Sunday, March 24, 2024

New Publications: Minotaurs and Pornography; HFNs and HEAs without marriage; Bridgerton

There are two new articles out from the Journal of Popular Romance Studies and since one of them is by me, I'm going to show immense bias and make this a very short list instead of waiting for more new publications, and I'm also going to list my article first.

Vivanco, Laura (2024). “Feeling Judged: Reflections on Pornography and Romance from a Minotaur Milking Farm.” Journal of Popular Romance Studies 13.

I don't have any other scholarship in progress, which is a somewhat strange feeling. I'm still updating the Romance Scholarship Database, though, and every so often I come across items from previous years which I've missed. If you know of something that isn't in the database and which should be, please do let me know!

Kies, Bridget (2024). “Saying ‘I Don’t’: Queer Romance in the Post–Marriage Equality World.” Journal of Popular Romance Studies 13.

Reese, Tracy H.Z. (2024). "Beyond the Pale: Genre, Race, and Intersectional Feminist Tensions in Bridgerton." Adapting Bridgerton: Essays on the Netflix Show in Context. Edited by Valerie Estelle Frankel. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland. 9-21. [See via Google Books here.]


Wednesday, March 13, 2024

A new book (on Ethel M. Dell) and other new publications

Riding The Tosh Horse: Ethel M. Dell, A Written Life by David Tanner, published by Brown Dog Books:

The largely forgotten romantic novelist Ethel M. Dell (1881-1939) published alongside Rudyard Kipling and other literary giants but was vilified by George Orwell and P.G. Wodehouse among many. Ethel was a recluse, and actively avoided marketing herself as a personality in any way, but her formula was successful. She reached a very large audience publishing 98 titles and earning, at the height of her career, about £4M annually in today’s values. Her plots included a popular and heady mix of heterosexual, implicit same-sex relationships, sexual deviances, gratuitous violence, death and exoticised notions of Empire and masculinity. The veneer of Ethel’s plots was used to communicate her philosophies, her views on life and on her family.

Although being publishing alongside literary giants she did not receive establishment acceptance because of her style and no doubt envy of her substantial earnings. With an escapist and non-literary appeal to a lower middle class reader universe Ethel used a very successful multi-media marketing strategy with magazine serialisation, hard copy books, film, theatre and radio to reach this audience in the UK, the United States, Europe and the British colonies.

A forerunner to Mills and Boon’s success Ethel was very influential in setting the scene for mass market romantic fiction. Barbara Cartland stated that Ethel was her greatest influence.

Befeler, Paige (2022), LGBTQ(NA), Queer New Adult Fiction: The Emergence of a New Genre and Its Impact on the LGBTQIA+ Community. Thesis for Honors in Comparative Literary Studies, Wellesley College.
Kluger, Johanna (2024). "'On Thursdays We Shoot': Guns and Gender Binaries in Regency Romance Novels". Ladies in Arms: Women, Guns, and Feminisms in Contemporary Popular Culture. Ed. Teresa Hiergeist and Stefanie Schäfer, transcript verlag. 163-179. [The whole volume is available for free at the link given.]
Kluger, Johanna (2024). "Post-Trump masculinity in popular romance novels." Neohelicon. Online First. Open access.
Parnell, Claire (2023). "Algospeak and algo-design in platformed book publishing: Revolutionary creative tactics in digital paratext to circumvent content moderation." Paper presented at AoIR2023: The 24th Annual Conference of the Association of Internet Researchers. Philadelphia, PA, USA: AoIR

Ripoll Fonollar, Mariana (2023). Wording deeds: the figure of the suffragette in contemporary british fiction, Universitat de les Illes Balears. [This is a thesis which is not freely available. The abstract can be found here.]

Tuesday, February 13, 2024

Past Conference Videos, Current Exhibition Feedback and New Publications

Videos are now freely available of some of the events from last year's Popular Romance Fiction: The Literature of Hope conference, held at Yale University.


Andrea Martucci's Shelf Love podcast episode about this exhibition of John Ennis's art for romance covers is available here:

Smart Bitch Sarah's feedback (including lots of photos) on the exhibition can be found here:


And here are the new publications:

Burge, Amy, Jodi McAlister and Charlotte Ireland (2024). '“Prince Charming with an Erection”: The Sensational Pleasures of the Bonkbuster.' Contemporary Women's Writing [This shows how bonkbusters are not romance.]

Johnson, Jacqueline E. (2024) "Lusting out loud: racialized aurality, podcast intimacy, and the uses of thirst". Communication, Culture and Critique. Online First. [Excerpt and details here. As I mentioned over on BlueSky, the focus on "the expansive middle" reminded me of Athena Bellas and Jodi McAlister 's (non-paywalled) recent article on audio erotica. So I wondered if such a focus might have something to do with an audio experience? And/or a difference between what readers/listeners seek from erotica vs. romance fiction? Jodi suggested it could be to do with the length of time available and that the episodes could be thought of as 'a little slice of life from what An Goris calls the "post-HEA"'.]
Markova, M. V. (2024). "Georgette Heyer, history, and historical fiction." Voprosy literatury 1:198-203. [This is written in Russian, and in any case I could not access the pdf from]

Morden, Christina (2023). Innovations in Romance Novel Distribution at Harlequin, Sourcebooks, and Raincoast Books. Master of Publishing, Simon Fraser University. 
Pates, Giuliana (2023). "Reading Practices and Gender Politicization: How do Young Argentinean Women Read Romantic Novels." Revista Interdisciplinaria de Estudios de Género de El Colegio de México 9.1:1–26. [This is in Spanish.]

Spencer, L. (2024). '“Walk like a chameleon”: Reflecting on my teaching journey at a South African university'. Educare, (1), 192–215. [Dr Lynda Gichanda Spencer, Associate Professor and Chair of the Department of Literary Studies in English at Rhodes University, discussed her teaching of African romance fiction as part of a panel at the IASPR 2020 conference. There are a couple of paragraphs about her 2019 third-year elective course titled Global Chick-Lit or Trans-Global Literature? Re-reading Contemporary Women’s Fiction in this online paper, discussing how she asked students to compare Harlequin Mills & Boon romances with romances by African publishers.]

Monday, February 05, 2024

The Romance Wikithon: Valentine's Day Edition

IASPR is holding a Valentine's Day (well, Wednesday 14 February for some time zones) Romance Wikithon, with training from Amy Burge! It's not just for romance scholars: readers have lots of expertise to share too! Here's the description that was shared with those of us on the IASPR Discord group:

Join us, this Valentines Day, to share our expertise as romance scholars [and readers] and increase the representation of romance on Wikipedia! Open to all. 

This 90-minute session will be practical and informal. It is aimed at those who have never edited Wikipedia before. Training and guidance will be given. Recommended for those who might be interested in using Wikipedia as part of teaching, for those who are interested in learning more about how to edit Wikipedia, and for anyone who would like to make positive change in the world! The session will be facilitated by Dr Amy Burge, who has run editathons at the University of Cardiff, and has used Wikipedia for assessment with students.

Here's the signup page.

The timezone information in the graphic says:

Wednesday 14th February        London         20:00-21:30
                                                  Chicago        14:00-15.30
Thursday 15th February           Melbourne    07:00-08:30 

[Edited to add: Here are the details on the IASPR website, which I've only just seen.]

Monday, January 22, 2024

Bad Romance Data, Monsters and New Publications

The data does NOT exist to support the statement that romance is a billion dollar industry. Quite frankly, the data does not exist to make any sweeping statements about the size of the popular romance genre market.

So says Andrea Martucci of the Shelf Love podcast, who's been taking a hard look at the "popular romance genre market data between 1972 and today" and presented her "research on 'Bad Romance Data' at the 2023 International Association for the Study of Popular Romance conference." You can read her analysis and conclusions here (and it's archived here).


Also via Andrea (but this time not by her), comes a call for participants:

Whether you're solely into humans or a monster romance enthusiast, I'd love for you to take part in my survey. I'm a graduate student doing my thesis on whether or not monster attraction could be explained through evolutionary anthropology.

The survey will be available from January 9, 2024, to March 12, 20204, and it will take about 20 to 30 minutes to complete (although some people have finished it in as little as 12 minutes). It's completely anonymous and only requires that you be at least 18 years old to participate.

Andrea spotted it on Reddit but there's also a more formal announcement giving details of the research on the Research Study Consent Form to be found at the website of California State University, Fullerton.

The research is being "carried out by Phoebe Santillan, under the guidance of Dr. Elizabeth Pillsworth" and

The purpose of this research study is to gather information on people who are attracted to fictional monsters. You are being asked to participate in this study because any and all data is valuable at this stage within the research process. Attraction to fictional monsters is not required to participate in this study.

And here's a short list of new publications:

Allen, Amanda K. (2024) "Ruling the Court: Reflections on Midcentury Junior Novel Romances." Journal of Popular Romance Studies 13.

Robinson, Rachel (2023). Reading and writing dogs in popular romance fiction, PhD, University of Tasmania. [Only the abstract is currently available.]
Warnaar, Karin (2023). "Dresses and Drapery: The Material Essie Summers." Scope: Contemporary Research Topics art & design 25:91-96. [Full pdf available for download at the link provided and, as a bonus, here's a link to a 2018 Otago Daily Times article about Essie Summers' life and work which Warnaar cites.]

Ya’u, Mohammed Sani, Sabariah Md Rashid, Afida Mohamad Ali and Hardev Kaur Jujar Singh (2023). "Semantic Extensions of Hausa Visual and Auditory Perception Verbs gani and ji in Romance Fiction." Pertanika Journal of Social Science and Humanities 31.4:1441-1464.

Thursday, January 04, 2024

New Publications and an Exhibition: Gender and Agression, Publishing and More

Lots of open access articles!

Golubov, Nattie (2023). "Female Warriors, Social Injustice and the Transformational Force of Anger in Jaye Wells' Sabina Kane Series." Esferas Literarias 6: 21-37.

Larson, Christine, and Ashley Carter (2023). "Love is love: Reverse isomorphism and the rise of LGBTQ+ romance publishing." New Media & Society.

Markasović, Valentina (2023). "Challenging Gender Stereotypes in Holly Black’s The Folk of the Air Trilogy." Breaking Stereotypes in American Popular Culture: Proceedings of the 10th Annual Conference of the Croatian Association for American Studies: 41-56. 

Miclea, Adelina (2023). "Colleen Hoover’s Formulas for Best-Sellers as Seen in Reminders of Him and It Ends with Us." Romanian Journal of English Studies 20.1:72-79.

Mulvey, Alexandra Hazel (2023). Gender and Sex Stereotypes in Sports Romance Fiction. Masters thesis, Macquarie University. [The link is to a pdf.]

Pierini, Francesca (2023). "Towards a Regime of Authenticity: Reading A Room with a View through the Lens of Contemporary Romance Scholarship." LEA - Lingue E Letterature D'Oriente E D'Occidente 12: 217-228.

And quite a bit less accessible, but no doubt still of interest to readers of this blog:

"Covering Romance", an exhibition and sale of romance novel cover art by John Ennis, will be taking place in Yardley, Pennsylvania, at the AOY Art Center Gallery from February 10th (Opening Reception), with viewing open to the public on 11, 16, 17, 18 February (12-5pm). More details about the party for the opening can be found here: