Thursday, January 12, 2023

CFP: Revisiting Radway

With thanks to Azteclady, who alerted me to this call for papers/submissions:

Still Reading Romance

deadline for submissions: March 15, 2023
full name / name of organization: Kathleen Kollman

Editors: Josefine Smith, Shippensburg University,; and Kathleen Kollman, Miami University, 

Overview: Based on initial research performed by Janice Radway for her groundbreaking work, Reading the Romance (U of NC Press, 1984), this collection’s co-editor Josefine Smith designed an updated version of Radway’s survey, targeting romance novel readers. After two distributions, the result was over 300 responses and a raw data set which is now shareable to interested contributors to this volume. This survey includes questions on the following topics: Romance Reading Habits, the Romance Genre, the New Adult Fiction Subgenre, and Demographics.

Contributors will be free to analyze the data through whatever relevant lenses they choose, with an eye toward exploring how mores, interests, readership, and the romance novel itself has changed and developed over the nearly forty years since Radway conducted her original research. This will be a book-length peer-reviewed volume. Contributors from all disciplines are welcome and encouraged to submit, and the editors are interested in all types of research methods and theoretical perspectives. Both affiliated and independent scholars are encouraged to submit, as are early-career researchers.

Topics of particular interest include:

  • Women and gender studies research

  • Reader response research

  • Mixed methods research that spins off from the original survey

  • Direct comparison with Radway’s original research

  • Shifting cultural norms in popular fiction representation

  • Genre theory research

  • Romance novel readers’ engagement with feminism and gender equity.

This is not an exhaustive list.

For more information see 

The call for papers does say that people thinking of submitting can ask to see the data in advance, which I think is helpful as it may be that potential contributors might have issues with the questions, spot something they wouldn't have expected in the data etc and that would affect their submission.

I don't know the editors, but I did find one paper by Kathleen Kollman in the RSDB (it was a paper presented to a conference at Bowling Green University in 2018).

Friday, January 06, 2023

More recent/forthcoming publications: Goodreads, good reading, governesses and sheikhs

I accidentally missed an item off my previous list of new publications:

Turner, Ellen and Cecilia Wadsö Lecaros, Cecilia (2022). “The desert-governess romance: Regency England meets exotic Arabia.” Lund Journal of English Studies 4:1-24.

And since I've started this post, I thought I might as well add a few snippets from an article which isn't primarily about romance but does include some findings about romance readers. I get the impression that the authors of the article aren't judging readers, they're just pointing out that  few people are really reading as widely as is claimed (but not by them) to be "good" for you.

In the Introduction to Literary Studies and Human Flourishing, the editors, James F. English and Heather Love, describe the article like this:

English, Enderle, and Dhakecha find that ordinary readers are encouraged to take joy and solace from ways of reading that are sharply at odds with what is positively valued - deemed to be "good for you" - in academic literary studies. The team's study of many thousands of ratings and reviews on the Goodreads social reading site suggests that the vast majority of readers turn to literature to enjoy the repeatable satisfactions of a single favored genre such as romance, mystery, or science fiction. Even Goodreads users who describe their attachment to reading in the academically approved terms of an eclectic openness to new kinds of literary encounter appear actually to seek the comforts of belonging to a narrow community of shared tastes. (14)

In the article itself, English, Enderle, and Dhakecha write that:

readers who favor romance novels [...] are the most balkanized, the least omnivorous, and the most distant from readers who favor literary fiction [...]. The readers of literary fiction would themselves be as sharply segregated as romance readers were it not for the blurry borderland they share with readers of historical fiction [...]. The extreme lack of affinity between the romance and literary groups conforms with a classic high/low social division, romance being the least critically respected of all popular genres and literary fiction being in a sense a tautological category consisting of precisely those novels that attract critical regard. The strong affinity [...] between literary fiction and historical fiction conforms with what we know about the increasingly close relationship between critical status and historical setting on the contemporary literary field. And these patterns [...] conform with a conventional gender hierarchy. Women are a clear majority of Goodreads fiction readers in general, but we find them most heavily concentrated, approaching 100%, in romance. (52)

They do raise questions, though, about the "academically approved [...] eclectic openness to new kinds of literary encounter":  "shouldn't we [...] direct some critical vigilance toward the orthodoxy of eclecticism itself? When exactly did the heterogeneity of one's reading become the measure of one's readerly health?" (59). Unfortunately the book's not been published yet, so I wasn't able to read any further to see if they provide any answers to those questions.

What I did find was the authors' website where you can find an interactive graph of their findings.


English, James F., Scott Enderle, and Rahul Dhakecha. "Bad Habits on Goodreads? Eclecticism vs. Genre-Intolerance among Online Readers." Literary Studies and Human Flourishing, Ed. James F. English and Heather Love. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2023. 35-62. [Excerpt here.]

Thursday, January 05, 2023

News and New Publications: Publishing Woe, a Forthcoming Book on the Romance Heroine's Journey, etc

I've now left Twitter but I can still be contacted via my website, via responses to posts here, and I'm also on Mastodon as .

I would say "Happy New Year!" but SmartBitchesTrashy Books is reporting that

It’s a bleak time in the professional world of media and book publishing.

The Harper Collins Union remains on strike after more than a month, and HarperCollins is refusing to negotiate. Publishing shuts down at Christmas, so it’s likely they’ll be on strike into next year. [...]

There are layoffs happening at so many publications, too, including in books coverage. BuzzFeed has laid off a portion of their workforce, including their books editor, Farrah Penn.

And Gannett, parent to USA Today, laid off a portion of their workforce, including Mary Cadden, who compiled the USA Today bestseller list

To continue the bleak midwinter theme, Jezebel is reporting that 

In October 2020, a post on indie romance author Susan Meachen’s Facebook page, allegedly written by her daughter, announced that Meachen had tragically died by suicide a month earlier. This news was followed by more posts from Meachen’s “daughter” (on Meachen’s account) in the author’s private writers group, The Ward, suggesting her mother took her own life because her peers in the online indie book community bullied her.

In light of this horrible news, authors and online friends helped fund Meachen’s funeral, created an anti-bullying anthology in her memory, and offered to help her daughter edit her mother’s final book, free of charge. On Monday—over two years later—Meachen’s account posted something new in The Ward. This time, it was Susan saying she’s actually been alive this whole time.

On a happier note than redundancies and possible fraud, romance academic Dr. Amy Burge was quoted on the BBC website recommending romance-themed Christmas movies/books. She ended with a quick summary of what romance scholarship's about:  "While many read [...] romance for comfort and entertainment, readers can also think more critically about the genre, questioning the way these books represent the dreams, desires, and values of a particular society."

This is evident in Jayashree Kamblé's Creating Identity: The Popular Romance Heroine's Journey to Selfhood and Self-Presentation forthcoming (due in the summer) new book, which is now available for pre-order. You can read an excerpt here. I've collected some of the key quotes from that excerpt, describing the contents, here.

And now on to a list of recent publications:

Long, Veronica Lee (2022). “Individuation and the Romance Novel.” PhD thesis, Pacifica Graduate Institute.

Pupipat, A., Rungkaew, T., & Meeparp, L. (2022). "Judging a Book by its Back Cover: Spoken/Informal Register as Found in Happily-Ever-After Women’s Novel Blurbs." Journal of Studies in the English Language, 17(2), 1–31.

Sheehan, Sarah E. (2022) "The “Popular Romance Canon”: An Academic Librarian’s Response." Journal of Popular Romance Studies 11. [I would like to note that there are some academic libraries with significant romance collections, as listed at the Romance Wiki (unfortunately I've been unable to log in to it and update it with details about the acquisition made by Indiana University's Lilly Library) and I've also added some to the sidebar here at Teach Me Tonight.]