Saturday, June 21, 2014

Past & Present: Greek Romance

Since it's the last day of the IASPR conference, being held in Thessaloniki, here's a Greek-themed link to a recent article by Kirsten Day on the relevance of one of the oldest surviving romance novels, Longus' Daphnis and Chloe. The article argues that,
Despite a chronological gulf of nearly two thousand years, the second century C.E. Greek romance writer Longus and the early twentieth century Irish novelist Henry de Vere Stacpoole were prompted to produce their best works by a similar motive: an urge to explore the world, and particularly the phenomenon of love and desire, from a standpoint of complete innocence. Although the resulting novels, Daphnis & Chloe and The Blue Lagoon respectively, have no evident direct connection, they exhibit surprising similarities not only in plot, setting, and characterization, but also in the values, perspectives, and worldviews they advance. The striking intersections between these two chronologically and geographically diverse works offer us a lens for examining persistent notions of “natural” versus learned masculinity and femininity, for exploring the dynamics behind patriarchal power structures, and for scrutinizing how these issues relate to ideas about the value and merits of civilization. [...] this comparison helps to drive home the persistence of ideologies and power structures that initially seem remote.
Day, Kirsten. "Experiments in Love: Longus' Daphnis & Chloe and Henry de Vere Stacpoole's The Blue Lagoon." Dialogue 1.1 (2014).

Friday, June 20, 2014

Update from the 2014 IASPR Conference

Jodi McAlister's written up a report on the first day of the conference. Here's a taster:
Angela Toscano looked at ancient Greek romance (appropriate, given the conference’s setting!) The Ethiopian Story and read it against twentieth century romance The Windflower, painting a fascinating picture of the way the romance has evolved from being what she called a “romance of adventure” to a “romance of courtship”, the two texts featuring similar tropes but entirely different story arcs. One point she made that I really liked was that romance is in many senses the opposite of epic – while epic is largely concerned with the death of heroes, romance is in many ways about rebirth.

Lesley Ann Smith discussed the theories that many romance writers are familiar with and draw upon when constructing their novels, including Kim Hudson’s notion of the 13-beat virgin’s archetypal journey [...]. This led to a very interesting discussion about the way academic attempts to codify or define the romance are sometimes appropriated as guidelines – for instance, Pamela Regis’ eight elements of the romance novel (from A Natural History of the Romance Novel) being drawn upon by writers in order to better structure their novel. This was a crossover between academia and creative practice that I hadn’t really thought about before – I’d love to know how/if/to what extent authors use scholarly work when they write!

One paper that might be particularly ripe for this kind of mobilisation in the future is Catherine Roach’s, who proposed another alternative (but not incompatible) nine elements for understanding the romance novel, concerned with deep structural priorities – that is, the core claims romance makes about love – rather than formal plot features. This was fascinating and nuanced and I don’t have time to reproduce her argument here (especially because it’s part of a book she has coming out next year which I will definitely be reading), but one claim she made that really resonated with me is that romance is essentially about the word “love” as a verb – that the romance story can be summed up as “find your true love and live happily ever after”.
You can read the rest here.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

New Review of New Approaches

I was pleased to see a review of New Approaches to Popular Romance Fiction in the June issue of the Journal of American Culture and the contents were even more gratifying. Carrie Marjorie Peirce concludes with the following statement:
All scholars of popular culture should read this sophisticated and rigorous volume even if they never intend to pick up Fifty Shades of Grey or a romance trilogy by Nora Roberts. The essays in the volume are refreshing: they offer a variety of feminist critique, explore the many subgenres within romance fiction, and, most importantly, demonstrate a genuine appreciation for the fans and writers of the genre. New Approaches to Popular Romance Fiction — Critical Essays are model studies of popular culture and should interest all scholars of fiction and literature — popular or otherwise.
Peirce praises the introduction, for offering "a fascinating, comprehensive, and surprisingly concise history of scholarship on popular romance fiction," and gives a brief outline of the contents of the "Seventeen remarkably erudite and instructive essays."

Peirce, Carrie Marjorie. Review of New Approaches to Popular Romance Fiction: Critical Essays. Ed. Sarah S. G. Frantz and Eric Murphy Selinger.  Journal of American Culture 37.2 (2014): 237-38.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Updates to the Romance Wiki Bibliography

I'd been adding new entries to the Romance Wiki Bibliography, watching as Christina Martinez adds some, and only mentioning a few of them here, on Twitter or at my blog because I couldn't write up responses to them all. I've decided that, in future, every so often I'll post updates at Teach Me Tonight. Some of the items may not be easily available but, if nothing else, it's good to be able to see the quantity and range of the work being produced on popular romance. Occasionally there will be older items which had slipped through unnoticed until recently or which have recently been put online.


Cawelti, John. "Romance: The Once and Future Queen." The Wilson Quarterly 2.3 (1978): 102-109. [Here are a couple of excerpts at my blog. An excerpt of the first page is available via JSTOR here.]

Frederick, Rhonda. "Making Jamaican Love: Colin Channer's Waiting in Vain and Romance-ified Diaspora Identities." Small Axe: A Caribbean Journal Of Criticism 17.3 (2013): 63-84. [This "essay asks, What can a romance novel teach us about being in a Caribbean diaspora?" and here's the full abstract.]
Kania, Richard R. E. "Pirates and Piracy in American Popular Culture." Romanian Journal of English Studies 11.1 (2014): 183–194.  [Includes a section on "Daphné du Maurier and the Romance Novel Pirate." Abstract and full Pdf available here.
Nilson, Maria. "From The Flame and the Flower to Fifty Shades of Grey: Sex, Power and Desire in the Romance Novel," Akademisk Kvarter/Academic Quarter 7 (2013): 119-131. [Available in full.]
Novak, Julia. "Nell Gwyn in Contemporary Romance Novels: Biography and the Dictates of 'Genre Literature'." Contemporary Women's Writing.

Roach, Catherine. " 'Going Native': Aca-Fandom and Deep Participant Observation in Popular Romance Studies." Mosaic 47.2 (2014): 33-49. [Roach discusses how she combines being an academic, a fan of romance, and a romance author. Abstract and excerpt]

Selinger, Eric Murphy. "My Metatextual Romance: Thinking With (and About) Jaane Tu Ya Janne Na." Mosaic 47.2: 51-66. ["Scholars of popular romance fiction have begun to credit the genre with political and aesthetic self-consciousness, a “metatextual turn” that parallels changes in the academic reception of Hindi popular cinema." Abstract and excerpt]
Sonnet, Esther. " 'Erotic Fiction by Women for Women': The Pleasures of Post-Feminist Heterosexuality." Sexualities 2.2 (1999):167-187. ["This article addresses the material construction of female heterosexuality through examination of the mass marketing of women’s pornography - ‘erotic fiction for women by women’ as exemplified by Virgin Publishing’s Black Lace imprint." It's available in full.]
Sonnet, Esther. "What the Woman Reads: Categorising Contemporary Popular Erotica for Women." Consuming for Pleasure: Selected Essays on Popular Fiction. Ed. Julia Hallam and Nickianne Moody. Liverpool: Liverpool John Moores UP and the Association for Research in Popular Fictions, 2000. 246-267. [This article is also available in full and it could be considered an expanded version of the previous one. It puts the Black Lace erotica in the context of other fiction for women with sexual content, including romance "bodice-rippers," and discusses the ways in which these texts are classified/assigned to particular genres/subgenres.]

Sonnet, Esther. "'"Just a book", she said ...': Refiguring Ethnography for the Female Readers of Sexual Fiction." The Audience Studies Reader. Ed. Will Brooker & Deborah Jermyn. London: Routledge, 2002. 254-273. [Available in full]
Tang, Yang. "Between Fantasy and Reality: Time-Travel Romance and Media Fandom in Chinese Cyberspace." MA Thesis, Simon Fraser University, 2014. [Available in full]
Tapper, Olivia. "Romance and Innovation in Twenty-First Century Publishing." Publishing Research Quarterly 30.2 (2014): 249-59. [I discussed this at my blog. Abstract here.]