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Teach Me Tonight: Musings on Romance Fiction from an Academic Perspective
This is a blog to which I contribute. I have posted on a variety of topics including:
- When the term "romance" came to mean what it does today (i.e a central love story and a happy ending).
- Academic approaches to the romance genre: an overview; musings on how romances might offer 'an insight into the taste and manners of a nation'; clichés/conventions; defining the genre (1), (2), (3); pondering what's at the core of the genre; the happy ending; possible effects of different interpretative lenses on the analysis of the genre; tentative suggestions about possible similarities between romance novels and some other kinds of 'women's fiction'.
- Intertextuality and metafiction (1), (2), (3), (4), (5).
- Assessing the genre as a whole: quality, values and popularity; more on values; respect and popular culture; what constitutes 'good writing'?; are romances literary texts or formulaic stories?; what's 'romantic'?; something about the 'bodice ripper' label.
- The romance reader: as connoisseur - making reading selections, and distinguishing between romances: 1 & 2. In relation to emotion/mood; the alpha hero; the hero in general; glamorous settings and wealth; capitalism and globalisation; different reasons for reading romances; different ways of reading romances; Sternberg's theory of love as a story; the relationships between fiction and reality (1) and (2); the perceived dangers of women reading fiction, particularly romance.
- Romance and feminism; sex, gender and stereotypes; 'feminist sex'; writing 'real men'; femininity, chivalry, class and patriarchy; second and third wave feminism; feminine virtue and martyr-like heroines; the beauty myth (1) and (2); gender and the depiction of protagonists' bodies; the evolution of the alpha male hero; the popularity of the 'rake' in romance.
- Sex education via the reading of romance novels; homosexuality in romance (1) & (2); the reader as voyeur; the differing connotations of the term 'porn' as applied to romance; academic studies concerning the sex lives of romance readers.
- The romance genre, race and nationality: a short history of African-American romances; a discussion of race in the romance genre; sheikh romances; Scottish romances; romantic and 'noble savages'; differences between romance, and romantic heroes, in the UK and US; national identities.
- Metaphor, imagery, theme and ideology: politics in contemporary romances (1) and (2); messages in romance and didacticism; fashion, clothing and characterisation; makeovers, disguises and cross-dressing; metaphorical medicine.
- Spirituality and psychology: sin and redemption in romance; high to low mimetic inspirational romance; the realistic optimism of the romance novel; depression; Sternberg's triangular theory of love.
- Historical and 'wallpaper' historical romances; more on history and the historical romance (1) and (2); Heyer, Austen and historical romance.
- Settings: location; house/home; the weather - setting the scene, characterisation, plot and the pathetic fallacy.
- Male authors of romance/romantic fiction (1) and (2).
- The appeal of the paranormal romance: myths, fairy tales and the alpha male; monsters and deviance.
- Community, friendships and family relationships, marriage, children and babies, bereavement.
- Age; Plato, idealised heroes and heroines, older couples and children; breastfeeding.
As well as looking at themes in romance I've also blogged about famous literary predecessors of the modern romance novel, Augusta Jane Evans's somewhat less literary and less famous St. Elmo (1) and (2) and individual modern romance novels:
- Allen, Louise, 2007. Virgin Slave, Barbarian King (Ontario: Harlequin).
- Amos, Robyn, 2007. Promise Me (New York: Kimani Press).
- Ashley, Phillipa, 2006. Decent Exposure (London: Little Black Dress).
- Balogh, Mary, 2005. The Secret Pearl (New York: Bantam Dell). Parts 1 and 2.
- Bolton, Gwyneth, 2007. Sweet Sensation (Columbus: Genesis).
- Britt, Katrina, 1978. Open Not the Door. (London: Mills & Boon).
- Bevarly, Elizabeth, 2005. The Thing About Men (London: HarperCollins).
- Chase, Loretta, 2006. Miss Wonderful (London: Piatkus). Part 1 and a short addendum.
- Christian, Jill. The Tender Bond. (Don Mills, Ontario: Harlequin, 1981). [First published by Mills & Boon under the title Nurse to Captain Andy in 1961.]
- Cohen, Julie, 2006. Being a Bad Girl (Richmond, Surrey: Harlequin Mills & Boon Limited). Parts 1 and 2.
- Crusie, Jennifer, 2000. Crazy for You (London: Pan Books).
- Crusie, Jennifer, 2006. 'Hot Toy', in Santa Baby (New York: St. Martin's Paperbacks), pp. 1-111.
- Douglas, Michelle, 2009. Bachelor Dad on Her Doorstep (Richmond, Surrey: Harlequin Mills & Boon Limited). Parts 1 and 2.
- Dunn, Carola, 1998. Crossed Quills (New York: Zebra Books, Kensington Publishing Corp.).
- Hart, Jessica, 2005. Mistletoe Marriage (Richmond, Surrey: Harlequin Mills & Boon Limited).
- Hauf, Michele, 2009. The Highwayman (New York: Silhouette).
- Heath, Lorraine, 2008. In Bed with the Devil. (New York: Avon).
- Heyer, Georgette, 1962. The Nonesuch. [This is a summary of a paper presented to a colloquium about Georgette Heyer, which is why the format is a little different from that of the other posts listed here.]
- Joyce, Lydia, 2005. The Veil of Night (New York: Signet Eclipse). Parts 1 and 2.
- Krahn, Betina, 2006. The Book of True Desires (New York: Jove).
- Lamb, Charlotte. 1996. Hot Blood (Richmond, Surrey: Harlequin Mills & Boon Limited).
- Leigh, Jo, 2005. Arm Candy (Richmond, Surrey: Harlequin Mills & Boon).
- Lennox, Marion, 2006. 'A Bride for Christmas', in Christmas Proposals (Richmond, Surrey: Harlequin Mills & Boon), pp. 235-377.
- Martin, Michelle, 1986. Pembroke Park (Tallahassee, FL: Naiad).
- McClone, Melissa, 2006. Blueprint for a Wedding (Richmond, Surrey: Harlequin Mills & Boon).
- Neels, Betty, 1999. Discovering Daisy (Richmond, Surrey: Harlequin Mills & Boon Limited).
- Neels, Betty, 2008. Summer Engagements (Richmond, Surrey: Harlequin Mills & Boon Limited). [The volume contains Uncertain Summer (1972) and Small Slice of Summer (1975).]
- Pade, Victoria, 2008. Hometown Cinderella (Richmond, Surrey: Harlequin Mills & Boon Limited).
- Pollock, Rosemary, 1979. White Hibiscus (Toronto: Harlequin, 1980).
- Schwab, Sandra, 2008. Bewitched (New York: Dorchester).
- Thompson, Vicki Lewis, 2003. Nerd in Shining Armor (New York: Bantam Dell).
- Thornton, Elizabeth, 2004. Fallen Angel (New York: Zebra).
- Thornton, Rosy, 2007. More Than Love Letters (London: Headline).
- Walker, Kate, 2011. The Return of the Stranger (Richmond, Surrey: Mills & Boon). [This takes the form of an interview with the author, focusing on the novel's relationship to Emily Brontë's Wuthering Heights.]