often and so frequently denigrated" (126)
  • take a look at "the covers, and the reasons to snark them" (168)
  • list and give some details concerning "controversies, scandals, and not being nice" (190) in which they "have a look at our dirty laundry: minorities and gays in romance, plagiarism, and the pressure of the Be Nice culture in Romancelandia" (190)
  • attempt to predict "the future of the genre" (274) and
  • make the interesting observation that
the direct descendant of the romance-novel rape may not merely have changed genre [from historical to "paranormal and erotic romance"], but changed form. The involuntary change, in which the heroine is transformed into a vampire or superpowered being or three-toed weresloth, usually with copious amounts of blood, trauma, and sex, uses much of the same language and framework as rape in Old Skool romances. (146)

Wendell, Sarah, and Candy Tan. Beyond Heaving Bosoms: The Smart Bitches' Guide to Romance Novels. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2009.

1 Sarah rather sneakily embedded a link in there to the new website for IASPR. It's still under construction at the moment, so there's not a lot of text to read there, but you can see the logo (which includes a speech bubble incorporated into a heart, which I think informs the viewer that IASPR and JPRS are about romantic love and popular culture).

2 I should perhaps note at this point that I was rather gratified to see myself cited on pages 156-57 and 159 (with the quotes taken from a 2006 blog post I wrote about romance as sex education).

3 Wendell and Tan do mention "Littattafan Soyayya," "written in the local Hausa language, [which] 'extoll the values of true love based on feelings, rather than family or other social pressures.'" (131).

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

"Long-awaited cultural recognition"

Via Smart Bitch Sarah and Twitter comes news of another article about the romance genre's seemingly recession-proof success. What's particularly gratifying is the fact that although the article uses the unfortunate "bodice-ripper" label, the focus here is on the fact that the genre is "enjoying long-awaited cultural recognition":

this spring the genre will be the subject of [...] an academic symposium at Princeton University [...]

"Romance fiction is fascinating to look at as a social barometer," says Eric Selinger, co-organizer of the Princeton symposium. "It registers tensions, ideas and debates about gender relations, about love, about marriage, and about the relationship between domestic and public spheres."

Selinger, whose romance scholarship grew out of a personal passion for reading the books — he credits his wife for introducing him to the pastime — extols the genre as "wonderfully unpretentious," with resilient, optimistic characters and "a level of artistry" akin to sonnets in the surprising ways authors play with formula and literary convention.

"It's an art-form that hasn't gotten nearly the attention or respect of other literature," says Selinger, who teaches graduate seminars on romance at DePaul University in Chicago.

The '70s and '80s were hard on the genre. But even leading feminists such as American scholar Tania Modleski, who once dismissed romance as reaffirming patriarchal fantasies, have since come to praise the genre's role in validating female desire.

"There's legitimacy to feminist concern over a certain narrow type of romance narrative," says Canadian scholar Catherine Roach. "But there's a much wider scope to the romance-fiction industry as a whole."

Roach, an Ottawa native and expert on popular romantic fiction, finds it suspect that critics who malign romance novels for their idealistic, happily ever-after tales don't also target equally optimistic messages aimed at men.

"You see James Bond novels and detective stories . . . perpetuating the myth that justice will prevail and bad guys will be punished in the end, which are also false stories," says Roach, an associate professor at the University of Alabama. "But things that are women-dominated tend to accrue less power and prestige in our culture."

The article, by Misty Harris, also includes discussion of the covers of romances and details of a forthcoming exhibition about them:

[Elizabeth] Semmelhack notes heroines of romantic fiction were taking jobs as doctors, travelling alone and creating their own economic advantages long before it was widely accepted to do so off the page. These changes are often visible on the books' covers, which the Toronto-based art historian feels are worthy of close examination.

"The same way Rockwell wasn't considered an artist for many, many decades but has now been added to the art history canon, many of these (romance) artists are very deserving of having their work looked at critically."

Monday, April 13, 2009

PCA 2009: Romance 3

More notes from Jessica at Read React Review, this time on

3133 Romance III: The Politics of Romance 1: Sex, Class, Race, Place
Friday, April 10, 2:30 P.M. – 4:00 P.M.
Chair: Darcy Martin, East Tennessee State University

―Complicating the Capitalist: Money and Marriage in Judith McNaught's Contemporary Novels
By Jayashree Kamble, University of Minnesota

―Contemporary Black Romance Novels and the Politics of Representation
By Julie Moody-Freeman, DePaul University

―Rip My Bodice: Sex-Positive Culture and the Romance Novel Today
By Catherine Roach, University of Alabama

―Vulgar v. republican (small r): a comparative discussion of class and origin
By Maryan Wherry, Black Hawk College

Sunday, April 12, 2009

PCA 2009: Romance 4

Jessica has another of her summaries up at Read React Review, this time for

4030 Romance IV: The Politics of Romance 2: In the Ideological Cuddle
Saturday, April 11, 10:00 A.M. – 11:30 A.M.
Chair: Darcy Martin, East Tennessee State University

―The Romance of Pain: Sadomasochism and Power Exchange in Popular Romance Fiction
By Sarah Frantz, Fayetteville State University

―Transcending the Domestic: Cultural Power and Domestic Identity in JD Robb's In Death Series
By Tessa Kostelc, University of Wyoming

―Challenging the '-isms': Gender and Race in Brockmann's Troubleshooters Series
By Margaret Haefner, North Park University

―'Til Death Do Us Part': The Institution of Marriage in Megan Hart's Broken and Tempted
By Glinda Hall, University of Arkansas, Fort Smith

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Corín Tellado: Queen of the Novela Rosa

Corín Tellado, an extremely important figure in romantic fiction written in Spanish, died this morning, aged 81. According to her obituary in El País she was
La autora, la más leída en español después de Miguel de Cervantes, ha publicado más de 4.000 novelas románticas, de las que se han vendido más de 400 millones de ejemplares, a lo largo de su vida.

[The most-read Spanish author after Miguel de Cervantes; in the course of her life she wrote more than 4,000 romantic novels, with more than 400 million copies sold in total.]
There's a "selected bibliography" of her works at Wikipedia.

Her first novel was published on the twelfth of October 1946. According to her website,
Cada una de sus novelas es el reflejo de la realidad inmediata que nos rodea, de las costumbres al uso "Recuerdo que a José Luis Garci le hacía mucha gracia que mis protagonistas tuvieran coche, que mis mujeres condujesen en una época en que en España la costumbre todavía no estaba extendida".

[Each of her novels reflects the reality of daily life, of contemporary mores: "I remember that José Luis Garci was very amused by the fact that my protagonists had cars, that my female characters drove in a period when that still wasn't common in Spain."]
Another reality of the time in which she began her career was censorship:
"Cultural censorship played a vital role in Franco's regime. It was perhaps the most effective element of the dictatorship, without which Franco would not have been able to control Spanish society" (Itziar, 1999:54). Franco's aim was to preserve his regime's ideology and isolate Spanish culture from foreign influences. In order to achieve that, his censorship had to be concerted and it was thus carried out by three departments: the Book Censorship section, the Cinema and Theater Department and the Information and Censorship section.

All three departments were responsible for banning every artistic work that posed a threat to the regime's ideology. Sexual morality, politics, religion and the use of language were the main sensitive issues with regard to censorship. As far as books were concerned, not only was pre-publication censorship by the government established, but works were also subjected to self-censorship by the author or translator and editorial censorship by publishers. (Keratsa)
Romantic fiction, by its very nature, tends to tell stories which touch on issues of sexual morality, and the dictatorship promoted it for this reason:
The promotion of the novela rosa, or romance novel, in the Spain of the Generalísimo was intended to expose Spaniards to a particular moral attitude that would further distance them from the sexual liberalism tolerated in some democratic nations. [...] The romantic stories of authors such as Trini de Figueroa, María Teresa Sese, María Adela Durango, María Teresa Largo, José Marzo, and Carlos Santander, to name but a few, were viewed by the Franco regime as a way to promote a Catholic vision of love. (Faura, Godsland and Moody 47)
Under Franco "moral censorship policed profanity, obscenity, and eroticism, demanding 'buenas costumbres' ('proper behavior') in public and print" (Pérez 628). Tellado acknowledged that censorship had shaped her writing:
"Recuerdo una novela en que dejé al protagonista ciego. El editor me la devolvió con una carta en la que pedía: "¡opéralo!". Y lo operé, claro. En cuanto a mi estilo, fue la censura quien lo perfiló. Algunas novelas venían con tantos subrayados que apenas quedaba letra en negro. Me enseñaron a insinuar, a sugerir más que a mostrar".

["I remember writing a novel in which I left the hero blind. My editor sent it back to me with a letter in which he asked: "Operate on him!" And I did operate, of course. As far as my style is concerned, it was honed by censorship. Some novels came back with so much underlining there was barely a letter left black. They taught me to insinuate things, to suggest more than show."] (from her website)
As Faura, Godsland and Moody note, despite the censorship that was in place,
some writers were able to write novels which contained comments made by their characters alongside ambiguous events that evidence a disparity between what was actually articulated and what was implied. We suggest that the rosa fiction of Corín Tellado best exemplifies this tendency.
Corín Tellado is foremost among novela rosa writers of the twentieth century. (50)
She continued working right to the end, having just finished her last novel on Wednesday (according to the obituary in El Mundo).

Her novels have been analysed in a number of works, including:

  • Álvarez, Blanca. Corín Tellado. Madrid: Grupo Libro 88, 1991.
  • Carmona González, Angeles. Corín Tellado: el erotismo rosa. Madrid: Espasa Calpe, 2002.
  • Erhart, Virginia. “Amor, Ideología y Enmascaramiento en Corín Tellado.” Imperialismo y Medios Masivos de Comunicación. Casa de las Americas 77 (1973): 93-101.
  • Erhart, Virginia. "Amor y consumo en las novelas de Corin Tellado." Cuadernos de Comunicación 2.17 (1976): 16-21.
  • Faura, Salvador, Shelley Godsland, and Nickianne Moody. "The Romance Novel, or, the Generalisimo's Control of the Popular Imagination." Reading the Popular in Contemporary Spanish Texts. Newark, DE: U of Delaware P., 2004. 46-58.
  • Mabee, Norma Augusta. La novela rosa de Corín Tellado: Desorden, conflicto y escape de la ectopia. Dissertation Abstracts International 54.4 (1993): 1357A-1357A.
  • Mendez Jose Luis. "The Novels of Corin Tellado." Studies in Latin American Popular Culture 5 (1986):31-40.

A longer obituary in El País (also in Spanish) can be found here.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Even More Vampires at PCA 2009

Jessica's got another report, about yet another session on vampires at the PCA 2009 conference. The Twilight series and Sookie Stackhouse novels are the focus again.

PCA 2009: Romance 1

Another update from Jessica at Read React Review, this time of

2126 Romance I: Romance Authorship I: Tradition and Transformation
Thursday April 9, 2:30 PM - 4:00 PM
Chair: Darcy Martin, East Tennessee State University

―Me, Myself and I: Love as the Integration of Selves in the Romance Fiction of Nora Roberts
By An Goris, KuLeuven, Belgium

―A Gothic Scheherazade: The Heroine as Storyteller
By Angela Toscano, Independent Scholar

Milton, Emerson, Kinsale, Cavell: Thinking Through Flowers from the Storm
By Eric Selinger, DePaul University

―Romance through Faith: The Enduring Stories of Grace Livingston Hill
By Darcy Martin

J. R. Ward's Vampires at PCA 2009

Jessica at Read React Review has got another summary up, this time of two of the papers in session 2015 The Vampire in Literature, Culture, & Film III: Gender, Sexuality, and Colonization
Thursday April 9, 8:00 A.M. – 9:30 A.M.
Chair: Jessica Price, University of Cincinnati

―Lover Revamped: Sexualities and Romance in the Black Dagger Brotherhood and Fan Fiction
By Maria Lindgren Leavenworth, Umeå University

―Heteronormativity and Masculinity: Sexuality and Gender in JR Ward's Black Dagger Brotherhood
By Jessica Price, University of Cincinnati

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Vampires at PCA 2009

Jessica's got a write-up of

PCA session 2059 The Vampire in Literature, Culture, & Film IV: The Sookie Stackhouse Novels (Thursday April 9, 10:00 A.M. – 11:30 A.M.)

―The Vampire Rises . . . Again: True Blood and the Sookie Stackhouse Novels
By Nicole Burkholder-Mosco, Lock Haven University

―Shades of Bromance between Vamps and Weres: Homoerotics and the Trafficking of Women in Sookie Stackhouse and Twilight
By Jennifer Moskowitz, Morningside College

―Casting a Reflection: Vampire as Metaphor for the Changing American Society in Charlaine Harris' Sookie Stackhouse Series
By Eden Leone, Bowling Green State University

The papers weren't about romance, but Jessica mentions that the romance genre was referred to (unfortunately in a less than complimentary way).

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Twittering PCA

Sarah S. G. Frantz

We are all beginning to wend our way to New Orleans for the 2009 Popular Culture Association and American Culture Association Annual Conference. I will be leaving early tomorrow morning and already have lunch, dinner, and after dinner drink plans with other participants.

But before I leave, I want to say that I, at least, will be Twittering the conference. I will use the searchable hashtag #pcaromance (if I remember) for all my PCA Tweets. So just search #pcaromance at
http://search.twitter.com and you'll find my Tweets and hopefully those of @RRRJessica, too! Oh, and Crystal Jordan! And anyone else who Twitters and goes to the romance panels! :)

I will also eventually blog the panels. But I'm not going to make the same promise this year that I did in the previous two years about live-blogging it. It just doesn't work. I will live-Twitter. I will blog afterwards. As, I hope, will Jessica at Racy Romance Reviews.

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Romance and Religion

I've been thinking recently about the ways that romance novels relate to religion, and more specifically about the ways that they deploy religion and religious discourse, whether or not they are "Inspirational" romances per se. Here's what I've come up with so far--and if you can give me any help, I'd be mighty grateful!

1) First off, and most obviously, romance novels can use religious discourse pervasively, in order to advance a particular religious agenda: e.g., Christian inspirational romance. Books like this explain the coincidences, transformations, and other events of the novel in religious terms (they’re providential, quite literally) and they name the type of love that the novel endorses in specifically religious terms (i.e., as an expression of God’s love for us).

In a way, this first use of religious discourse is implicitly dialectical, or at least engaged in an implied argument. It reclaims the strictly Christian meaning of terms that are also used in the quasi-religion of romantic love: salvation, redemption, forgiveness, worship, even "love."

Books like this let the text minister to its reader, or make itself of use in a community of believers in a way that a "secular" or "worldly" romance would not be. But even within such a novel, we can sometimes find moments of tension or counter-discourse, in which the "worldly" meanings of terms reasserts itself. (I think here of the wonderfully romantic moment in Beth Pattillo's Heavens to Betsy where David, the hero, admits that he "worships" the heroine. In the religion of love, the one that Robert Polhemus calls "erotic faith," that makes perfect sense, but in Christian terms it's problematic, even idolatrous.)

2) Romance novels can use religion / religious discourse in order to give a deeper resonance or meaning or importance to the story by recalling the religious roots of Erotic Faith, the Religion of Romantic Love.

They can do this without worrying about or rejecting its potentially heretical nature, as though there were no particular difference between them: e.g., Susan Elizabeth Phillips’s novel Dream a Little Dream, set in a town called Salvation. It's been a while since I read it, so perhaps I'm misremembering, but my recollection was that this was a deeply Christian novel, but not specifically an "inspirational" novel, in part because the book seemed to equate its theology with romantic love.

They can also do this in a way that brings our attention to the potential tension between Christianity and Erotic Faith without resolving the issue in either direction, leaving the tension unresolved. What do I mean by this? Maybe that romance novels sometimes use religious discourse as one of many explanatory frameworks or languages in the book, thus putting it into dialogue with the other ones without choosing among them or endorsing one over another.

They can also exacerbate that tension in order emphasize or play with the heretical nature of the Religion of Romantic Love, putting the novel into dialogue with previous Christian texts precisely in order to highlight the heterodoxy of the new book. (I think here both of something like Crusie's Welcome to Temptation, which alludes to but inverts various Christian topoi, like the Fall, and also of fantasy novels like the first Kushiel trilogy by Jacqueline Carey, which offer a new, imagined religion in competition with Christianity.)

3) Romance novels can use religion and religious discourse to give a deeper resonance or meaning or importance to a particular scene or moment, letting the novel open onto vistas of meaning without guiding the reader into them throughout. Thus Mary Balogh's Slightly Dangerous ends at Easter, which suggests a number of symbolic possibilities, but the novel doesn’t develop them at any length (or so I remember); likewise Joey Hill's Natural Law invokes the language of body and soul, and speaks of Wicca, at crucial moments, but the novel as a whole is not invested in those references. Does this make sense? Is this really a separate category? I'm not sure.

4) Some romance novels offer an imagined or recovered religion as a counterpart / contrast with Christianity. I've mentioned this already, in point two, but I'm wondering if maybe it isn't a whole separate category.

I think here of various Goddess novels that echo the pop-cultural idea of a "Goddess in every woman," from Nora Roberts to P.C. Cast to the Crusie collaboration, Dogs and Goddesses. These are variously serious and comic, but they seem to me connected, not least by a sort of self-help theology.

I also think of novels that imagine a whole pantheon that allows the author to explore issues of gender, etc., on multiple levels in the novel (mythic, superhuman, human, etc.), reclaimic the mythic dimension of romance. The Scribe Virgin & Omega in J. R. Ward's Black Dagger Brotherhood novels and the religion of Elua in the Kushiel books by Carey set each of these novels into dialogue with Christianity, and perhaps in the process they do to Christian discourse what Christian inspirational romances do with the religion of Erotic Faith, contest and revise it?

What am I missing here? Any categories that you can think of that are not in the list? Do any of these overlap so much that they really aren't distinct in any useful way? Any novels that come to mind that use religion or religious discourse in a way that doesn't fit into any of these?

Write up of ARRC 2009

Last year I mentioned that some of the sessions at the Australian Romance Readers Convention (Melbourne 20-22 February 2009 ) would include input from romance scholars. On the programme there was the following:
Saturday 21 February (10.00 am - 10.30am) - Panel discussion: What academics really think about romance fiction— Glen Thomas, Toni Johnson-Woods, Jenny Brassel

Sunday 22 February — Future of romance: Where to from here? Bronwyn Parry, Glen Thomas, Christina Lee (Harlequin Mills And Boon Australia)
Thanks to BookThingo I've now found write-ups of the panel on "what academics really think about romance fiction" and the one about the future of romance.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

PCA Conference 2009 - Coming Up

The full programme is available from the PCA/ACA website, but I've picked out the sessions that deal with romance. As I won't be there myself, this is whetting my appetite for reading the reports from those who will be attending.

2126 Romance I: Romance Authorship I: Tradition and Transformation
Thursday April 9, 2:30 PM - 4:00 PM
Chair: Darcy Martin, East Tennessee State University

―A Gothic Scheherazade: The Heroine as Storyteller
By Angela Toscano, Independent Scholar

―Me, Myself and I: Love as the Integration of Selves in the Romance Fiction of Nora Roberts
By An Goris, KuLeuven, Belgium

―Dancing Barefoot, Painting Dreams: Natural Born Charmer and the Aesthetics of Popular Romance
By Eric Selinger, DePaul University

―Romance through Faith: The Enduring Stories of Grace Livingston Hill
By Darcy Martin

2217 Romance Roundtable: Romance Special Session 1: Teaching the Romance Novel
Thursday, April 9, 8:30 P.M. – 10:00 P.M.
Panel on romance fiction pedagogy led by Eric Selinger and Sarah Frantz. We discuss past experiences, future plans, successes, disasters, and recommendations for bringing popular romance fiction to the classroom. Bring syllabi, assignments, recommendations, hopes, fears, and dreams.

3017 Romance II: Romance Authorship 2: Theories and Practices
Friday, April 10, 8:00 A.M. - 9:30 A.M.
Chair: Darcy Martin, East Tennessee State University

―Romancing History, Historicizing Romance: The Practice of History through
Romance Fiction
By Lauren Willig, Harvard University

―Don't bother me! I'm living MY Happily Ever After: A Heuristic Inquiry into the Experience of Personal Happiness for Career Romance-genre Writers
By Karen Henry, Capella University

―Romance Divas: Understanding an Online Romance Writing community
By Crystal Goldman, University of Utah

―The Transition from Reader to Writer: Romance Fiction Authors' Organizations
By Glen Thomas, Queensland University of Technology

3133 Romance III: The Politics of Romance 1: Sex, Class, Race, Place
Friday, April 10, 2:30 P.M. – 4:00 P.M.
Chair: Darcy Martin, East Tennessee State University

―Complicating the Capitalist: Money and Marriage in Judith McNaught's Contemporary Novels
By Jayashree Kamble, University of Minnesota

Georgette Heyer v. Cathy Maxwell: A Comparative Discussion of Class in the Regency Romance
By Maryan Wherry, Black Hawk College

―Contemporary Black Romance Novels and the Politics of Representation
By Julie Moody-Freeman, DePaul University

―Rip My Bodice: Sex-Positive Culture and the Romance Novel Today
By Catherine Roach, University of Alabama

3196 Romance Special Session 2: Let's Talk Romance: Open Forum
Friday, April 10, 4:30 P.M. – 6:00 P.M.
Chairs: Eric Selinger and Darcy Martin
Conference attendees are invited to an Open Forum on Romance Fiction. We have in attendance a fascinating and eclectic group of romance writers writing in every genre of romance fiction, publishers of romance, romance scholars, and others interested in the genre participating in the panels. This Special Session affords attendees the opportunity to participate in an informal discussion of a variety of topics of interest to the attendees. Please join us. We plan to go out for dinner following the session.

4030 Romance IV: The Politics of Romance 2: In the Ideological Cuddle

Saturday, April 11, 10:00 A.M. – 11:30 A.M.
Chair: Darcy Martin, East Tennessee State University

―The Romance of Pain: Sadomasochism and Power Exchange in Popular Romance Fiction
By Sarah Frantz, Fayetteville State University

―Transcending the Domestic: Cultural Power and Domestic Identity in JD Robb's In Death Series
By Tessa Kostelc, University of Wyoming

―Challenging the '-isms': Gender and Race in Brockman's Troubleshooters Series
By Margaret Haefner, North Park University

―'Til Death Do Us Part': The Institution of Marriage in Megan Hart's Tempted and Stranger
By Glinda Hall, University of Arkansas, Fort Smith

4098 Romance V: Romancing the Arts/The Art of Romance

Saturday, April 11, 2:30 P.M. – 4:00 P.M.
Chair: Darcy Martin, East Tennessee State University

―Turning Japanese: A Case Study of Harlequin's Romance Manga
By Toni Johnson-Woods, University of Queensland

―Someone's in the Kitchen with Agnes: Cooking up a Recipe for Romance Writing in Agnes and the Hitman
By Jessica Van Slooten, University of Wisconsin-Manitowoc

―Born to Love: The Pasts (or not) of the Heroes and Heroines of the Romance Novel
By Pam Rosenthal, Romance Author

―Love Eternal: The Persistence and Flexibility of the Love Story in Cinematic Storytelling
By Phil Mathews, Bournemouth University

4127 Romance VI: Vampire Lovers and Others: Romance, Revision, and Myth
Saturday, April 11, 4:30 P.M. – 6:00 P.M.
Session Chair: Darcy Martin, East Tennessee State University

―The Intersection of Moral and Romantic Identities in Charlaine Harris' Southern Vampire Mysteries
By Jessica Miller, University of Maine

―Embedded Pieces: An Exploration of Romance in L.A. Banks' Vampire Huntress Series
By Glenda L. Allen-Jones, Southern University at New Orleans

―Deadly Love: Conflict and Paradigms in Vampire Romance Novels
By Jennifer Crowley, Davidson College

―Mythology Mashup: The Paranormal Romance Mix
By Amber Botts, Neodesha, Kansas High School

There are a few other sessions which include papers on romances/works of romantic fiction. I've possibly missed a few, but the ones I spotted were as follows:

2015 The Vampire in Literature, Culture, & Film III: Gender, Sexuality, and Colonization
Thursday April 9, 8:00 A.M. – 9:30 A.M.
Chair: Jessica Price, University of Cincinnati

―Lover Revamped: Sexualities and Romance in the Black Dagger Brotherhood and Fan Fiction
By Maria Lindgren Leavenworth, Umeå University

―Heteronormativity and Masculinity: Sexuality and Gender in JR Ward's Black Dagger Brotherhood
By Jessica Price, University of Cincinnati

2059 The Vampire in Literature, Culture, & Film IV: The Sookie Stackhouse Novels
Thursday April 9, 10:00 A.M. – 11:30 A.M.
Chair: Heide Crawford, University of Kansas

―Casting a Reflection: Vampire as Metaphor for the Changing American Society in Charlaine Harris' Sookie Stackhouse Series
By Eden Leone, Bowling Green State University

―The Vampire Rises . . . Again: True Blood and the Sookie Stackhouse Novels
By Nicole Burkholder-Mosco, Lock Haven University

―Shades of Bromance between Vamps and Weres: Homoerotics and the Trafficking of Women in Sookie Stackhouse and Twilight
By Jennifer Moskowitz, Morningside College

―The Vampire Who Loved Me: The Modern Vampire Hero in Stephanie Meyers' Twilight Series and Charlaine Harris's Sookie Stackhouse Series
By Heide Crawford

2078 Science Fiction & Fantasy VII: Gender, Romance, and What It Means to Be(come) a Woman
Thursday April 9, 10:00 A.M. – 11:30 A.M.
Chair: Janice C. Crosby, Southern University, Baton Rouge

―Performing Gender, Performing Romance: Pixar's WALL-E
By Carol A. Bernard, Northeast Lakeview College

―From Courtesan to Companion to Avatar: Sexuality and Divinity in Jacqueline Carey's Kushiel Novels
By Janice C. Crosby