Friday, July 15, 2016

Award Created in Memory of Conseula Francis



The International Association for the Study of Popular Romance (IASPR) is proud to announce the creation of a new essay award in honor and memory of our colleague Conseula Francis. 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.

The Francis Award is for the best unpublished essay on popular romance media and / or the logics, institutions, and social practices of romantic love in global popular culture.  Essays 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.

More details here.

Saturday, July 02, 2016

News Roundup: CFP, items added to the Romance Wiki and more


I haven't posted links for a while so this is a very, very long post. It covers a lot of areas, including items I've added to the Romance Wiki and calls for papers.

Romance readings:

Amy Burge will be at the Edinburgh Fringe (16 August) leading a session about romance writing.

Ali Williams has launched the CatRom Project, "an exploration of the way in which category romances address and engages with social issues. Its primary objective is to create a collection of analysis of individual novels, as well as interviews with authors and editors within the genre on the subject of issues within category romance."

Evangeline Holland has posted a paper on "Pistols and Petticoats: How Women Write the West", which is a reading of Western focused on Jezebel by Katherine Sutcliffe (1997), Fair Is the Rose by Meagan McKinney (1993), and Fall From Grace by Megan Chance (1997). She finds that
In the Western romance, as presented by female writers for a primarily female audience, the frontier myth is strong, particularly Turner’s thesis that the West was “‘free land’ into which the pioneers moved [and] was available for the taking, and that American progress began with a regenerative retreat to the primitive, followed by a recapitulation of the stages of civilization.” (White) All three novels end in some degree on a farm, with little interrogation as to how it is be acquired, but with the implication that it—domesticity through landownership and homesteading—is necessary for a believable romantic ending.
Romance Documentary update:

"LOVE BETWEEN THE COVERS was selected as the #1 choice of all 2015 videos by the American Library Association's Booklist Review".

Calls for Papers:
  • Black Love: A Symposium The 80th Anniversary of Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God. University of Kansas, September 14-16, 2017. The organisers "invite scholars, writers, and artists to reflect upon Black Love—its history, its reiterations, and its futurity—at a symposium to be held at the University of Kansas" and the "Symposium presentations may cover, but are not limited to, the following topics" of which the first is "Romance novels". More details here.
  • Lesbian Lives Conference 2017: Lesbian Love/s. University of Brighton, UK, 24-25 February 2017. Dr Olu Jenzen (University of Brighton) specially forwarded details of the conference to romance scholars so it's clear that our participation would be welcome. More details here.
  • The Society for the Philosophy of Sex and Love, 12-15 April 2017, at the Westin Hotel in Seattle. Panel session for SPSL, to be held as part of the group meeting program of the Pacific Division of the American Philosophical Association. Papers on any topic related to the philosophy of sex and love are welcome. More details here.

Jo Beverley (in memoriam):

News of Jo Beverley's death on 23 May was met with great sadness by members of the romance community, including the Romance Writers of America, her colleagues and readers at the Word Wenches blog, and individual authors such as Lynne Connolly.

Academic articles:
Morton, Leith, 2016. 
"The reinvention of romance: The rewriting, reception and censorship of 'ninjobon' in modern Japan." Journal of the Oriental Society of Australia 47: 85-115. Abstract
Radick, Caryn, 2016. 
"Romance Writers’ Use of Archives." Archivaria, the Journal of the Association of Canadian Archivists 81: 45-73. Abstract

Tanner, David, 2016. 
“Literary Success and Popular Romantic Fiction: Ethel M. Dell, a Case Study.” The Book World: Selling and Distributing British Literature, 1900-1940. Ed. Nicola Wilson. Leiden: Brill, 2016. 83-94. Excerpt
Thierauf, Doreen, 2016. 
“Forever After: Desire in the 21st-Century Romance Blockbuster.” Journal of Popular Culture 49.3: 604-26. Excerpt. [As I've mentioned before, I don't tend to add items about Fifty and Twilight to the Romance Wiki. They're kind of a phenomenon in their own right, though obviously they do have a romance at their centres. This article really disappointed me because it only looks at Twilight, Fifty Shades and a Pride and Prejudice fan fic but nonetheless draws sweeping conclusions about popular romance fiction, such as "Romance’s generic requirement that the hero should be volatile in his affections and sexually intimidating is brought to its logical conclusion in these series" (618). This is not a "generic requirement" of romance: the author would have done better to limit their conclusions to Twilight and Fifty.]
Dissertation/thesis:

Morrissey, Katherine, "Romance Networks: Aspiration & Desire in Today’s Digital Culture" (2016). Theses and Dissertations. Paper 1179. University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee.

In the media:

Lee, Jenny, 2016. 'Ballymena Mills & Boone author on the world of romance', The Irish News, 13 June 2016. [About Lynne Graham, whose 100th Mills & Boon was published this year] 

Mumford, Tracy, 2016. 'Who is reading romance novels?', MPR News, 13 June 2016. [Nielson statistics on romance readers in 2014/15] 

Thurston, Robert W., 2016. 'Ordinary People Learn History from Teachers, Movies, and This', History News Network, 12 June 2016. [About the historical content in historical romances]

Friday, July 01, 2016

Romances in Ladino


Eric just re-tweeted an announcement about the republication of some romances in Ladino.

Below are two of the original covers, which are in the collection of the Alliance Israélite Universelle.


Seventeen of these little pamphlets were among the books donated by the family of Israël-Salvator Révah (1917-1973). They're works of popular romantic fiction, written in Ladino (the language of Sephardi Jews, which is very similar to medieval Castilian/Spanish) and published in Istanbul between 1930 and 1933. [Images and details from eSepharad.com]

Karen Gerson Şarhon is responsible for the republication of the works by the
Sentro Sefaradi de Estambol. They'll be publishing 16 of them, at a rate of 3 every month and a half. The first three (pictured at the very top of this page) are: El Amor de Antonyo por su Mujer (by Moiz Habib), La Ermoza Janeta entre dos Amantes (by Eliya Gayus) and El Amor de Matilda kon dos Jovenes (by Moiz Habib). Anyone interested in obtaining copies should write to: sephardiccenter@gmail.com [Details from Salom]

Thursday, June 02, 2016

Changes at IASPR

--Eric Selinger

After a three-year term, Pamela Regis is stepping down from her position as President of the International Association for the Study of Popular Romance (IASPR). 

Much of Pam’s work over the past three years has focused on securing the financial stability and non-profit / charitable status of IASPR, and in addition to her ongoing scholarly work, she will continue to serve the organization as Treasurer. 

She will be succeeded as President by Eric Murphy Selinger, who also serves as Executive Editor of IASPR’s peer-reviewed open-access publication, the Journal of Popular Romance Studies. 

Other changes in the IASPR leadership will be announced in the coming weeks.  In the meantime, all of us in Team IASPR / JPRS look forward to welcoming romance scholars from around the world at the Sixth International Conference on Popular Romance later this month in Salt Lake City!

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Conference Programme for the 6th International IASPR Conference (23-25 June 2016)


The full conference programme is now available here. Among the papers are:

Elin Abrahamsson, Stockholm University, Sweden:
“Consuming Passions: a queer reading of the popular romance genre through the concept of masturbation”

Katherine Morrissey, Rochester Institute of Technology, New York:
“Keeping It Classy: Studying Sex and Romance”

Len Barot, Bold Strokes Books, New York:
“Diversity in Lesbian Romance Fiction: The Impact of Gender and Race on Marketing and Sales”

Heather Schell, George Washington University, DC:
Two Nerdy History Girls: Historical Romance Novelists as Teachers of History”

Caryn Radick, Rutgers University, New Jersey:
“Writing about History and Becoming Part of the Historical Record: Romance Writers’ Use of Archives and Archival Collections Documenting Popular Romance”

Jessica Matthews, George Mason University, Virginia:
“Romance as Propaganda: White Fantasy of Indian Love in the 19th –century ‘Civilize the American Indian’ Movement”

Javaria Farooqui, Institute of Information Technology, Lahore, Pakistan:
“‘Raging Seas and Cloudy Skies’: Macro to Meso Level Psychosemantic Movement in Stephanie Laurens’ Black Cobra Quartet

Erin Young, SUNY Empire State College, New York:
“Love in the Last Frontier: An Analysis of Alaskan Romance Novels”

Margot Blankier, Trinity College, Dublin:
“‘The Sweetest Story Ever Told’: ‘Cinderella’ as American Dream Narrative”

Pavla Stefanska, Masavyk University, Czech Republic:
“Blurring the Lines: Irish mythology and symbolism in Nora Roberts’ The Cousin O’Dwyer’s Trilogy

Eric Murphy Selinger, DePaul University, Chicago:
“‘Use Heart in Your Search’: Erotic Faith, the Heart Sutra, and the Allusive Art of My Beautiful Enemy

Jayashree Kamble, Assist. Prof. of English, City University of New York:
“Epistemes and Cultural Dominants: What Popular Romance Novels’ Heroes and Heroines Tell Us About Postmodernity”

Lesley Ann Smith, Curtin, University, Australia:
“Understanding the Formula”

Maryan Wherry, Independent Scholar & Writer, Quad-Cities, Illinois:
“Love and the American Dream in Popular Romance”

Amy Burge, Edinburgh University, Scotland:
“‘Shipping magnates and oil sheikhs’: Decoding the exotic hero in ‘Harlequin Presents’ romance novels, 2000-2015”

Kecia Ali, Boston University:
“Triangulating Desire: Navigating Islamland, Arabiastan, and Romancelandia in Suzanne Brockmann’s Into the Night

Sarah Ficke, Marymount University, Virginia:
“When Vampires Meet Clockwork: Fantasy Creatures in Steampunk Romance”

Maria-Isabel González-Cruz, Universidad de Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Canary Islands, Spain:
“Intercultural and interlingual relations in a corpus of popular romance fiction novels”

Mallory Jagodzinski, Bowling Green State University, Ohio:
“Playing Tricks: Neoliberalism, Postfeminism, and Postraciality in Theresa Romain’s Secrets of a Scandalous Heiress”

Hsu-Ming Teo, Macquarie University, Australia:
“When a Jew loves a Nazi: Romance novels and the Holocaust”

Amira Jarmakani, San Diego State University:
“Radioactive Love: Mapping Desire from Agrabah to Abbottabad”

Jonathan Allan, Brandon University, Canada:
“What is the Ever After doing in Happily Ever After? Temporality and Futurity”

Maria Ramos-Garcia, South Dakota State University:
“Creating the Sense of an Ending in Urban Fantasy”

Friday, May 20, 2016

Romance Miscellany: Online, In the Media, In Journals/Academic Volumes


On the Internet:

Bornschein, Anne N. 'The Stars (and bars): race and racism in Susan Elizabeth Phillips’s Chicago Stars series'.

Horne, Jackie C. reviews Catherine M. Roach's Happily Ever After: The Romance Story in Popular Culture. Part 1, Part 2, Part 3.

Linda. Review of Rita-nominated Toward the Sunrise by Elizabeth Camden at Smart Bitches Trashy Books ["unfortunately, underneath the charming plot ... was a backbone of unremitting Orientalism and historical revisionism."]

In the Media:

Anonymous, 2016. 'Roberta Gellis (1927-2016): Obituary'.

Roberta Gellis (1927 - 2016)

Obituary

Roberta Gellis (1927 - 2016)

Obituary

Roberta Gellis (1927 - 2016)

Obituary

Roberta Gellis (1927 - 2016)

Obituary

Bilde, Marie, 2016. 'It’s Springtime for Romance in Denmark', Publishing Perspectives, April 25, 2016. ["Romantic fiction in Copenhagen has mainly lived in kiosks alongside magazines — until now. As April smiles on Denmark, new imprints are bringing romance into the open."]

Owen, Jonathan, 2016. 'Gransnet jumps into bed with racy publisher Mills & Boon for content partnership', Campaign, May 03, 2016. ['Romantic publisher Mills & Boon and the website Gransnet have announced what they call a "budding romance", and will begin working together to capitalise on the interest of older women in sex and romance.']

Sanusi, Isa, 2016. 'A hunger for romance in northern Nigeria', BBC, 4 May 2016.

Academic Articles:
Hess, Jonathan M., 2010. 
Middlebrow Literature and the Making of German-Jewish Identity. Stanford, California: Stanford University Press. [See Chapter 3: "Middlebrow Culture in Pursuit of Romance: Love, Fiction, and the Virtues of Marrying In"] Excerpt

Salmon, Catherine, 2016. 
"What Do Romance Novels, Pro Wrestling, and Mack Bolan Have in Common?: Consilience and the Pop Culture of Storytelling." Darwin's Bridge: Uniting the Humanities and Sciences. Ed. Joseph Carroll, Dan P. McAdams and Edward O. Wilson. New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2016. 167-182. Excerpt
 
Tidwell, Christy, 2016. 
"“A Little Wildness”: Negotiating Relationships between Human and Nonhuman in Historical Romance", Creatural Fictions: Human-Animal Relationships in Twentieth- and Twenty-First-Century Literature, Ed. David Herman, Palgrave Studies in Animals and Literature (Houndmills, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan). 151-171. Excerpt Abstract [Focuses on Bertrice Small's Sky O'Malley and Patricia Gaffney's Wild at Heart]

Monday, May 09, 2016

Sad News: Conseula Francis

Eric posted the following message to the Romance Scholar listserv earlier today:

-------------------------

Very sad news this morning:  romance scholar Conseula Francis, who also worked on James Baldwin, Octavia Butler, and many other authors and topics, has died. Her husband posted this on Facebook this morning:

Dear Friends,
It is my sad duty to report, that shortly before dawn on May 9th, 2016, Conseula Alena Francis passed from this Earth. Not only was she the love of my life, but she also was a loving mother who blessed me with two wonderful girls.

Among her peers, she was well-respected as a scholar, academic, and administrator. As an educator, she was loved by her students, many of whom unabashedly agree that both in and out of the classroom she changed lives. She was beloved by her friends, and as a sister, daughter, sister-in-law, and daughter-in-law, she was adored by her relatives.

As her light passes into the next world, she leaves this world dimmer and colder. Please keep her in your memories.

I knew from FB that she had gone into the hospital, but her posts had indicated that it was nothing serious. It’s a terrible loss to her family, her academic community, and to the field.

Conseula’s groundbreaking essay on Zane as a romance novelist was published in the Romance Fiction and American Culture anthology last month; she was a contributor to the Popular Romance Project, with posts on iconography of the Obamas and on Zane and respectability politics. She was a deeply valued peer reviewer for JPRS, and appeared there in print as an interviewer of Joanna Russ.

She will be missed.

Best,
Eric

------------------------
The College of Charleston's tribute to her can be found here. The Post and Courier has published a short obituary as has ABCnews4.

[Edited to add: Another article, written by one of Conseula's colleagues, has been published at Inside Higher Education.]

Saturday, April 30, 2016

University of Love Conference Agenda


The joint programme of events put together by the Romance Writers of Australia and Flinders University for the 2016 Romance Writers of Australia conference (18-21 August) is now online. It includes:

  • Cliteracy: Women and Sexual Pleasure in the Romance Novel
    - Presented by: Dr. Catherine Roach, New College, University of Alabama

  • Love and Listening: The Erotics of Talk in the Popular Romance Novel
    - Presented by: Dr. Jodi McAlister

  • The Genre World of Romance in the Twenty-First Century
    - Presented by: Dr. Lisa Fletcher, University of Tasmania; Dr. Beth Driscoll, University of Melbourne; Dr. Kim Wilkins, University of Queensland

  • Defying Decorative Objectification: The Appeal of the Heroine in Historical Western Romance Fiction.
    - Presented by: Dr. Amy Matthews, Flinders University

  • Representations of Single Mothers in Contemporary American Romance Fiction
    - Presented by: Ms. Michelle Douglas, University of Newcastle

  • The (Saggy) Bottom Line: Women of a “Certain Age” and Romance Fiction
    - Presented by: Dr. Sandra Barletta

Full details of all the papers and activities can be found here.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Keira Soleore reports back on the PCA/ACA conference


Keira Soleore has posted summaries of papers presented on romance at the recent PCA/ACA conference:
The Popular Culture Association and American Culture Association's national conference was on Tuesday, March 22 in Seattle. I attended five of the seven sessions in the Romance Area, which was chaired by Eric Selinger of DePaul University.
Keira's first post summarises

"Novel" Representations of Female Sexuality in Popular Fiction Across Cultures by Claire Watson

Aspirational Labor in the Creative Industries: Becoming a “Real” Romance Writer by Jen Lois

Analyzing Dan Savage's "Monogamish" Claim by Shaun Miller

Keira's second post summarises

Poldark As Anti-Antihero: Rebooting Romantic Masculinity for an Age of Crisis by Kyle Sclabach

All Around Great Guys, Mostly: The Evolving Romantic Hero in Literary Webseries by Margaret Selinger

Alpha, Beta, and the Ambiguous Omega: The Diversity of Heroes by Veera Mäkelä

Constructing Black Masculinities in Romance Fiction by Julie Moody-Freeman

Keira's third post summarises

"Lifting as We Climb": Iola LeRoy and the Early African-American Romance by Pamela Regis

Making It American: Epic Romance and the National Myth by Maryan Wherry

You Say Anal Like It's A Bad Thing by Meagan Gacke

Muslim Love American Style: Islamic-American Hybrid Culture and Romance in Muslim Fiction by Layla Abdullah-Poulos

Keira's fourth post summarises

Session Four, on Diversity in Historical Romance

and

Lady Catherine's Descendents: Examples of the Older Other Woman in Romance Fiction by Olivia Waite

A Short Inquiry into the Gothic Romance by Angela Toscano


Friday, April 08, 2016

New Pages (and Videos) on Love (and Romance Scholarship)


Documentary-maker Laurie Kahn invited Eric
to curate some “Resource Pages” of links relevant to topics raised in Love Between the Covers, the romance documentary, and they’re now live!  They’re designed to be of use both to teachers and curious readers.
The pages include links to video-clips, documents and other web-pages on the topics of

Over on the website of Kahn's production company, you can see videos taken at the Library of Congress during
What Is Love? Romance Fiction in the Digital Age [...] a two-day Popular Romance Project conference that brought romance authors, readers, publishers, and scholars in many disciplines together for four fascinating panel discussions.
The links below take you straight to the videos on Vimeo:

Panel 1 discussed "What Belongs in the Romance Canon?"

Panel 2 asked "What Do The Science and History of Romance Reveal?"

Panel 3 looked at "Community and the Romance Genre"

Panel 4 focused on what's "Trending Now: Where is Romance Fiction Heading in the Digital Age?"

Details about all of the panelists, panels and the introduction to the conference as well as all the videos can be found here.

Also out recently is a podcast featuring Lisa Fletcher,
one of the scholars working on a project called Genre worlds: Australian popular fiction in the 21st century (2016–2019). This project won an RWA (US) grant, followed by a very prestigious grant from the Australia Research Council. Lisa talks about the project’s goals and  methodology, as well as other themes and topics in popular fiction that pique her interest. She also talks about the challenges of teaching romance at university, and some of the books and techniques she uses in her classes.
The podcast can be found here.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

CFP: Representations of Romantic Relationships and the Romance Genre in Contemporary Women’s Writing


Representations of Romantic Relationships and the Romance Genre in Contemporary Women’s Writing

Saturday 11th June 2016, Sheffield Hallam University

Co-hosted with the Postgraduate Contemporary Women’s Writing Network

‘…It would be at best grossly incurious and at worst sadly limited for literary critics to ignore a genre that millions and millions of women read voraciously’ (Pornography for Women is Different, Ann Snitow, 1979)
Almost forty years have passed since Snitow’s ardent defence of the importance of recognising and examining the romance genre, however critical consideration of the romance remains limited. Some have suggested that this could be a result of a snobbery associated with romantic fiction, or perhaps even more startlingly due to a general lack of interest in the literature women write and read (Light [1984], Philips [2006] and Radway [1984]). Critic Emily S. Davis states ‘Romance…does not get much love in critical circles…it is no coincidence that the areas most frequently dismissed as inconsequential…are precisely those identified with disempowered groups such as women and queers.’

Although there remains an overall absence of criticism the importance of women writers’ relationship with the romance and the effect it has on women readers has been acknowledged, particularly in relation to feminism. In ‘‘Returning to Manderley’ – Romance Fiction, Female Sexuality and Class’ Alison Light acknowledges that romances are ‘…often seen as coercive and stereotyping narratives which invite the reader to identify with a passive heroine who only finds true happiness in submitting to a masterful male.’ In contrast the most well-known and acclaimed critic on the genre, Janice A. Radway, stressed ‘Romance is being changed and struggled over by the women who write them.’ Indeed, contemporary women writers from the Booker Prize winning Margaret Atwood to the self-proclaimed ‘chick-lit’ writer Sophie Kinsella have written novels which use the romance genre and/or focus on romantic relationships and could be seen to be part of a re-writing of the genre.

Given the significant links between the romance, women writers and women readers, conversation around the presence of the genre in contemporary fiction is crucial. This symposium seeks to encourage this discussion.

Topics may include yet are not limited to the thematic list below:

• The presence of romantic relationships and the use of the romance genre in contemporary women’s writing

• The relationship between the romance genre and feminism

• The perception of romance as a low-brow genre, and the extent to which this perception offers critical and intellectual insights into debates about how we define women’s writing and cultural contribution

• The future of the romance genre within contemporary women’s literature

A 250-word abstract for 20-minute papers including a brief personal statement, should be submitted to symposium@pgcwwn.org by Friday 8th April 2016.

[Details as posted at cfp.english.upenn.edu]