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.

Monday, October 31, 2016

Call for Papers: US-UK Romance

Love Across the Atlantic:

An Interdisciplinary Conference on US-UK Romance 
Friday June 16 2017, Centre for Research in Film & Audiovisual Cultures, University of Roehampton, London

Organised in conjunction with New College, University of Alabama
Keynote Speakers: Professors Karen Randell & Alexis Weedon, University of Bedfordshire
In 1946 when Winston Churchill referred to the ‘special relationship’ between the USA and Britain in his ‘Sinews of Peace’ address, he was referring to the close political, economic, and military alliance between the two nations - a relationship that had become especially entwined and enhanced in the second world war, but which has a much longer history preceding this. Alongside and throughout the cultural history of this alliance there have always existed US-UK ‘special relationships’ of another kind – love affairs carried out across the expanse of the Atlantic, as British and American citizens have flirted, courted and fallen in love, with one another but often too with the idea(l) of that other place across the ocean. US-UK love affairs have thus proven to be a mainstay of romantic narratives for generations, shared across film, television, literature and all the arts. This interdisciplinary conference is dedicated to exploring some of the history, manifestations and enduring appeal of these relationships: what are the economic and ideological factors that have fuelled this romantic framework; what have been its recurrent tropes across disciplinary, national and temporal boundaries; and how does the notion of ‘love across the Atlantic’ speak to our collective fantasies of home, desire, escape and identity?
Topics may include, but are not limited to:

- American anglophilia/fascination with Englishness
- Working Title’s romantic comedies, and other US-UK film collaborations
- Colonial love, romance, and conquest
- Transatlantic fandoms
- US-UK celebrity romances
- TV series themed around transatlantic relationships and characters (e.g. NY-LON, You’re The Worst, Cuckoo)
- Wartime love stories and ‘GI Brides’
- American literary and artistic expatriates (e.g. T.S. Eliot, Ezra Pound, J.A.M. Whistler, John Singer Sargent, etc.)
- Literary and genre fiction depictions/explorations of transatlantic love and romance

Abstracts of up to 300 words along with a short biog should be submitted to Deborah Jermyn at and Catherine Roach at  by December 1.
Pre-constituted panels of 3-4 speakers (20 min papers) are also welcomed. Notifications will be sent out by mid-January

Sunday, October 23, 2016

New to the Wiki: Mary Renault, Louise Mack, Virginity and Sexuality

Egan, Jesi, 2016. 
'Cultural Futurity and the Politics of Recovery: Mary Renault's Ambivalent Romances.' MFS Modern Fiction Studies 62.3: 462-80. Abstract
Fekete, Maleah, 2016. 
"Social Differences in Taste: Investigating Romance Reading." 2016 SURF Conference Proceedings [This is a conference paper but outlines the direction of a larger project in which the student is attempting to assess whether Radway's findings about readers looking to romance for nurturance were ever correct by speaking to modern readers (many of whom are reading books with similar elements to those preferred by Radway's readers). The student concludes that Radway was wrong and "the real reason women read is to feel sexually self-actualized - that is, reach their highest potential as sexually active women". However, given that this explanation does not explain the existence of a market for "sweet" romances, I feel it must be a generalisation which should not be assumed to apply to all romance readers.]
Gelder, Ken and Rachael Weaver, 2010. 
"Louise Mack and Colonial Pseudo Literature." Southerly 70.2: 82-95.
Wogan-Browne, Jocelyn, 2004. 
“Virginity Always Comes Twice: Virginity and Profession, Virginity and Romance.” Maistresse of My Wit: Medieval Women, Modern Scholars. Eds. Louise D’Arcens and Juanita Feros Ruys. Turnhout: Brepols. 335-69.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Calls for Papers: Science Fiction/Fantasy and Romance; Romance, Fans, and Fan Fiction

Two calls for papers, one from the Journal of Popular Romance Studies (looking for papers about science fiction/fantasy) and the other from Transformative Works and Cultures (seeking papers on romance fans and romance fanworks).

The Romance of Science Fiction / Fantasy

Deadline: January 1, 2017

Whether we consider romance novels incorporating elements of the fantastic, the future, or the alien, or works of Science Fiction/Fantasy exploring love, desire, and other aspects of romantic culture, the relationship between these genres has been enduring and productive. Following up on a series of joint panels at the 2016 national conference of the Popular Culture Association, the Journal of Popular Romance Studies calls for papers for a special issue on the intersections between romance and science fiction/fantasy in fiction (including fan fic), film, TV, and other media, now and in the past, from anywhere in the world.  This special issue will be guest edited by Gillian I. Leitch, PCA co-chair for SF/Fantasy, and Erin Young.
Contributions might consider questions like the following, either in terms of particular texts (novels, films, TV shows, etc.) or in terms of genre, audience, and media history:
  • How has the intersection of these two popular genres opened up new possibilities in conceptualizing gender, desire, sexuality, love, courtship, or relationship structure, not just recently, but since the earliest years of SF/Fantasy?
  • How has their intersection allowed us to see existing concepts of gender, desire, sexuality, love, courtship, and relationship structure in fresh or critical ways?
  • How have authors, filmmakers, producers, and fans played these genres against one another, for example by using romance to critique traditions in SF/F, or SF/F to critique the tropes of romance?  How has this counterpoint been explored by authors, filmmakers, producers, and fans of color, or by LBGTQIA creators and audiences?
  • How might reading classics of SF/F as romance change our perception of them: works like Dune and the Witch World novels, The Left Hand of Darkness, or even E.E. “Doc” Smith’s Lensman series, which are threaded on a tale of eugenic love?
  • What happens to works of paranormal, futuristic, or time-travel romance when we read them through the lenses provided by SF/Fantasy Studies?
  • What happens when teaching works of SF/Fantasy and popular romance? How do these genres co-exist or compete in pedagogical experience or classroom practice?
  • How do works of SF/Fantasy and popular romance coexist and interact in library ecosystems? What issues arise in terms of collection development, readers advisory, or community engagement?
Papers of between 5,000 and 10,000 words, including notes and bibliography, should be sent to Erin Young ( To facilitate blind peer review, please remove your name and other identifying information from the manuscript.  Submissions should be Microsoft Word documents, with citations in MLA format.

Special Issue CFP: Romance/Fans: Sexual Fantasy, Love, & Genre in Fandom (3/1/17; 3/15/18)


Romance is one of the most beloved genres of media around the world. Catherine Roach describes fans of romance fiction as ‘ludic readers... who read for play and pleasure’ (2016, 32). According to Roach, romance fandom is both ‘intensely private, as the reading experience can be, but also powerfully communitarian’ (32). Despite the popularity of romance media, romance fandoms remain relatively unaddressed within fan studies. Traditionally, the relationship between “shipping” and romance has been cast as either oppositional or ambivalent. Catherine Driscoll argues that romance “generally appears as a mute field” in studies of fan fiction (2006, 82). Romance is framed as a force that sexually explicit fan fiction responds to or acts against. This framework has a tendency to privilege certain fan works and overgeneralize popular romance genres.

This special issue aims to examine the romance/fan relationship from three directions. First, we seek to examine the relationship between fan works and romantic storytelling today. How do we theorize the flow of works, authors, and audiences between contemporary fandoms and commercial romance genres? By examining romantic texts and their producers, how might we reconsider the rich dynamism of romantic aesthetics and tropes across cultures, national contexts, and media? Next, we want to explore what constitutes a romance fan or romance fandom. What is a romance fan/fandom and how are they positioned in relation to other fan networks? Finally, we want to consider the figure of the romance fan and its construction. How do discourses depicting fans as overly romantic and hysterical frame our understandings of romance and romance fandom? How are fans able to resist these characterizations?

Topics may include, but are not limited to:
* Romance and fan fiction; the application of terms like romance, erotica, erotic-romance, and pornography to fan works.
* The creation, curation, and sharing of visual media (e.g., fan vids and gifs; memes; manips) in romance fandoms.
* The role of sexually explicit materials in romantic fan works.
* Book clubs and reading the romance.
* Romance fan field trips, gatherings, and conventions.
* Shipping and anti-shipping practices in fandoms.
* Romance anti-fandom.
* Social media practices in romance fandoms (e.g., the use of Twitter, Tumblr and Facebook).
* Social activism in online romance fandoms.
* Romance fandom and the event (e.g., comic cons, book releases, movie premiers).
* Teens and youth cultures in romance fandom.
* The figure of the fangirl and “fangirling” as excessively romantic.
* Representations of romance fandom (e.g., in reviews/articles, on screen, in print, online).

Submission guidelines

Transformative Works and Cultures (TWC, is an international peer-reviewed online Gold Open Access publication of the nonprofit Organization for Transformative Works copyrighted under a Creative Commons License. TWC aims to provide a publishing outlet that welcomes fan-related topics and to promote dialogue between the academic community and the fan community. TWC accommodates academic articles of varying scope as well as other forms that embrace the technical possibilities of the Web and test the limits of the genre of academic writing.

Theory: Conceptual essays. Peer review, 6,000–8,000 words.

Praxis: Case study essays. Peer review, 5,000–7,000 words.

Symposium: Short commentary. Editorial review, 1,500–2,500 words.

Please visit TWC's Web site ( for complete submission guidelines, or e-mail the TWC Editor (editor AT

Contact—Contact guest editor Katherine Morrissey, Athena Bellas, and Eric Selinger with any questions or inquiries at romancefans[AT]

Due date—March 1, 2017, for estimated March 2018 publication.

Monday, October 10, 2016

How to Apply for the RWA Academic Research Grant 2017


Academic Research Grant

Romance Writers of America announces its twelfth annual Academic Research Grant competition. The grant program seeks to develop and support academic research devoted to genre romance novels, writers and readers. Appropriate fields of specialization include, but are not limited to: anthropology, communications, cultural studies, education, English language and literature, gender studies, linguistics, literacy studies, psychology, rhetoric, and sociology. 

Proposals in interdisciplinary and cross-disciplinary studies are welcome. RWA does not fund creative work (such as novels or films).The ultimate goal of proposals should be significant publication in major journals or as a monograph from an academic press.


The RWA Academic Research Grant Program is open to faculty at accredited colleges and universities, independent scholars with significant publication records, and dissertation candidates who have completed all course work and qualifying exams. No candidate need be a member of RWA.

Scholars who have won an RWA grant may apply again, for a new project, beginning the fourth year after receiving the award. The application must include evidence of the completion and publication of the first funded project.

Funding and Deadlines

RWA will fund one or more grants up to a total of $5,000. Funds will be calculated and awarded in U.S. dollars. Individual applicants may request up to the total amount.

Completed applications are to be submitted to RWA via online form and hard copy format by December 1, 2016.

Decisions will be announced in March 2017.

Tenure: April 1, 2017, through March 31, 2018.

For a complete grant description and application instructions, write to or visit the Awards section of the RWA website.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Links: Me in Sheffield, New Work, Conference Reminder

Last weekend I went to Sheffield to be part of a panel discussing "Why Read Harlequin Mills & Boon Romances?" with senior editor Flo Nicoll, romance authors Heidi Rice and Susan Stephens and fellow academics Amy Burge, Val Derbyshire and Fiona Martinez. I've written up a post about the event here and Fiona's observations are here.

New to the Romance Wiki Bibliography:
Gates, Sarah, 2016. 
"Feminism, NASCAR and the Italian billionaire's secret baby: Defending the romance genre." Voiceworks 103 (Autumn): 95-101.
Sarah's a romance author and her website's here. Abstract:

Romance novels are widely considered frivolous, trashy and vacuous. They aren't reviewed in mainstream publications like the New York Times Book Review, nominated for literary awards, or well represented at literary festivals. They have been called 'mummy porn'. When I tell people that I write romance, I get raised eyebrows and the topic is quickly shifted - like I've confessed to something embarrassing or shameful. Because when you admit to reading romance, the most common question is 'How can you read that crap?'

Conference Reminder:

Jodi McAlister writes:
The call for papers deadline for PCA in San Diego in April next year is fast approaching! Heather and I would love to continue Eric's work and make this a really awesome, vibrant, interesting gathering of scholars, so please make sure you get those abstracts/panel proposals/etc in before October 1

Saturday, September 03, 2016

Incarcerated Women, Mary Balogh, a Symposium Synopsis and Mills & Boon on the Happy Ending

I've got four items to mention today: a PhD in progress which suggests that historical romance fiction can empower incarcerated women, a review of a Mary Balogh novel which turns into a much broader analysis of romance fiction, a summary of a symposium and news of some "tongue-in-cheek" Mills & Boon (non-romance) publications.


Margaret Jamieson is working on
a non-traditional PhD study that involves writing a historical romance novel and accompanying exegesis, where the main aim is to show how oppressed women (some incarcerated) can become empowered through both reading historical romance novels and engaging with the heroines in these novels. In this context, oppression refers to women who perceive themselves to be isolated from opportunities, and disadvantaged by feelings of inadequacy and domination by patriarchal structures. (155-156)
What makes this particularly interesting is that Margaret seems to be basing this at least partially on personal experience:
As a mature student, Margaret knew she could draw on her life's experience as part of the methodology used in preparing the novel and exegesis. Her vision in starting this journey was underpinned by wanting to show fellow incarcerated women that study was possible, and particularly that reading historical romance novels was enjoyable and empowering. The power in the historical romance resides in its representation of the empowered heroines who subvert traditional expectations of women's roles in marriage and in society. (158)
Having lived with other incarcerated women, the student observed the helplessness that they felt. Many of these women said they would appreciate female role models whom they could both relate to and be inspired by. Many of these women also had a poor understanding of literature or indeed reading. The student believed that by introducing the historical romance novel to these women, it would provide an easy read with a positive outcome on their self-esteem. The historical romance novel can take a lonely isolated woman to a place where she can find companionship and beauty. So this premise was the basis for her research aims. (162)
the student reached a deeper understanding of the difficulties experienced by women in colonial Australia. As her novel developed around the obstacles that her characters experienced, she came to realize that some aspects regarding gender inequality have not changed over time. (166)

The PhD is not yet available to read because it "is still in progress" (156) but Margaret herself is now "free from incarceration" (159).

Danaher, Mike and Margaret Jamieson. “On Manoeuvre: Navigating Practice-Led Methodology in a Creative Writing PhD for the First Time.” Constructing Methodology for Qualitative Research: Researching Education and Social Practices. Ed. Bobby Harreveld, Mike Danaher, Celeste Lawson, Bruce Allan Knight and Gillian Busch. London: Palgrave, 2016. 155-169. [Excerpt via Google Books.]

Rohan Maitzen's review of Mary Balogh's Only Beloved includes plenty of observations about the romance genre as a whole. For example:
The happy ending is fundamental to the genre: it’s what readers expect and what they know the books will deliver. But such positivity, especially when presented in an unapologetically feminized form of popular fiction, does not get taken seriously. At least since the heyday of Modernism in the early 20th century, with its credo “make it new,” more literary value has attached to writing that upsets, rather than satisfies, expectations; more prestige has belonged to unfamiliarity and its discontents than to the pleasures of getting, even vicariously, exactly what you want.

Lucy Sheerman's written a report on the PGCWWN symposium on "Representations of Romantic Relationships and the Romance Genre in Contemporary Women’s Writing" which was held in Sheffield in 11 June. I wrote a summary of the various papers here but Sheerman's report goes into more depth about the relationship between shame, romance-reading and fire, suggesting that "It seems that the idea of shame is rooted in the earliest origins of and attitudes to romantic fiction".

Mills & Boon, in another departure from romance novels
is to launch a series of "Modern Girl's Guides" containing "vital advice every woman needs to survive the modern world".
Tongue-in-cheek guides to working and drinking will be published in November, with more titles to follow. (BBC)
Apparently they're using "fabulous archive photos" so presumably they won't be drawing on their archive of vintage covers again, as they did with their colouring book for adults. I'm most interested in the fourth book in the series: The Mills & Boon Modern Girl's Guide to Happy Endings. Are they planning to mock an essential part of their own novels? I'll have to wait until January to find out.