Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Call for Papers: Happiness

This is a call for papers from Writing from Below:

Emergent research into happiness is still largely situated in fields such as sociology, psychology, and neuroscience. Traditionally the uncontested domain of the Humanities, the question of “How should we live?” is too rarely approached in contemporary literary and cultural studies. Indeed, even in a thriving field such as affect studies, research still largely focuses on negative emotions, ugly feelings (Ngai), shame (Probyn), paranoia (Sedgwick), failure (Halberstam), and the cruelty of optimism (Berlant). But perhaps the critical tide is turning. Scholars are beginning to theorise the end of our well-rehearsed “hermeneutics of suspicion,” and conjecturing what comes after (Felski). They are mapping the potential path for a “eudaimonic criticism” (Pawelski & Moore) and an “ethics of hope” (Braidotti), looking towards a more positive future (Muñoz). Critical and historical studies on empathy (Meghan; Keen), joy (Potkay) and happiness itself (Ahmed) are also emerging.
Inspired by the growing body of scholarship on optimistic representations or gender, sexuality, and queerness, Writing from Below enters the fray with this invitation to explore and interrogate positive, successful, fulfilling, life-affirming expressions of gender and sexuality in contemporary or historical literature, culture, and society.
Papers could engage with (but are not limited to):
  • Pleasure, joy, jouissance, delight, splendour, enchantment, empathy, and kindness
  • Love, passion, and amour fou
  • Middlebrow pleasure
  • Living the queer life, and queer(ing) happiness
  • Eudaimonia, mindfulness, and wellbeing
  • Eudaimonic reading, and the eudaimonic turn in cultural and literary studies
  • The hermeneutics of suspicion, paranoid and reparative reading, and their aftermath
  • Ethical criticism, the ethics of hope, and hopelessness
  • The body as site of happiness, joy, pleasure, etc.
  • Affect, the theories and/or histories of positive emotions
  • Celebration, and celebration as protest
  • Burlesque, clowning, circus, carnivals, and the carnivalesque
  • Kitsch, camp, and drag
  • Sex and play, sex lives, fun
  • Vitality, verve, vigour, and liveliness
  • Biological life, bios, zoe, survival, sur-vivre [living-on], affirmation
  • The utopian tendencies of gender studies and queer theory
  • The (queer) future, queer futurity, and happy endings
Gender studies and queer theory are located across and between disciplines, and so we welcome submissions from across (and outside of, against and up against) the full cross-/inter/-trans-disciplinary spectrum, and from inside and outside of conventional academia.
Do not be limited. Be brave. Play with form, style, and genre. Invent, demolish, reimagine.


The deadline for submissions is 29 May 2017.
To submit, visit our website:
Written submissions, whether critical or creative, should be between 3,000 and 6,000 words in length, and should adhere strictly to the 16th edition of the Chicago Manual of Style.
All submissions—critical, creative, and those falling in between; no matter the format or medium—will be subject to a process of double-blind peer review.
For editorial enquiries, or queries about unusual submissions (we adore the unusual, the unexpected and unfamiliar!), please contact our guest editor, Dr Juliane Roemhild:

The call for papers can also be found here.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

New to the Wiki: J D Robb, Katherine V. Forrest and Feminism

A short list of what's new to the Romance Wiki Bibliography:

Ali, Kecia, 2017. 
Human in Death: Morality and Mortality in J. D. Robb's Novels. Waco, Texas: Baylor UP. [I've written a response to this book on my personal blog.]
Betz, Phyllis M. 2017. 
Katherine V. Forrest: A Critical Appreciation. Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Co. [See Chapter 2, "Diana and Lane: From Pulp to Passion" excerpt here. ]
Matthews, Amy T., 2016. 
'The Hopeful Romantic', Kill Your Darlings 27: 44-56. ["Is it possible to be both a romance writer and a feminist? And if so, how might the romance genre contribute to the advancement of women's rights?" (from here)]

Thursday, February 23, 2017

News and Events: Indian romance, CFP for Genre Fiction conf in Brisbane,

Bowling Green State University's Popular Culture Scholars Association hosted a talk today by Kristen Rudisill

You might be able to read that if you click on it but if not, here's a transcript of the abstract:
Post-Colonial Romance Reading and Writing in India

At the end of the 20th century, India was the "largest sales outlet in the world" for the Mills & Boon romance novels produced primarily in English. The post-colonial nation flirted with its own English-language romances in the mid-1990s, but Rupa's & Company's Indian romance line was considered "fake" and "unrealistic" by contemporary Indian women readers. Then in 2008, Mills & Boon opened an Indian office, which started soliciting manuscripts from Indian writers. In 2009, avid romance reader Sandhya Sridhar started Pageturn Publisher, with the label "Red," to publish English-language novels that she billed as "full blooded desi romance." This paper looks at the shifts in the Indian cultural imaginary that took place across that fifteen year period to think about why Red has been able to connect with India[n] readers while the Rupa novels flopped. This paper examines the idea of "desi romance" as a new sub-genre of romance novels, and explores the boundaries of the sub-genre as defined by Red. It also takes into consideration issues of representation, culture, and identity to argue that Red is filling a niche that exists in the Indian market in addition to those filled by Mills and Boon and regional-language romances.

Genre Worlds: Popular Fiction in the 21st Century


Academic Conference in association with GenreCon
State Library of Queensland, Brisbane 10 November 2017
Abstract Deadline: 21 April 2017
Convenors: Dr Kim Wilkins, Dr Beth Driscoll, and Dr Lisa Fletcher
All artistic work… involves the joint activity of a number, often a large number, of people…. The work always shows signs of that cooperation” – Howard S. Becker, Art Worlds.
Popular fiction is one of the most dynamic cultural and commercial divisions of twenty-first century publishing. Internally, it is organised along the lines of genres, creating what we call ‘genre worlds.’  This conference will consider the ways that contemporary genre worlds function as sectors of the publishing industry, as social and cultural formations, and as bodies of texts. Who is publishing popular fiction? Who is reading it? How do genre communities form, and how do texts circulate within them? How are terms like popular fiction, genre fiction, commercial fiction and trade publishing used, and what do they suggest about the way that popular fiction is conceived of and valued, by the industry and academy alike?
We invite abstracts for presentations on aspects of Australian and international popular fiction genres, industries, markets and communities. Submissions are welcome from scholars across the humanities and social science disciplines, including those working in cultural studies, publishing studies, sociology, cultural economics, literary studies and creative writing.
Possible topics include:
  • Close and distant reading of works of contemporary popular fiction
  • Career trajectories and models of authorship in popular fiction, within and across genres
  • Social media and popular fiction
  • Distribution and routes to readers, including studies of booksellers, libraries, and the use of advanced reading copies
  • Popular fiction readers, reading practices, and fan cultures
  • Pleasure and popular fiction
  • The material formats of genre texts and paratexts, including studies of ebooks, print books, and audiobooks
  • Systems of value and gatekeeping in popular fiction, including blogging, reviewing, booktubing, bestseller lists, prizes, festivals, and events
  • Genre writing and reading groups, both online and offline
  • The spaces and places of popular fiction, including studies of book tourism
  • The economics of genre fiction: persistent and emergent business models, including self-publishing, author services, marketing strategies, and sales patterns
Plans for publications arising from the conference include a special issue of Australian Literary Studies. To be considered for inclusion, full papers of between 5,000 and 10,000 words will be due by 9 December 2017.
200-300 word abstracts should be sent to Kim Wilkins at the School of Communication & Arts, University of Queensland, at, by 21 April 2017.

[The call for papers came from here.]


No mention's made here of romance, but in case it's of interest:

Call for Proposals: 21st Century Genre Fiction

The Bloomsbury 21st Century Genre Fiction series seeks new titles addressing innovative trends and development in contemporary genre writing, considering the function of genre in both reflecting and shaping sociopolitical and economic developments of the twenty-first century. The series provides exciting and accessible introductions to new genres in twenty-first-century fiction for fans and critics alike. Exploring the history and uses of each genre to date each title in the series analyses key examples of new genres since the year 2000.

More details here.


And finally, new to the Romance Wiki bibliography is:
González-Cruz, Maria-Isabel, 2016. 
"Discourse Types and Functions in Popular Romance Fiction Novels ("Work in Progress")." On the move: Glancing Backwards To Build a Future in English Studies Ed. Aitor Ibarrola-Armendariz and Jon Ortiz de Urbina Arruabarrena. Bilbao: Universidad de Deusto. 265-271.

Saturday, February 04, 2017

New to the Wiki: Muslim Reworkings of Romance/Chick Lit and German Translations

Newns, Lucinda, 2017. 
"Renegotiating romantic genres: Textual resistance and Muslim chick lit." Journal of Commonwealth Literature. Online first. 1-17. [Abstract]
Newns examines Leila Aboulela's fictional The Translator and Shelina Zahra Janmohamed autobiographical Love in a Headscarf:
Through their manipulation of secular romantic forms, they present readers with more nuanced articulations of Muslim womanhood that fuse feminist and religious concerns. Aboulela’s novel The Translator (1999) and Janmohamed’s memoir Love in a Headscarf (2009) appropriate the domestic novel and chick lit genres, respectively, and recast them within an Islamic signification system.
Newns doesn't mention popular romance except in passing, but Aboulela's novel is compared in some detail to Jane Eyre, while Janmohamed's book is compared to chick lit.]

Sinner, Carsten, 2012. 
"Fictional orality in romance novels: Between linguistic reality and editorial requirements." The Translation of Fictive Dialogue. Ed. Jenny Brumme and Anna Espunya. Amsterdam: Rodopi. 119–136.
In constructing the characters' social context, interpersonal distance is overtly manifested in some languages. Carsten Sinner [...] illustrates the conscious efforts made by German translators of English-language romance novels to recreate the highly conventionalized use of the terms of address Sie (distant) vs du (close), and even to ensure verisimilitude in the switch from one to the other, a protocol regulated by various parameters (age, superiority, personality). (22)

Carsten Sinner [...] attests to the "sanitization" strategy (term coined in Kenny 1998) followed by German publishers of romance novels through their translation style-sheets. Any feature of speech that may have a negative impact on the reader's opinion of the 'good' character has to be attenuated or even deleted, no matter the consequences for the verisimilitude of the situation. The difficulty does not lie in finding the model of language that is homologous to the source text colloquial variety but rather in achieving plausibility without shocking the reader. (23-24)

Other things generally omitted in the translation because of the publisher's style prescriptions are religious allusions and anything seen as nationalistic, heroic in a military sense, etc, which sometimes appears in the American originals. (133)

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Studying 20th-century Cross-class Romance?

If there are any popular romance scholars looking at cross-class romances, particularly in the first half of the twentieth century, Stephen Sharot's new book, Love and Marriage Across Social Classes in American Cinema (Palgrave Macmillan), may be of interest for comparative purposes. In fact, his first two chapters may be of wider interest because they provide a summary of the social and literary context of ideas and fiction about romantic love:
An essential precondition for the cross-class romance was the emergence of romantic love as a basis for marriage and Chap. 1 traces the diffusion of this value across the class spectrum in the nineteenth century and early twentieth century. Chapter 2 traces motifs of the cross-class romance in literature, from Pamela (1740), considered by many to be the first modern novel, through to the popular American literature of the nineteenth century and early twentieth century, prior to its surge of popularity in American cinema from about 1915. (xv)

Moving on to the specifics of cross-class romance films, Sharot notes that they
were made prodigiously from the beginnings of the feature film around 1915 until the USA entered World War II at the end of 1941. (xi)
Like romance novels, they were primarily written by, and found a primary audience among, women:
The studios expected that cross-class romance films would appeal principally to women and one relevant fact with respect to the filmmakers it that, although almost all producers and directors were male, a relatively large number of script writers were female.(xiv)
This description of the distinction between the social classes also reminds me of the depictions of the working and upper classes in many romances I've come across:
up until about 1919, class in many American films was a matter of position in the mode of production, but in the 1920s and thereafter, Hollywood understood class almost exclusively in terms of levels of consumerism [...]; it was not just the quantity of the items consumed but their nature that had relevance. Some working-class heroines of cross-class romance had to overcome accusations of vulgarity while others demonstrated that they could acquire the appropriate manners and tastes of the upper-class with ease. Classes were distinguished not only by lifestyles but also by moralities. The upper-class relatives of the wealthy male in cross-class romances were often portrayed as snooty, shallow, egoistic, cold, insincere and hypocritical. The working-class families, particularly the men-folk, of poor heroines were sometimes at fault, but the heroine was frequently an exemplar of working-class morality [...]. Working-class heroines and heroes were straightforward, authentic and sincere, with a strong work ethic, personal integrity and good interpersonal relationships. (xiv-xv)

Are you interested in: a JPRS issue on Beverly Jenkins, a research workshop at BGSU, a pop culture conference?

Eric Selinger is currently teaching Beverly Jenkins’s Forbidden at DePaul University and he's noticed that Jenkins has:
been on a lot of romance syllabi over the last few years, especially here in the United States. It would be great to have a special issue / forum of JPRS about Jenkins, including some pieces about teaching Jenkins (who does a lot of teaching in her work, of course, as well); something about how she reads from outside the US would also be quite interesting, as would pieces about her legacy and influence on other romance authors.

If anyone wants to guest edit that special issue, please be in touch! And if you wouldn’t want to edit it, but could contribute – even something relatively small about what you’ve taught and what you did with it—get in touch with me about that as well. 
Jenkins is one of the authors featured in a small online exhibit about "Pioneering African American Romance Authors" created by Steve Ammidown, Manuscripts & Outreach Archivist at Browne Popular Culture Library. He also sends notification of an
upcoming PCA/ACA Summer Research Institute here at Bowling Green. More information can be found here:

I particularly want to highlight our romance collections, since they got short shrift in the announcement. They include:

-An extensive collection of series romances dating back to the 1960s
-Stand-alone gothic and contemporary romances from the 1960s and 1970s
-A collection of Woman’s Weekly Library (UK) periodicals from the 1950s-1970s
-Promotional postcards for romance novels, mostly 1990s-today
-And probably some more stuff I’m forgetting!

I would be happy to answer any questions about the collections and their potential for research. I’d really love to see these collections get use during the Institute, so please consider applying. The deadline for applying is March 24th, so time is of the essence!
The British Association for Contemporary Literary Studies has announced:
Theorising the Popular Conference 2017
Liverpool Hope University, June 21st-22nd 2017

The Popular Culture Research Group at Liverpool Hope University is delighted to announce its seventh annual international conference, ‘Theorising the Popular’. Building on the success of previous years, the 2017 conference aims to highlight the intellectual originality, depth and breadth of ‘popular’ disciplines, as well as their academic relationship with and within ‘traditional’ subjects. One of its chief goals will be to generate debate that challenges academic hierarchies and cuts across disciplinary barriers.

The conference invites submissions from a broad range of disciplines, and is particularly interested in new ways of researching ‘popular’ forms of communication and culture. In addition to papers from established and early career academics, we encourage proposals from postgraduate taught and research students.

Possible topics include, but are not limited to:

• Film and Television
• Media and Communication
• Politics and Populism
• Literature (Fiction and Non-Fiction)
• Music
• Drama and Performance
• Fan Cultures and Audience Research
• Sport
• Celebrity
• Social Media
• Gender: Feminism/Femininities/Masculinities/Queering/Sexualities/Representations of the Body
• Language/Linguistics

The conference will be held at Liverpool Hope’s main campus, Hope Park. Situated in a pleasant suburb of Liverpool, just four miles from the city centre, Hope Park offers superb facilities in beautiful surroundings.

Papers should be 20 minutes in length. Please send abstracts of 300 words to Dr Jacqui Miller and Dr Joshua Gulam ( by March 17th 2017. The abstract should include your name, email address, affiliation, as well as the title of your paper.

Successful abstracts will be notified by April 3rd 2017.
Conference fees: £100 for both days, including lunch and all refreshments (£80 for students).
Theorising the Popular 2017

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Can you help? Seeking romance readers, authors, and a list of 50 romances

There are two Australian romance projects looking for participants at the moment.

Over at Summer of Romance
a team of researchers from the University of Tasmania are working on a project tracking novels by Harlequin Mills & Boon. Specifically, we want to find out what happens to them after they’re published. We’ve got a list of fifty books by Australian authors that we’re tracking between December 1, 2016 and February 28, 2017. If you see one of these books, take a photo of it where you found it and then post it to one of our social media accounts, along with a quick description of where it was.
Meanwhile, Donna Maree Hanson continues her search for romance readers and (especially) romance authors who'd be willing to fill in a questionnaire for her as part of her Ph.D. research. Donna's a romance reader and author
surveying writers of popular romance fiction and readers of popular romance fiction. [...] The response is so good that we could go for statistically significant for reader response so yes I’m still looking for readers of romance fiction. Please spread the word. Do the survey if you are a reader of romance!

The irony is that I’m sadly lacking in romance fiction authors responding to the survey, particularly in comparison to the reader response. I know there are thousands of romance authors out there. I am having trouble reaching them. Romance Writers of Australia has nearly a 1000 members, Romance Writers of America has over 10,000 members. You think it would be easy. But it’s not. I’m not a member of the Romance Writers of America for example and it’s not easy for me to wave the flag and say lookie here.
Can you help? Links to her surveys can be found here.

Thursday, January 05, 2017

New to the Wiki: Virginity, the Hymen, Desire, Bodies, Blackness and Disability

Burge, Amy, 2016. 
"‘I Will Cut Myself and Smear Blood on the Sheet’: Testing
Virginity in Medieval and Modern Orientalist Romance." Virgin Envy: The Cultural Insignificance of the Hymen. Ed. Jonathan A. Allan, Cristina Santos, and Adriana Spahr. London: Zed. 17-44.
Amy Burge's " 'I Will Cut Myself and Smear Blood on the Sheet': Testing Virginity in Medieval and Modern Orientalist Romance," focuses on representations of the virginity test. Burge explores six sheikh popular romance novels, all featuring virgin heroines. She positions these texts alongside two popular English medieval romances, Bevis of Hampton (c. 1300) and Floris and Blancheflur (c. 1250). She analyzes the persistent reference in all of these texts to the virginity test used to prove women's virginity. Pointing out that these tests are easily manipulated, thereby highlighting their unreliability, Burge reminds us that the sole purpose of testing female virginity is to secure male ownership of women in a heteronormatively gendered society. (6)
Hirdman, Anja, 2016. 
"Speaking through the flesh: Affective encounters, gazes and desire in Harlequin romances," MedieKultur: Journal of media and communication research 32.61: 42-57. [PDF available for free]
Drawing from the cross-disciplinary field of affect theory, the article examines the writing of desire in Harlequin romances through the delineation of gendered encounters. Against the backdrop of earlier feminist critiques of romance fiction, it argues that Harlequin’s intense focus on corporeal sensations and gazes encompasses a looking relationship that differs significantly from the visual mediation of gender and desire. With its use of an extended literary transvestism, a double narrator perspective, and the appropriation of a female gaze, Harlequin offers readers an affective imaginary space in which the significance of the gendered body is re-made, re-versed, and the male body is stripped of its unique position.

McAlister, Jodi, 2016. 
"Between Pleasure and Pain: The Textual Politics of the Hymen." Virgin Envy: The Cultural Insignificance of the Hymen. Ed. Jonathan A. Allan, Cristina Santos, and Adriana Spahr. London: Zed. 45-64.
In [...] "Between Pleasure and Pain: The Textual Politics of the Hymen," Jodi McAlister explores the history of the representation of the hymen in Western literature romances. Her analysis ranges from the thirteenth century, with Le roman de la rose; to the seventeenth century, with the ballad A Remedy for Green Sickness (1682) and A Dialogue between a Married Woman and a Maid (1655); through to experts from "Sub-Umbra, or Sport among the She-Noodles" and "Lady Pokingham, or They All Do It" from Pearl (a magazine published in 1879-80); and up to examples taken from the twentieth century and twenty-first century, using Beyond Heaving Bosoms and recent autobiographical stories of virginity loss. By examining blood, pain, and (im)perforability - common motifs associated with the hymen - in all of these texts across such a vast array of periods, McAlister reveals the discourse over the female body across time. In doing so, she discovers that the perception of virginity loss (the rupture of the hymen) brings about a profound transformative change in women; it is the journey toward adulthood, sexual maturity, and pleasure. More so, from the earliest to the latest of these romances, McAlister argues that the role of women has greatly improved: the transformative change moves from being that imposed externally by the man to that becoming internal to the woman. Finally, and tellingly, McAlister's analysis, by moving from early literary texts to current autobiographical stories (a point of friction in her chapter between literary texts and real lives), shows that in the latter texts the hymen is less concrete: the broken hymen does not and cannot fulfill the expectation of the transformative changes long promised by our cultural imaginary. (6-7)
Schalk, Sami, 2016. 
"Happily Ever After for Whom? Blackness and Disability in Romance Narratives." Journal of Popular Culture 49.6: 1241–1260. Excerpt
In the United States, people with disabilities are often represented as nonsexual, having either no desire or capacity for sexual interactions. This stereotype is supported by the lack of mainstream representation and by the historical denial and punishment of the sexualities of people with disabilities through eugenics, forced sterilization, institutionalization, exclusion from sex education, and more [...]. In contrast, the sexuality of black people has been abundantly represented as a problem that needs to be controlled. Black feminists argue that sexuality and gender are always already racialized, and sexual-racial stereotypes, like the Jezebel, dominate contemporary cultural representations of black women. While the sexualities of black people have been more often represented than the sexualities of disabled people, these representations have typically been oppressive nonetheless.
Positive, perhaps even liberatory, scripts of black and disabled people's sexualities are largely nonexistent, especially in mainstream culture. As a result, writers of popular fiction have sought to depict black and disabled people's experiences in the popular romance genre. (1241)

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Romance Roundup: Spanish romance in English, Crime fiction wins in Scotland, Romance defended

A new, English translation of a novel by Corín Tellado has been published:
In 1962, Unesco declared her the most-read Spanish author alongside Cervantes. [...] Mario Vargas Llosa [...] has supplied the prologue to the translation.

“[Tellado] was, in all likelihood, the most significant sociocultural phenomenon in the Spanish language since the Golden Age,” writes the Peruvian-born Nobel laureate. “What might ostensibly appear to be heresy – and from a qualitative perspective it is – ceases to be so if we begin to view things in quantitative terms. Borges, García Márquez, Ortega y Gasset, any of the most original thinkers and writers in my language that you might care to mention, none of them have reached as many readers or had so great an influence on the way in which people feel, speak, love, hate, understand life and human relations, than María del Socorro Tellado López, Socorrín to her friends.”
Duncan Wheeler, associate professor of Spanish studies at the University of Leeds, was researching the cultural politics of Spain’s post-Franco transition to democracy when he noticed that her readers had been ignominiously lumped in with fans of Julio Iglesias and his ilk.

After devouring 50 of her books bought for a euro each at Madrid’s El Rastro flea market four years ago, he began to look beyond the comparisons with Cartland and consider Tellado as a chronicler of Spanish society [...] the books offer a valuable overview of an evolving Spain. Not only do they reflect the changing status of women as the tourism boom allowed them to leave home to work in hotels and other service industries, they also depict the country’s nascent celebrity culture and its fascination with all things American. (The Guardian)
The details of the translation are:

Corín Tellado, Thursdays with Leila, trans. Duncan Wheeler, intro. Diana Holmes and Duncan Wheeler, prologue Mario Vargas Llosa (Cambridge: MHRA New Translations, 2016)

More details of the cost and how to obtain the volume are available from The Modern Humanities Research Association.

I've often seen romance referred as the best-selling genre of popular fiction but presumably that's in the US/North American market. At least, at the end of November the Scottish Book Trust revealed that
crime/thriller books are the single most popular type of fiction in Scotland.

In a recent Ipsos MORI Scotland survey of 1,000 adults, just over 1 in 4 Scots (27%) who read for enjoyment said that books which fictionalise crimes, their detection, criminals and their motives topped their choice of reading or listening genres. The next most popular genre were science fiction/fantasy and biography/autobiography, both at 10%, followed by historical fiction at 9%.

While the crime genre was the most popular among readers of all ages, the second most popular genre among young readers (aged 16-34) was science fiction/fantasy (15%), while readers aged 55 and over chose historical fiction as their second preference (14%). (Scottish Book Trust)
To end on a more positive note for romance, Val Derbyshire's been busy trying to change perceptions of popular romance. She's reviewed Jenna Kernan's The Shifter's Choice (Harlequin Mills & Boon) in Revenant's special issue on werewolves. It's good to see a romance novel reviewed (and the genre defended) in an academic journal:
this is a romance where the author is asking her readers to suspend disbelief quite a lot. However, like most Mills & Boon romances, it's not as empty-headed as literary critics would have you believe. The story raises several issues of interest to contemporary society, including such matters as the selfishness of our Western consumption-driven culture in which the gulf between the 'haves' and the 'have-nots' is ever widening.
Earlier this year she was on the BBC arguing that romance is feminist and a lot more of her thoughts on that and other issues in the genre can be found in this short booklet about Harlequin Mills & Boon romances. Among the most thought-provoking parts for me was the one on "defamiliarisation":
Russian Formalist critic Viktor Shklovsky coined the term 'defamiliarisation'. He used this to describe the capacity of art to invest the familiar with strangeness and thereby enhance perception.

'Defamiliarisation' is not simply a question of perception; it is the essence of literariness. Authors who 'bare the device' in literature and expose literature's artificiality, defamiliarise its tropes and render it into 'true art'.

Mills & Boons do this repeatedly.
this is a romance where the author is asking her readers to suspend disbelief quite a lot. However, like most Mills & Boon romances, it’s not as empty-headed as literary critics would have you believe. The story raises several issues of interest to contemporary society, including such matters as the selfishness of our Western consumption-driven culture in which the gulf between the ‘haves’ and ‘have-nots’ is ever widening. - See more at:
this is a romance where the author is asking her readers to suspend disbelief quite a lot. However, like most Mills & Boon romances, it’s not as empty-headed as literary critics would have you believe. The story raises several issues of interest to contemporary society, including such matters as the selfishness of our Western consumption-driven culture in which the gulf between the ‘haves’ and ‘have-nots’ is ever widening. - See more at:
this is a romance where the author is asking her readers to suspend disbelief quite a lot. However, like most Mills & Boon romances, it’s not as empty-headed as literary critics would have you believe. The story raises several issues of interest to contemporary society, including such matters as the selfishness of our Western consumption-driven culture in which the gulf between the ‘haves’ and ‘have-nots’ is ever widening. - See more at:

Tuesday, December 06, 2016

New to the Wiki: Islands in Romance, YA, NA, Crusie's Buildings, Military Romance, the British Empire.

Crane, Ralph and Lisa Fletcher, 2016. 
The Genre of Islands: Popular Fiction and Performative Geographies.” Island Studies Journal 11.2 (2016): 637-650.
Gillis, Bryan and Joanna Simpson, 2015. 
Sexual Content in Young Adult Literature: Reading between the Sheets (Lanham, Maryland: Rowman & Littlefield). [See Chapter 6 on "Sexual Content in Young Adult Romance".] Excerpt
Gleason, William, 2016. 
"The Inside Story: Jennifer Crusie and the Architecture of Love." Popular Fiction and Spatiality: Reading Genre Settings. Ed. Lisa Fletcher. New York: Palgrave Macmillan. 79-93. Excerpt Abstract
Kitchen, Veronica, 2016. 
"Veterans and Military Masculinity in Popular Romance Fiction." Critical Military Studies. Abstract
Teo, Hsu-Ming, 2016. 
"Imperial Affairs: The British Empire and the Romantic Novel, 1890-1939", New Directions in Popular Fiction: Genre, Distribution, Reproduction, ed. Ken Gelder. (Houndmills, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan), pp. 87-110. Excerpt
Tienkamp, Aaf, 2016. 
"New Adult Romance: An Emerging Genre." Master’s Dissertation Literary Studies. Programme: Writing, Editing and Mediating, University of Groningen.

Monday, December 05, 2016

Deadline Extended: Francis Award ($250 USD + Publication)

The International Association for the Study of Popular Romance (IASPR) is has extended the deadline for the Conseula Francis Award for the best unpublished essay on popular romance media and / or the logics, institutions, and social practices of romantic love in global popular culture. Submissions must now be received by Friday, January 6, 2017.  The winning essay will receive a $250 USD cash prize and be published in the peer-reviewed Journal of Popular Romance Studies, pending any needed revision according to the judges’ comments.

Essays submitted for the Francis Award may focus on work in any medium (e.g., fiction, film, TV, music, comics, or advice literature) or on topics related to real-world courtship, dating, relationships, and love. Conseula Francis’s work on popular romance fiction focused on African American authors and representations of Black love, and priority for the Francis Award will be given to manuscripts that address the diversity of, and diversities within, popular romance and romantic love culture: e.g., diversity of race, ethnicity, gender, religion, class, sexuality, disability, or age.

All submissions should be sent to Erin Young, Managing Editor of the Journal of Popular Romance Studies, at Please put “Francis Award” in your subject line. All submissions must be Microsoft Word documents, with citations in MLA format; in keeping with JPRS publication guidelines we will consider essays of 5000 to ~10,000 words in length. Please remove your name or the name of any co-authors from the submitted manuscript; in your cover-letter email, please provide your contact information (address, phone number, e-mail address) and a 150-200 word abstract of the submission.

The judges for the Francis Award will be a mix of established and emerging scholars in the field of Popular Romance Studies, chosen by IASPR. The award winner will be announced in April, 2017; each year’s winner will be invited to join the panel of judges for the following year.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

CFP: International Seminar on Linguistic and Cultural Others in Romance

International Seminar on

(Canary Islands, Spain)
June 21st-23rd 2017

Romance novels have often been dismissed by critics because of their nature as a popular genre and for being written and read largely by women. However, in the last decade a number of scholars have approached the study of the romance novel with critical rigor and avoiding the condescending treatment of previous analyses. Quite often in romance novels we encounter characters that have very different backgrounds: come from different countries and cultures, speak different languages, belong to very different social strata or are, in some other way, an “Other” to the rest of the characters and/or the intended readers. This International Seminar invites proposals in which the main characters or other important characters in the text can be considered as “Other”, with special consideration given to linguistic and cultural others. Possible topics include, but are not limited to:

-       English-language novels that take place in the Canary Islands or other Atlantic /Caribbean islands
-       Paradise discourse
-       Cross-cultural clashes
-       Languages in contact: codeswitching and/or language mixing
-       Bilingualism, biculturalism and identity
-       Metalinguistic references and/or speech representation
-       The “Other” as a romance hero or heroine
-       Gender discourses

This International Seminar is organized by the “Discourse, Gender & Identity” Project Group (grant FFI2014-53962-P, funded by the Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness) and the Research Team “Sociolinguistic & Sociocultural Studies” working at the ULPGC Department of Modern Languages. We invite proposals for paper presentations which must be sent as an email attachment by January 31st 2017 to

Abstracts will not exceed 350 words (excluding the references) and will outline the topic to be discussed in 20-minute sessions followed by ten minutes for discussion. The following details should also be provided in the abstract: 1) Title of paper 2) Name and affiliation of each author 3) email address of each author 4) between 3 and 5 keywords.

All proposals will be reviewed within four weeks of submission. The main language of the Seminar will be English but presentations in Spanish will also be considered.

Further information about registration, accommodation and details about publication of selected papers will be provided shortly in a second call for papers.