We've finally moved into our new home and, much as there are still quite a lot of boxes to unpack, there are quite a lot of long-neglected emails in my inbox. One of them pointed me to Sigrid Cordell's "Loving in Plain Sight: Amish Romance Novels as Evangelical Gothic." I'm hoping it'll inspire me to get back down to work again after my long break because, in her introduction, she gives some reasons why it's worth studying romance novels:
To some extent, romance fiction reflects what a culture fantasizes about and fears. [...] At the same time, romance is also a genre that reflects the ways in which a culture is changing, or, at least, the ways in which the possibilities for fantasy are changing. Just as Harlequin romances in the late 1990s began featuring romances with men who were willing to stay home and help take care of the children in an historical moment when men were taking on increasing roles in the household (such as in Donna Alward’s Little Cowgirl on His Doorstep and Ray Morgan’s A Father for Her Sons), and the wars of the first decade of the twentieth century spawned a boom in military romances (such as Dee Henderson’s Uncommon Heroes series), romances reflect in the aggregate how a culture is changing and adapting to that change. (3-4)
Cordell, Sigrid. 2013. “Loving in Plain Sight: Amish Romance Novels as Evangelical Gothic.” Journal of Amish and Plain Anabaptist Studies 1.2: 1-16.