Friday, November 11, 2011

Tweets from the New Millennium

Yesterday's "Keynote Address by Professor Mary Bly/NYT Bestselling Author Eloisa James" was live-tweeted from the Popular Romance in the New Millennium conference being held at McDaniel College. There will be more tweets today. If you'd like to follow them, the hashtag being used is , or if you aren't on twitter, you can read them online here.

I thought I'd copy out the relevant bits of yesterday's tweets (authored by Sarah Frantz), to keep them for posterity and in case anyone would like to discuss the keynote address:
Introducing : "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 ' 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 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 . (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.

. is stunned when romance scholars make arguments about an author w/o looking at website/shooting them email. Bestsellers built from strong emotions. 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.

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."

' 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? : Don't talk about "genre," focus on author.


  1. That's a good collection of tweets. Thank you

  2. Thanks so much for sharing this! I find it odd that anyone would compare a romance novelist with a Nobel Prize winner and consider that an insult. Also, I really appreciated Ms. James' comment about patriarchy being mutable. Wish my students would pay attention.

  3. I've always felt that the story, romance in particular, is a snapshot of part of the author's soul. He/she has to pour so much of their own emotional content into the pages to make it believable (in a genre that requires suspension of disbelief).
    Romance does have to be culturally relevant or it is just another boy met girl and will fizzle. Unfortunately the happily ever after promised in each book keeps it from ever becoming the voice of an age - unless you want to evaluate the escapist aspects during a recession.

  4. Unfortunately the happily ever after promised in each book keeps it from ever becoming the voice of an age - unless you want to evaluate the escapist aspects during a recession.

    I'm not sure I understand what you're getting at here, Erin; the happily ever afters aren't identical, so there's no reason why they, too, can't reflect their "age." Do you mean that the need for a happy ending means that they're not the best vehicle for voicing disillusionment with the age's ideals?