Friday, April 28, 2023

Nora Roberts and Book Banning

From the Washington Post:

in Martin County, Fla. The school district there recently decided to yank from its high school library circulation eight novels by Nora Roberts that are not “pornography” at all — largely prompted by objections from a single woman who also happens to be a Moms for Liberty activist. [...]

This signals a new trend: Book banners are increasingly going after a wide variety of titles, including romance novels, under the guise of targeting “pornography.” That term is a very flexible one — deliberately so, it appears — and it is sweeping ever more broadly to include books that can’t be described as such in any reasonable sense. [...]

All this shows that red-state book crackdowns are designed to whip up frenzies of book-banning zealotry. Vaguely defined directives enable lone actors to purge whole stacks of books based on frivolous rationales, encouraging parents to hunt for offending books and officials to err on the side of removal. A new PEN America report found nearly 1,500 instances of schools banning books during the first half of the 2022-2023 year, increasingly based on them supposedly containing “pornography.”

“Activists and politicians are inflating the notion of what constitutes ‘pornography’ beyond all recognition,” Jonathan Friedman, director of free expression at PEN, told us. They are going after “romance books, books about puberty or sex education and books that just have LGBTQ characters.”

In related news, on 23 April the 

The EveryLibrary Institute, a national nonprofit focused on public policy and libraries, is proud to announce that bestselling author Nora Roberts and the Nora Roberts Foundation have made a generous donation to support the launch of Fight for the First, its new advocacy and organizing site with a mission of protecting the First Amendment in libraries across the country.

The situation is somewhat different in the UK, but nonetheless,

Research carried out by the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals (Cilip), the UK’s library and information association, found that a third of librarians had been asked by members of the public to censor or remove books, indicating that such incidents “had increased significantly in recent years”, according to Cilip’s chief executive, Nick Poole. The most targeted books involve empire, race and LGBTQ+ themes. (The Guardian)

[Edited later on 28 April to add something AztecLady noted elsewhere on this topic: in the second half of 2022

The romance writer Nora Roberts [...] donated $50,000 to a Michigan library that was defunded in August after it refused to remove a number of LGBTQ+ books from its shelves.

Roberts, an award-winning author of more than 225 romance novels, made the contribution late last month via an online fundraising campaign for the Patmos Library in Jamestown Township, Michigan. (The Hill)


Monday, April 24, 2023

Blogger's Guidelines Affecting Teach Me Tonight

We've had two posts placed behind a content warning now. The first was of a post written many years ago, discussing a book which I can accept had a title/contents which were definitely what might have been classified as for adults. However, my last post was just a round-up of recent publications and it had nothing in it at all unsafe for work or that would have been unsuitable for small children to see, unless small children aren't even allowed to know of the existence of certain words/concepts.

As far as I can tell, it would at best be difficult to challenge Blogger's decisions on such matters and at worst I'd have to make a huge effort and the decision would still stand. I don't know how many posts will be hidden in future but I'm pretty much only posting details of new publications to notify readers of those, so I'm assuming that everyone who's interested will click through.

I'd be interested to know what regular readers of TMT think. Comments, by the way, are pre-moderated due to the amount of spam we were getting.

All the best,


New Publications: Beefcake, Bridgerton, Gender, Ecocriticism, Publishing, Adaptation


The full schedule of the 2023 conference of the International Association for the Study of Popular Romance is now online. The conference itself is taking place from 28-30 June.


Here are the new publications, which I've added to the Romance Scholarship Database:

Allan, Jonathan A. (2023). "Softcore romance: on naked heroes and beefcakes in popular romance novels." **** Studies. [Some quotes and link here. I'm trying to avoid getting caught in a Blogger filter so I'm starring out words I think might trigger it.]

Davisson, Amber and Kyra Hunting (2023). " From private pleasure to erotic spectacle: Adapting Bridgerton to female audience desires."  Journal of Popular Television 11.1:7-25. [I've not been able to access this, but the abstract can be found here. It's part of a special issue about the television version of the Bridgerton novels.]

Hanson, Donna Maree (2022). Romance fiction as a bridge to understanding changing gender roles in society. PhD in Creative Writing, University of Canberra. 

[The dissertation is partly a discussion of two surveys carried out in 2016/2017, one with romance readers and the other with romance authors, with a view to understanding their attitudes towards feminism. The full dissertation is available via a link provided on the page to which I've linked above.] 

Pérez-Gil, María del Mar (2023). "Mass Tourism, Ecocriticism, and Mills & Boon Romances (1970s-1980s)." Green Letters: Studies in Ecocriticism.

Reed, Eleanor (2023). Woman's Weekly and Lower-Middle-Class Domestic Culture in Britain, 1918-1958: Making Homemakers Liverpool: Liverpool University Press. [More details here.]

Sharma, Vishal, Kirsten Bray, Neha Kumar, and Rebecca E. Grinter. 2023. “It Takes (at least) Two: The Work to Make Romance Work.” In Proceedings of the 2023 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI ’23), April 23–28, 2023, Hamburg, Germany. ACM, New York, NY, USA.

This discusses the work involved in self-publishing romance. It notes that:

While white participants reported using pen-names to separate their writer identity from their personal one, our participants of color undertook much more significant identity management. In addition to adopting white-sounding pen names, they mentioned about how race influenced their story lines and characters. Digital platforms, and the need they create for writers to engage with readers, surface questions of how they become arenas in which some are excluded while others are privileged based on whether it is possible for everyone to engage equally (e.g. whether everyone can use video for conversations).  [...] Romance novelists continue to confront issues of racism within the community, and our research suggests another dimension to this reckoning, which shows how the tools writers use perpetuate or even exacerbate discrimination.

Wells, Juliette (2022). "Afterword: Sex, Romance, and Representation in Uzma Jalaluddin’s Ayesha at Last." Jane Austen, Sex, and Romance: Engaging with Desire in the Novels and Beyond. Ed. Nora Nachumi and Stephanie Oppenheim. University of Rochester Press. Rochester, NY. 243-252. [Some quotes and links here.]