Tuesday, May 11, 2021

New Publications: on paranormal, historical, Muslim, erotic, teenage and Kindle romances, among other things

Burke, Nicola, 2020. Mills and Fur: Feminism and Femininity in the Supernatural Romance. PhD, Western Sydney University. [Available for download.]

González-Cruz, María-Isabel, 2021. "On the Discoursive Construction of the Spanish Hero in Intercultural Romances." International Handbook of Love: Transcultural and Transdisciplinary Perspectives, Ed. Claude-Hélène Mayer and Elisabeth Vanderheiden. Cham: Springer. 749-767. [Abstract here.]

Hackett, Lisa J. and Jo Coghlan, Jo, 2021. "The History Bubble: Negotiating Authenticity in Historical Romance Novels." M/C Journal 24.1.[Open access online.]

Izharuddin, Alicia, 2021. "'Redha tu Ikhlas': The Social–Textual Significance of Islamic Virtue in Malay Forced Marriage Narratives Religions 12.5 (310). [Available for download.]

Kraxenberger, Maria, Christine A. Knoop and Winfried Menninghaus, Winfried, 2021. "Who reads contemporary erotic novels and why?" Humanities and Social Sciences Communications 8. [Available for download.] 

Kuchta, Estella Carolye, 2021. "Imagining Love: Teen Romance Novels and American Teen Relational Capacity." International Handbook of Love: Transcultural and Transdisciplinary Perspectives, Ed. Claude-Hélène Mayer and Elisabeth Vanderheiden. Cham: Springer. 827-842. [Abstract here.]

McGurl, Mark, 2021. "Unspeakable Conventionality: The Perversity of the Kindle." American Literary History. Online First. [Abstract]

Romantic Escapes: Post-Millennial Trends in Contemporary Popular Romance Fiction
. Ed. Irene Pérez Fernández and Carmen Pérez Ríu, Carmen. Bern: Peter Lang, 2021. [This is a book which includes a number of essays on romance. The link provided is to the entry in the Romance Scholarship Database, which includes a list of the contents.]

Rader, Kara, Shelly R. Hovick & Elisabeth Bigsby, 2021. "'Are You Clean?' Encouraging STI Communication in Casual Encounters through Narrative Messages in Romance Novels." Communication Studies. Online First. [Abstract]

Wednesday, April 28, 2021

Congratulations to Jayashree Kamblé for Award to Work on BIPOC Authors and Editors

It's just been announced that Jayashree Kamblé has been awarded one of the Mellon/ACLS Community College Faculty Fellowships for 2021 for this exciting project:

BIPOC Writers, Editors, and Novels: The Missing Chapters in the Story of Mass-Market Romance

The contributions of BIPOC authors and editors of mass-market romance have often existed on the fringes of the genre’s scholarship. This project centers these sidelined histories through archival research on interviews, reviews, and industry newsletters, as well as close readings of romance novels starring BIPOC, and authored and edited by BIPOC. The project identifies BIPOC progenitors of romance novels in the United States in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries through two foci: African American editor Vivian Stephens, who sought out and nurtured Black romance, and publishers who either marginalized non-white romance writing or made it visible. Retrieving these biographies and novels fleshes out the history on BIPOC romance and disrupts this popular form’s seeming whiteness. As the genre now confronts its lack of diversity and role in normalizing bigotry, documenting BIPOC romance history shows how the industry contributed to our contemporary reactionary zeitgeist but also how it can combat it.

Jayashree is one of only "28 scholars [who] will each receive up to $40,000 to advance their respective projects, which significantly expand humanistic study and knowledge" (ACLS).

Congratulations, Jayashree!

Thursday, April 15, 2021

Congratulations to a new Doctor of Romance: Vassilikí Véros!

As she announced here, Vassilikí Véros now has

a PhD! With typical Covid fanfare, my conferral was emailed to me today. As I don’t own a floppy graduation hat, I donned my fave tiara (yes I own more than 1), my fave conference dress and took some pics with my fave romance fiction book

Since one advantage of this is that we can all join this virtual "graduation ceremony" I thought I'd post her photo here.

The PhD is titled "What the Librarians Did: The Marginalisation of Romance Fiction Through the Practices of Public Librarianship" and it's in Information and Knowledge Management/Digital Information Management, from the University of Technology, Sydney.

Since it's not currently available online, here's a list of Vassilikí's existing publications about romance, most of which are free to access:

Veros, Vassiliki (2012) "The Romance Reader and the Public Library." Australian Library Journal 61.4:298-306 [Free Access]
Veros, Vassiliki (2015) "A Matter of Meta: Category Romance Fiction and the Interplay of Paratext and Library Metadata." Journal of Popular Romance Studies 5.1 [Free Access]
Veros, Vassiliki (2017) "Keepers: Marking the Value of the Books on my Shelves." Proceedings from the Document Academy 4.1 [Free Access]

Veros, Vassiliki (2019) "Metatextual Conversations: The Exclusion/Inclusion of Genre Fiction in Public Libraries and Social Media Book Groups." Journal of the Australian Library and Information Association 68.3:254-267 [Abstract]

Veros, Vassiliki (2020) "The selective tradition, the role of romance fiction donations, and public library practices in New South Wales, Australia." Information Research 25.2 [Free Access]

Congratulations Vassilikí!

Wednesday, March 17, 2021

Concerns about Methodology of Racial Diversity Report

I've posted in the past about (and cited) the Ripped Bodice's reports on racial diversity in romance publishing so I thought it was important to note that concerns have been raised about the methodologies used in their production.

Here's the abstract/summary of Nick and Ari's critique, which can be found in full here:

We offer a critique of The Ripped Bodice’s State of Racial Diversity in Romance Publishing Report. With its lack of transparency, unethical, and unclear methodology, the diversity report leaves us with more questions than with answers. Though well-meaning, a study like this does a disservice to both publishers and BIPOC authors, while also setting a dangerous precedent of allowing poor ethics and poor data practices to run rampant in the romance community. In the last couple of years, we have seen the damaging effects of allowing misinformation in the media, so why are we still uncritically accepting a report that could be spreading misinformation to be published year after year? We urge The Ripped Bodice to do better and to carefully consider a few of the alternatives presented in this article.

In further comments on Twitter, Nick adds that:

We outline the ethical, transparency, and statistical issues & offer suggestions for alternatives. We didn't *want* to do this but their resounding silence in response to our Tweets/email/requests to view the raw data led us to believe that this needs further attention. We aren't saying what they are doing is unimportant, but the study needs to be conducted appropriately.

[Edited on 23 March 2021 to add more below.]

The Ripped Bodice have responded to the criticisms in detail here. Responses to their tweet about this can be found here, there's a list of tweets which respond by quote-tweeting it here, and I'm sure there are many other responses. Here's a tiny sample of some of them: 






and because the following has three tweets in sequence, I'm putting it in as an image rather than an embedded link, but it came from here:

This is Nick saying (at 1:47 pm · 24 Mar 2021 "I want to reiterate that NOWHERE in the article did we dismiss the conclusions of the report. I don't understand why people are twisting our words or putting words into our mouths but I guess I'll be more explicit here. We stated that this work IS important.

Trad publishing IS a mess. And they absolutely have a long way to go to truly bring equality and diversity to the industry. Clearly this "report" has done nothing to change anything majorly in the past 5 years.

So, why not bring changes to the actual report so that the bleak numbers can be taken more seriously by the industry because my perception (or suspicion) is that they are not at all taken seriously because publishers are aware of the issues?" 

Monday, March 08, 2021

CFP: Conference on Georgette Heyer’s The Black Moth at 100

Dr. Sam Hirst, of Romancing the Gothic, is organising a conference and looking for submissions:

Cover of The Black Moth

1921 saw the publication of a 19-year-old Georgette Heyer’s first novel The Black Moth. This tale of romantic highwayman, demonic rakes, abduction, ravishing beauties, betrayal and deceit set in the 18th century began a career which spanned over 50 years. [...] Her legacy is not, of course, without its problems – the world she created has its limitations, its prejudices and its biases. This one-day online conference on 20th November 2021, will seek to explore Heyer’s work and her legacy with a spirit both of celebration and of critical enquiry.

We will be joined on the day by Keynote Speaker Jennifer Kloester, author of Georgette Heyer: Biography of a Best-Seller (2011) and Georgette Heyer’s Regency World (2010). We will also be joined by a panel of authors for a roundtable on ‘Queer Reimaginings of Georgette Heyer’. We will be joined for this panel by Rose Lerner, Zen Cho, Cat Sebastian, K J Charles and Olivia Waite all of whom write within a Regency setting including communities largely absent or vilified in Heyer’s work, including queer communities, people of colour, the working class and Jewish people. This roundtable will look at both the influence of Heyer and at the idea of moving beyond the ‘Heyer World’ to explore different aspects of Regency England through more or less fantastical settings!

We are looking for papers to be included on 3-person panels throughout the day. We accept panel submissions or individual papers. We strongly encourage work which engages in interdisciplinary study. The aim of the conference is to explore aspects of Heyer’s work encapsulated in or hinted at by her first novel The Black Moth.

There are two types of paper that we are looking for.

  1. There will be regular panels of 3 x 20-minute papers.
  2. There will also be a session of ‘Lightening talks’ lasting ten minutes. Lightening talks allow for a shorter exploration of a limited aspect of the novels, a more personal enquiry or the presentation of an experimental idea!

The closing date for submissions is 31st May 2021. More details here (and also here).

Sam has added on Twitter that "Everyone is welcome to participate - academics and non-academics alike. [...] We want to create a diverse and welcoming space for everyone. We are queer friendly and want to include perspectives from all over the world. [...]

Regency spaces can sometimes be unfriendly to people of colour, queer people and people of different faiths. We are dedicated to making sure that that's not the case. Welcome one, welcome all."

Romancing the Gothic has a code of conduct and "there is a small honorarium for each speaker because we believe in valuing people's work and time in concrete ways."

Thursday, February 25, 2021

Free New Publication: Georgette Heyer, History and Historical Fiction

Edited by Samantha J. Rayner and Kim Wilkins, and published by UCL Press, Georgette Heyer, History and Historical Fiction was published today. It's available free for download at


Here's a list of the essays it contains:

1. ‘Where History says little, Fiction may say much’ (Anna Barbauld): the historical novel in women’s hands in the mid-twentieth century - Kathryn Sutherland 

2. The not so silly ass: Freddy Standen, his fictional contemporaries and alternative masculinity - Geraldine Perriam 

3. Judith Taverner as dandy-in-training in Georgette Heyer’s Regency Buck - Laura George

4. Pride and prejudice: metafiction and the value of historical romance in Georgette Heyer - Kim Sherwood

5. Loving and giving: realism, emotional hypocrisy, and generosity in A Civil Contract - Jennifer Clement

6. Georgette Heyer and redefining the Gothic romance - Holly Hirst

7. Heyer . . . in Space! The Influence of Georgette Heyer on science fiction - Kathleen Jennings 

8. All’s Well That Ends Well: Shakespearean Echoes in Heyer’s Regency novels - Lisa Hopkins

9. Georgette Heyer, Wellington’s Army and the First World War - Vanda Wilcox

10. Georgette Heyer and the language of the historical novel - Tom Zille 

11. A reluctant movie? The Reluctant Widow on screen - Lucie Bea Dutton

12. Georgette Heyer – guilty pleasures - Amy Street

13. Data science: Georgette Heyer’s historical novels and her readers - Helen Davidge

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

History and Julia Quinn

I ended up writing a post which was far too long for here, on history, "social mentalities" and some comments by Julia Quinn about what (she thought) was and wasn't possible to write given the historical record and reader preferences. It's over at my personal blog: https://www.vivanco.me.uk/blog/history-social-mentalities-and-julia-quinn

Friday, February 12, 2021

The Romance Wiki's Back - and more online romance conversations

Dr Amy Burge has just announced that "the RomanceWiki is now back online, hosted by the University of Birmingham". You can find it here:


Amy adds that "As before, the RomanceWiki is open source and collaborative, so all contributors and contributions are welcome."


A Georgette Heyer "Un-Conference" – February 25th 2021

2021 sees the centenary of the publication of Georgette Heyer’s first novel, The Black Moth, whose legacy UCL Press is recognising through the February 25th publication of a series of essays –  Georgette Heyer, History and Historical Fiction edited by Dr Samantha Rayner and Professor Kim Wilkins. 


Publication Keynote: The Black Moth & Beyond
In Conversation with Biographer Jennifer Kloester & Professor Kim Wilkins

Guest Keynote: Philippa Gregory In Conversation

Writing Historical Fiction: What can we Learn from Heyer
with novelists Kate Forsyth & Alison Goodman. Chair: Professor Kim Wilkins

Heyer: The Nonesuch of her Time & the Original Influencer
with authors & Heyer aficionados including Katie Fforde, Lois McMaster Bujold, Harriet Evans, Cathy Rentzenbrink. Chair: Jacks Thomas

Georgette Heyer, History & Historical Fiction: A volume of essays brought to life with Tom Zille, Vanda Wilcox & Kathleen Jennings. Chair: Dr Samantha Rayner

Shelf-Healing Podcast: Carriages & Costumes: Regency Replicated & Reimagined hosted by Rebecca Markwick, with guests Zack Pinsent & Amy Bracey

All that information and more can be found here. Tickets cost £10 but Dr. Samantha Rayner tweeted "Please quote heyerfan when booking for free tickets!"

[Edited to add: a query was raised on Twitter with regards to how to do this and the answer is that the place to enter the code is:

on the first page, after you have clicked on 'tickets'. Above 'Georgette Heyer: An Unconference - 25 Feb 2021' you see the words 'enter promo code', click on that, and enter 'heyerfan'


From Feminism to Orientalism: a Panel of Current Romance Research

On 26 February Pauline Suwanban (Birkbeck, University of London) and Ali Williams (University of Brighton) will be chatting online about their research. 

More details here.

Tuesday, February 09, 2021

Forthcoming Online Romance Talks: Horror, Serial Killers and Race

Sunday 14th February - 10 am and 7 pm UK time

Romancing the Gothic

Dr Sam Hirst and Tanagra on "Horror, Race and Romance: Love Doesn't Conquer All."

We'll be talking Black British and US history and looking at fictional representations in romance and horror. We'll be looking at love in horror, love as horror and horror in love! Discussing Bridgerton, Candyman and Get Out.

Sign up form here.


Thursday 25th February - 17:30 – 19:00 UK time

The University of Birmingham (UK)'s Romance Reading Group 

Katrina Jan "brings you 'Fifty Shades of the Ripper' & why the 19th-century serial killer is being reimagined as ‘sexy’ in the 21st-century contemporary novel."
More details here


Thursday 25th February - 4 to 5.30 pm Eastern US time

Professor Jayashree Kamblé on "Whose London? Migration and Multiple Identities in K.J. Charles’s Queer Historical Romance Novels." This is

about London's racial geography in romance novels (focusing on @kj_charles An Unseen Attraction) on Feb. 25 (4:00 p.m. ET). Seems timely in light of conversations on race in the genre & #Bridgerton in particular

Andrea at ShelfLove says:

I had the pleasure of enjoying a version of this talk and it’s VERY relevant to contextualizing POC in London in the 19th century, from a geographical and social perspective. For anyone interested in actual recorded history of POC at the time (even if not dukes or rich).

More details and link to sign up here.

Friday, January 29, 2021

New Publications: Brazil, Nigeria, Scholarship, Resisting Objectification, Politics, Readers and Marketing

Andrade, Roberta Manuela Barros de, Erotilde Honório Silva, Ricardo Augusto de Sabóia Feitosa, and Thiago Mena Barreto Viana, (2020) Um século de romances de amor: A trajetória da literatura sentimental no Brasil (1920 - 2020). [Details here.]

Haruna, Alkasim Kiyawa, 2021. "Female Readers as Literary Critics: Reading Experiences of Kano Market Romance Fiction." International Journal of English and Comparative Literary Studies 2.1: 34-45. [More details here.]

García Fernández, Aurora and Paloma Fresno-Calleja, 2020. “Competence, Complicity and Complexity: Hsu-Ming Teo on the Pitfalls and Nuances of Reading and Researching Popular Romance.” Raudem, Revista de Estudios de las Mujeres 8: 261-280. [More details here.]

Kolmes, Sara and Matthew A Hoffman, 2021. "Harlequin Resistance? Romance Novels as a Model for Resisting Objectification." The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism. [This was online first, so the year may change and I don't have volume or page numbers for it. It is available for free here.]

Michelson, Anna, 2021. "The politics of happily-ever-after: romance genre fiction as aesthetic public sphere." American Journal of Cultural Sociology. [This was online first, so the year may change and I don’t have volume or page numbers for it. More details here.]

Nibafasha, Spes, 2020. “The politics of the popular: Definitions and uses of African popular fiction.” Hybrid Journal of Literary and Cultural Studies 2.4. 59-75. [More details here.]

Reyes, Daisy Verduzco, Annika C. Speer and Amanda Denes, 2021. “White Women and Latina Readers’ Ambivalence Toward Fifty Shades of Grey.” Sexuality & Culture. [This was online first so the year may change and I don’t have volume or page numbers for it. More details here.]

Saxena, Vandana, 2021. “Afterlives of Colonialism: Nostalgia, Reader’s Response and the Case of Noel Barber’s Tanamera.” The Journal of Commonwealth Literature. [Also online first, so I’m not sure if the 2021 date for it will change. It seems to be open access, so should be freely available. The novel discussed seems to be both a romance and a "saga" due to its length.]

Sutton, Denise Hardesty, 2021. “Marketing Love: Romance Publishers Mills & Boon and Harlequin Enterprises, 1930–1990.” Enterprise & Society. Online First. [More details here.]

Friday, January 01, 2021

Hoping 2021 is better than 2020

Romance is, after all, a genre of hope and

To cope with all the feelings of uncertainty that 2020 has brought, many have been turning to one place guaranteed to bring a happy ending and sense of optimism: romance novels.

Sarah Wendell, an author, podcaster, and co-creator of the romance community blog Smart Bitches, Trashy Books, has seen a 75% surge in traffic on her website since the pandemic began in March. Her site was so overwhelmed, in fact, that she had to upgrade to a new server. (Copeland)

Carolyn Copeland's article at Prism also offers a roundup of some of the romance activism that took place in 2020, most notably "Romancing the Runoff" which I haven't mentioned on the blog so far, I think, but which ought to be recorded here for posterity. It got a lot of coverage (including in the New York Times, but I couldn't read that because it was behind a paywall), and I've collected some of the items written about it below:

Bustle, Lily Herman, 24 November 2020

Entertainment Weekly, Maureen Lee Lenker, 25 November 2020

Jezebel, Kelly Faircloth, 25 November 2020

Newsweek, Katherine Fung, 25 November 2020

The Guardian, Lois Beckett, 25 November 2020

Kirkus Reviews, Michael Schaub, 27 November 2020

Slate, Rachelle Hampton, 7 December 2020

Vogue, Elena Sheppard, 8 December 2020

Just for the record, the last reference I saw to the total amount raised was (as of 17 December) $475k

Another thing I forgot to mention earlier in the year (but which maybe someone would like to contribute to as part of a New Year's Resolution) is that the Journal of Popular Romance Studies now has a new section.

This section will be a Notes and Queries section. It is meant to create a more immediate dialogue on issues and trends in the field. Moreover, it offers the opportunity for our community of scholars to share insights on aspects of popular romance that would not fit the scope and requirements of a more traditionally published academic article, but nevertheless, cultivates our shared knowledge and furthers our research.

You can find out more about it here. So if you have insights to share with romance scholars, please consider submitting to JPRS. I'm looking forward to seeing what comes up in the new section in 2021.