Having gained the Key of Knowledge, I hope you'll Savor the Moment, An!
Disclaimer: the misuse of the NR seal should not be taken as an indication that Nora Roberts has begun awarding doctorates.
The deadline is approaching (Dec. 1, 2011) for you to apply for the Romance Writers of America’s research grant program, which is designed to “support theoretical and substantive academic research about genre romance texts and literacy practices” and to “encourage a well-informed public discourse about genre romance texts and literacy practices.” You can apply for up to $5000 USD. [...] You’ve probably met or heard of a few of the recent grant recipients, including:
Dr. Heather Schell (2011)—currently in Turkey, studying romance readersThe RWA state that
Dr. Joanna Gregson and Dr. Jennifer Lois (2011)—studying the culture of romance writers
Consuela Francis (2010)—studying “Textual Pleasure and Female Sexual Agency in Contemporary African American Romance and Erotica”
Pamela Regis (2010)—working on her history of American romance fiction, 1742-present.
Previous recipients include Catherine Roach (2009), Sarah S. G. Frantz (2008), Stephanie Harzewski (2007), whose book on chick lit came out last year, Jayashree Kamble (2005), and me (2006). [...] The program is open to faculty, independent scholars with established publication records, and dissertation candidates who have completed all course work and qualifying exams. If you’ve applied in the past, unsuccessfully, I hope you’ll consider taking another shot—and if you’ve already won funding, and brought that work to publication, you can apply again, as long as four years have passed.
Appropriate fields of specialization include but are not limited to: anthropology, communications, cultural studies, education, English language and literature, gender studies, linguistics, literacy studies, psychology, rhetoric, and sociology. Proposals in interdisciplinary and cross-disciplinary studies are welcome. The ultimate goal of proposals should be significant publication in major journals or as a monograph from an academic press.-----
a founder of what once was the world's largest publishing house of literature about gays and lesbians, has died. She was 78. Her partner in life and business, Donna McBride, said [...] "It was her belief that through literature she could make lesbians feel good about themselves and find a happy life" [...]. Most of their titles were romances and mysteries, McBride said. (Kaczor)As June Thomas writes in Slate's culture blog,
in 1973 she and her partner, Donna McBride, founded Naiad Press, which was one of the first and most successful lesbian publishing houses of the 20th century. Although mostly known for light fiction—there was a template for Naiad books: conflict, romance, and a happy ending—the press also published works by Gertrude Stein and Renee Vivien, as well as occasional nonfiction, notably its most high-profile and successful book, Lesbian Nuns: Breaking Silence.Victoria Brownworth recalls that
There were many complaints about Naiad over the years–that it was just a lesbian version of Harlequin (to which I always responded, “So?”), that the books were always romances with happy endings or mysteries with cozy Agatha Christie endings. But Grier said repeatedly that what she wanted was to reach the lesbians in Middle America who were in the closet and who deserved to have books about their lives, too.Karin Kallmaker, a romance author who was published by Naiad and who is now Editorial Director of Bella Books, the successor to Naiad, explains the press's importance:
To understand the contribution that Barbara and Donna made to lesbian books one has to be capable of imagining a world that had none. Rather, what lesbian books there were had been hidden, disguised and coded. A lesbian lucky enough to find pulp paperbacks at the bus station featuring a brooding brunette and the sunny blonde on the cover had found lesbians in books, but not lesbian books. With very few, notable exceptions such as Ann Bannon's Beebo Brinker titles, they founds stories about despair and ruin. Those books were read and left behind, because it wasn't safe for most women to be discovered reading them. The reader was left more certain than ever that her life was doomed.
There were no mysteries with lesbian detectives. No romances with happy women choosing lives together. No warriors, no princesses, no heroes (only villains). No literature that could be discussed in polite society. Then, out of a hotbed birthed by the early feminist and gay liberation movements, the Stonewall riots, and the meetings of notable minds who networked by letter because no one could afford phone calls, there was an explosion of lesbian books. In the middle of that explosion, and going on to survive the rigors of publishing the longest, was Naiad. Naiad published poetry, literary works and, thank goodness, popular fiction. Finally, lesbians could see themselves in the books. They saw themselves deserving happiness. Deserving respect. Deserving futures. Deserving to live.
@eloisajames: "Sex acts, social identity, and the state of the field in romance scholarship."
Romance scholarship is in a good state, according to
"ebook sales make up for lost paper sales" That's
@eloisajames' experience. Describing how the publishing industry (and, obviously, romance publishing industry) is in flux and extreme change.
Squabbling over boundaries of romance is a waste of time. Romance is about the hidden order of the world. Love at heart of maze. Genre is undefinable. Mutable is difficult to write about for romance scholarship.
Quoting romance scholarship article about vampires and how the article doesn't specify pub dates of books = bad scholarship. Paranormal rules about "fated mates" has changed. Scholarship has to be specific to pub dates and not make sweeping statements.
Pet peeve of
@eloisajames is scholarship that throws around word "patriarchy." Patriarchy is mutable. Scholarship needs to address specific discourses about "patriarchy."
Romance novels' engagement w/ history particularly fraught in relation to historical romance. "My heroes generally have equipment the size of the Hubble telescope." "Bodice rippers" specific term for historical romance novels from 1980s, says
@eloisajames. (I'd say 1970s, early 1980s, actually.) "Eroticism is culturally specific and we write sex from our own attitudes and mores. Can't be 'historically accurate.'" Keep two viewpoints: 1. author and voice, and 2. specific cultural moment in which book was written.
@eloisajames is stunned when romance scholars make arguments about an author w/o looking at website/shooting them email. Bestsellers built from strong emotions. @eloisajames wrote 5th Desperate Duchess book from "bedrock of truth" of worry over husband. "Romances live or die on strong emotions." You're going to find author utterly exposed behind book. That's not "cultural."
Rules dictating genre are not necessarily stronger than the specific author's oeuvre. Critics: "Iron-clad grip of genre" trivializes individualism of texts. Standardization does not sacrifice individualism.
@eloisajames compared w/ Gabriel Garcia Marquez by reader, as an insult. also been compared w/ Nicholas Sparks as an insult. But they're both selling really well, so...
Readers create their own novel in the intersection of readers' experience and the novel itself. What author is + does is changing, so it's important for scholars to be in touch w/ authors. [FASCINATING: been slammed for this.] Social media is commodifying the charisma of the author. Before: author's job ended w/ final draft. Not now. On social platforms. Books change according to reader feedback. Characters change over a series b/c of feedback.
Greatest shadow that clings to romance: cultural capital. "Capital enables one to maintain status in heirarchy." Romance doesn't seem to have very much cultural capital, certainly doesn't have much cultural cache. But it has money. No romance reader will rise in her cultural heirarchy based on what is termed her "addiction."
@eloisajames' Beast based on House from TV show, but Beauty was based on J. Alfred Prufrock. Heroine dying in "chambers of sea." Cultural capital of DUKE OF MINE: based on Princess and Pea fairytale (mattresses and pea). Hero on Asperger's scale.
Teach a vampire book from each of 1988, 1995, 2003 and talk about how the mating rituals change.
Nobody can steal or plagiarize a voice and that's what doesn't change. Wld be interesting to teach students to look for voice.
Question: putting too much weight on romance to focus on cultural capital?
@EloisaJames: Don't talk about "genre," focus on author.
McDaniel College a $100,000 grant to help advance research and study of romance literature, establish an academic minor in the genre fiction and launch an online creative writing course in romance fiction.It had been stated that "Pedagogy, the teaching of romance, will be an important focus of the conference" but all the same, when reading the abstracts of the papers to be presented, I was struck by how many are about the teaching of romance fiction and left feeling very hopeful about the future of popular romance studies.
As a graduate teaching fellow at Harvard, I have taught sections of a course called “The Romance,” which examines women’s genre fiction such as the Harlequin and “chick lit,” along with works by Austen, the Brontë sisters, and DuMaurier. Based on my teaching experiences, I would like to explore why teaching romance fiction matters; what we can learn from students’ responses; and how we can address the issues of women, gender, and sexuality while studying the romance.William Gleason - “Teaching Romance in the Popular American Literature Survey”
I have been teaching “American Best Sellers,” an upper–level undergraduate survey course on American popular writing, since the mid–1990s. Moving from the colonial period to the present, the course examines roughly one text and historical period per week while simultaneously introducing students to a broad range of genres, including the tale of seduction, the sentimental novel, children’s fiction, the western, the detective novel, the adventure series, and (with increasing emphasis in recent syllabi) contemporary romance fiction. In this talk I will discuss the challenges of (and opportunities for) teaching romance as one among many genres in the popular lit survey.Glinda F. Hall - “Teaching Romance/Teaching Sex: Classroom Challenges and Pedagogical Pursuits”
In spring 2010, I taught a senior–level English course titled “Beyond Heaving Bosoms: Women’s Popular Romance Fiction.” My plan was to focus on the history and heritage of popular romance fiction, with particular attention paid to gender dynamics and power structures at work in both the content and the reception of this genre of popular fiction. However, I soon learned that another topic was inescapable, and apparently more relevant to my students: sex. It then became clear that a significant portion of the course needed to address issues of sexuality, especially our culture’s view of women’s sexuality and how these are related to other issues: gender representation, power dynamics, political contexts, and economic realities for our contemporary society. In this presentation, I will discuss the practical exigencies of “teaching sex” in the context of popular romance fiction, as well as the intellectual questions that such pedagogy raises about how we teach and study literature.Jayashree Kamble - “Romancing the Canon: Teaching ‘Literary’ Texts with Romance”
Classic literature and genre fiction intersect more often than literary critics and students might realize. Therefore, even though popular romance is unarguably a distinct genre with its own parameters, it can also be taught alongside canonical texts. While courses that focus exclusively on romance fiction can subject the genre to a scrutiny that it both merits and can withstand, courses that combine romance and high literature make a different case for including the genre in the field of literary studies. For instance, pairing Conrad’s Heart of Darkness with Linda Howard’s Heart of Fire creates room to discuss issues of exoticism in both, while also affording a chance to examine the aesthetics of the Victorian novella and popular romance. Similarly, a course that contains Henry James's The Turn of the Screw and Jennifer Crusie’s adaptation of it in Maybe This Time, allows for a discussion on authorial style as well as the signifiers of the horror and romance genres.Antonia Losano - “Sneaking it in at the end: Introducing Popular Romance into the Small College Classroom”
Mounting innovative new courses on popular culture is always challenging, but the endeavor has particular tensions in a small English department at a small Liberal Arts college. If I were to offer a course solely on popular romance, either one of the gateway courses, or a seminal survey, or the Victorian literature course wouldn’t get taught that year (and if English majors can’t get the courses they need to graduate, parents who are spending over $50,000 a year on this education start complaining). My contention, however, is that this constraint can be intensely productive for the study and teaching of popular romance, which need not be lost–it must simply be incorporated.Eric Selinger - “You Teach a Whole Course on Popular Romance? Who? How? Why? Now What?”
Instead of being taught in a stand–alone course, romances can and should, I argue, be folded into the fabric of the academic canon. A course just on popular romance runs the risk of isolating and marginalizing the popular romance–as if we were trying to keep it from infecting the Beowulf to Virginia Woolf survey, for example. It has been my strategy to include at least one popular romance novel into the syllabus of each course I teach, encouraging students to realize that the boundaries between romance fiction and “canonical” fiction are more permeable than critics of the former would like. In this conference paper I hope to offer suggestions on ways to engage with the popular romance in academic courses within the context of literary history.
In the fall of 2005 I taught DePaul University’s first course exclusively devoted to popular romance fiction: a gen–ed survey that ran from E.M. Hull’s The Sheik to the then–new Bet Me by Jennifer Crusie. I have since taught over 25 popular romance courses, from undergraduate surveys to graduate seminars, including a 10–week class on Laura Kinsale’s Flowers from the Storm; the novels range from inspirational to LGBTQ and erotic romances, and include both category and single–title texts. My talk will discuss the practicalities of classes devoted exclusively to popular romance fiction (course design, assignments and helpful secondary readings, issues in classroom dynamics), as well as the aesthetic and literary–historical questions raised by introducing such courses into a fairly conservative English department, one in which popular romance remains the abjected Other of “literature.”
Public amusements, especially those of the Drama are calculated to give us an insight into the taste and manners of a nation; in popular Tragedies, we trace the refinement of the passions; Comedies are often satires on existing follies and fashions of the times; and even Pantomimes generally exhibit caricatures of the frivolities of the day. (61)Although Ryley focuses on drama, the idea that cultural works in some way respond to, or give insight into, the "taste and manners of a nation" is one that has been widely accepted. Here's what John G. Cawelti had to say about the issue in his Adventure, Mystery, and Romance (1976):
Certain story archetypes particularly fufill man’s needs for enjoyment and escape. [...] But in order for these patterns to work, they must be embodied in figures, settings, and situations that have appropriate meanings for the culture which produces them. One cannot write a successful adventure story about a social character type that the culture cannot conceive in heroic terms; this is why we have so few adventure stories about plumbers, janitors, or streetsweepers. It is, however, certainly not inconceivable that a culture might emerge which placed a different sort of valuation or interpretation on these tasks, in which case we might expect to see the evolution of adventure story formulas about them. (6)Now maybe I'm going to be guilty of making some generalisations to go along with the assumptions, but it seems to me that although I have come across some romance heroes who are carpenters and builders, they're usually depicted as small business owners (even if these are one-person businesses). I don't recall having read a romance which featured a hero who worked in a foundry, down a mine, or on an assembly-line. The only janitor hero I've encountered is to be found in LaVyrle Spencer's Then Came Heaven (here's an AAR review which gives an overview of the characters and setting). I suspect this novel is one of the exceptions which proves the rule that romance heroes are generally not employed in the kinds of proletarian jobs which would be celebrated in socialist realist statues of the kind pictured above.1 I'm fairly sure that socialist realist art also has professions that the artists "cannot conceive in heroic terms."
can’t remember exactly where the idea sprang from originally, but I know that I was thinking something along the lines of: what would be one of the most unforgivable things a woman/mother could do? For me, it would definitely be to walk away from her baby, or child.We may know it's "never as black and white as that" but judging by the characterisations of romance heroes and heroines a double standard does seem to exist around the issue.
Men seem to get away with doing that a lot easier than women in many cases, but for a woman to turn her back on her baby? It’s extremely hard to forgive, after all, women are all hardwired to be the nurturers aren’t they?
Well, of course we all know it’s never as black and white as that.
The sound of his voice made her heart sing, but she was still afraid. When he'd begun making love to her in her bedroom the other night she had lost control within seconds; had been going crazy, burning up with desire as he touched her.I think it would be safe to assume that the heroine is listing here some typical components of what might be considered the kind of truly "romantic" setting that is deemed particularly conducive getting a woman in a receptive mood for sexual activity. Phillip Vannini has observed that
She wanted him now, in the cold light of day, in her office, sitting at her desk. It wasn't necessary to have moonlight, or music, or for her to have been drinking wine ... The desire she felt was constant, instinctive, deep. (157, emphasis added)
Romantic love is one of the defining sentiments of our culture. [...] As production and consumption have expanded, mass communication has been transmitting to the public a visual idea of love as a spectacle. The romanticization of commodities occurs when media portray certain products and services as romantic. A cheap fast-food meal is not romantic, but the consumption of a candle-lit three-course meal at a French restaurant is. [...] Beside self-expression, romance allowed those who had learned to consume it properly to feel liberated from the drudgery of work. This is the image of the "date" as an outing to a restaurant, a movie theater, or a romantic getaway at the seaside or at a luxurious (and romantic) hotel. (171)Again, I think there tend to be gender-related assumptions about the efficacy of romantic gestures and settings. The romance genre, and ideas about women's sexuality, have moved on since Germaine Greer wrote that "Flowers, little gifts, love-letters, maybe poems to her eyes and hair, candlelit meals on moonlit terraces and muted strings. Nothing hasty, physical [...] Mystery, magic, champagne, ceremony, tenderness, excitement, adoration, reverence – women never have enough of it" (173) but there is perhaps still a lingering impression that women need to be coaxed and wooed into having sexual feelings, or may be very occasionally overwhelmed by immense passion if they meet The One, whereas the common misperception, debunked by Snopes, is that "men think about sex every seven seconds" and, presumably, have no need of romantic music, wine, moonlight etc in order to get in the mood.
people sometimes spoke of civilization as if it were itself a racial trait, inherited by all Anglo-Saxons and other "advanced" white races.This stereotype does not seem to have entirely disappeared:
Gender, too, was an essential component of civilization. Indeed, one could identify advanced civilizations by the degree of their sexual differentiation. [...] Civilized women were womanly - delicate, spiritual, dedicated to the home. And civilized white men were the most manly ever evolved - firm of character; self-controlled; protectors of women and children. In contrast, gender differences among savages seemed to be blurred. Savage women were aggressive, carried heavy burdens, and did all sorts of "masculine" hard labor. (Bederman 25)
According to essayists in “Critical Studies in Media Communication,” one of the things that reality television producers tend to do is to choose contestants, manipulate situations and use editing to reinforce racial stereotypes.-----------
In an October 2008 issue devoted to the subject, theorist Robin Boylorn argued that black women are recruited and their content edited to conform to images through the history of movies and television. One predominant stereotype is the black woman as “aggressive, loud, rude and pushy. Other negative images include divas, hoochies, weepers, waifs, antagonizers, shrills, welfare queens and freaks.” (Cummings)
Cesare Stea's 1939 relief Assembling for a sewage-disposal plant in Queens [...]. It shows four men working together on a length of sewage pipe. Their shirtsleeves are rolled up and their pants are tight, so that their muscular frames are accentuated. [...] Such an image is clearly meant to celebrate the New Deal's emphasis on putting Americans back to work, and its egalitarian rhetoric. (Anreus, Linden & Weinberg 121)The first image is a cropped version of William Bell Scott's painting, Iron and Coal, which can be seen in its entirety at The Victorian Web. The photo of the "construction and industry statue on the Green Bridge, Vilnius [...] Lithuania" is from Wikimedia Commons, though again, I've done a bit of cropping. The third image is Giovanni Battista Moroni's The Tailor,
The portrait is a late work, probably around 1570, and the most famous of Moroni's portraits [...].I found this particular photo of the painting at Wikimedia Commons.
The colourful costume of the tailor is contrasted with the black material marked with chalk lines that he prepares to cut. Most of the sitters in Moroni's later portraits are dressed in black in the Spanish fashion that persisted into the following century. The tailor's head, lit from above to the left, dominates the painting, the eyes, as in the majority of Moroni's portraits, looking directly at the spectator with shrewd appraisal. (National Gallery)
|But not at Occupy London?
In the throes of a double-dip recession and the wake of the Dot-Com crash, we seek proposals for an edited collection tentatively titled Bust Culture: Notes from the Great Recession, with completed essays due in Winter 2012. We are soliciting articles on cultural artifacts from all forms of media (televisual, cinematic, literary, musical, as well as videogames, websites, fine art) that reflect, refract, and/or respond to the recessionary times of the 21st century. Considering that the current economic downturn is ongoing, we hope this collection offers a timely foray into comprehending contemporary “bust culture.” Possible topics include but are not limited to:I doubt we'll be seeing romances titled The Greek Tycoon's Bankrupt Economy, The Billionaire's Tax Avoidance Scheme or The Sheikh's Arab Spring but taking some inspiration from an older Mills & Boon title, I went off to see if there might be some stories or images related to "Bust Culture" which could inspire romance authors.
* Television (Critical-Realist, Reactionary, Reality: Breaking Bad, Pawn Stars, etc.)
* Films (Up in the Air, Wall St. 2, Larry Crowne, Horrible Bosses, etc.)
* Documentary Responses (Capitalism: A Love Story, Inside Job, etc.)
* Satirical News Sources (The Onion, The Daily Show, The Colbert Report, etc.)
* CEO Portraits, Corporate Personhood, and White-Collar Crime
* Informal Economies, Black Markets, Prison Culture, Narcocultura
* Migrant Workers, Immigration, and Outsourcing
* Unions, Union-Busting, and the Legacy of Ronald Reagan
* Neoliberalism (Harvey), “Disaster Capitalism” (Klein), and Tea Party Politics
* “House Hunters” and Other Forms of Wealth Voyeurism
* “Mancession” and Blue-Collar Nostalgia
* Women in the New Economy
* Race and Racism in the Great Recession
* End of the “American Century”
* Bubbles (housing, dot.com, gold, energy)
* Financialization, Derivatives, and Computerized Stock Trading
* Cognitive Mappings of Bust Geography and Architecture
* Consumption: Advertising, Shopping, Fashion, and Marketing Trends
* DIY (Do-It-Yourself) Culture
* Religion and Apocalyptic Discourse
* Sports as Big Business
We aim to assemble a diverse collection of academically rigorous pieces accessible to the general public (non-academics are encouraged to submit). For further information, visit www.bustculture.com and https://twitter.com/#!/BustCulture. Please direct all queries, questions, and submissions to email@example.com.
Impoverished husband-hunter Kitty Wythenshawe knows what she must achieve by the end of her London season - marriage to a wealthy gentleman will save her mother from a life of drudgery. After all, love doesn't pay the bills. (Back Cover)This being a historical romance published by Mills & Boon, Kitty ends up with both love and "marriage to a wealthy gentleman" but there is also some exploration of the fact that some accumulate wealth by exploiting others. As Sarah Mallory explains in an author's note:
Kitty and Daniel's story led me to some of the darker aspects of late-eighteenth-century society. The Abolition movement was gaining pace, with Anti-Slavery Societies being set up around the United Kingdom. [...] This was also an age when children were often exploited, but some mill owners were against this - for example Robert Owen, who built the New Lanark Mills in Scotland, introduced the revolutionary idea that children should not be allowed to work in the mills before the age of ten. For the sake of historical accuracy I could not remove children altogether from Daniel's mills, but as a forward-thinking employer he does have schools and nursery buildings for the children of his workers and apprentices.I wonder if there's any chance we'll see more romances based on these "real heroes of the time" and if, in contemporaries, there might even be some changes among the ranks of those who, in fictional form, are deemed to represent the "real heroes" of our own time.
Kitty and Daniel are a forward-thinking couple, and have very liberal views, but they are based on real characters - people who really did strive to improve the lot of the factory workers, and who fought for the abolition of the slave trade even though it was a risk to their own livelihood. The real heroes of the time.
You can chain mewas taken by David Shankbone at "Zuccotti Park on Tuesday, October 25, Day 40 of Occupy Wall Street" and was downloaded from Flikr under a Creative Commons licence. The photo of the man holding a banner saying "Economic injustice is not beautiful #OccupyWallStreet" was also taken by David Shankbone and was also downloaded from Flikr under a Creative Commons licence.
You can torture me
You can even destroy
But you will never
Imprison my mind - Gandhi
I am the 99%
Half of me admires the dance (apart from the skateboard guy), but the other half of me thinks: “Awkward.”
I don’t know how to articulate how I feel about this piece fetishising objects that are usually associated with hospitals or people with disabilities. I think my stance is mostly negative, because it indirectly objectifies people with disabilities. I know the public tends to view people with disabilities as asexual (which annoys me), but for something like this when choreographer Marie Chouinard says she wants to express and sexualise the beauty of objects used by people with disablities? It doesn’t work for me, I think.Similar issues are raised in Jane's post at Dear Author today about the representations in romance novels of the bodies of characters who depart "from the established Caucasian able-bodied norm." She begins by recounting a discussion with Smart Bitch Sarah about a novel in which Jane felt that the heroine's
disfigurement is largely an accessory and not well integrated into the heroine’s character arc. I felt that the inclusion of disfigured heroines, even when poorly done, was a step forward. Sarah disagreed.The ensuing discussion provides plenty of food for thought and demonstrates that there are romances which could be analysed in response to the following call for papers:
Proteus: A Journal of Ideas seeks submissions for our upcoming issue, “Representing the Body in Culture and Society.” We are soliciting articles and creative works from a wide range of disciplines that reflect upon the issue’s theme. We are particularly interested in work that focuses on the body from a Disability Studies perspective, though submissions from all disciplines are welcome. We are looking for broad theoretical inquiries, individual case studies, and traditional scholarly articles on the subject of the body, as well as theme-related photographs, poetry, and creative writing. Full Essays Due by January 15, 2012.-----