Saturday, February 13, 2016

Paperback of Pursuing Happiness and Bonus Material

Pursuing Happiness: Reading American Romance as Political Fiction is now available in paperback via Amazon (.com, .uk and others) and to celebrate I've put up some bonus material on my website.

It's a short discussion of just one category romance, which raises a lot of the issues I discuss in much greater detail in Pursuing Happiness.

Friday, February 12, 2016

CFP: The Romance of Science Fiction/Fantasy

CALL FOR PAPERS:  The Romance of Science Fiction / Fantasy
Deadline: September 30, 2016

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.

The Journal of Popular Romance Studies is a double-blind peer reviewed interdisciplinary journal exploring popular romance fiction and the logics, institutions, and social practices of romantic love in global popular culture. JPRS is available without subscription at

Wednesday, February 03, 2016

Out Now! Pursuing Happiness: Reading American Romance as Political Fiction

My new book is out at last! Here's the blurb:
The dominance of popular romance in the United States fiction market suggests that its trends and themes may reflect the politics of a significant proportion of the population. Pursuing Happiness explores some of the choices, beliefs and assumptions which shape the politics of American romance novels. In particular, it focuses on what romances reveal about American attitudes towards work, the West, race, gender, community cohesion, ancestral “roots” and a historical connection (or lack of it) to the land. The novels discussed include works by Suzanne Brockmann, Beverly Jenkins, Karin Kallmaker, Pamela Morsi, Nora Roberts, Sharon Shinn, Linnea Sinclair and LaVyrle Spencer.

"Pursuing Happiness explores the ways that popular American romance novels engage such matters as US gender roles, attitudes toward disability, the myth of the frontier, individualism and community, and racial violence and discrimination. A thoughtful study with a refreshingly topical focus.” — Prof. William Gleason, Princeton University, co-editor of Romance Fiction and American Culture: Love as the Practice of Freedom?

Pursuing Happiness is an insightful and entertaining look at the inherent, often invisible, politics that underlie America’s most popular genre of fiction.”— Isobel Carr, romance writer.

I've got more detailed information about each of the chapters here.

At the moment it's available in Kindle format from from Amazon  .ca, .com, .de, .es, .fr, .it, .uk, in paperback from Lulu and in pdf (and I think epub) from my publisher, Humanities Ebooks.

The paperback should become available from other booksellers in about six weeks or so.

Monday, February 01, 2016

Essays on Outlander (Forthcoming) and a Thesis on Thai Romance

Due out at the end of July this year is Adoring Outlander: Essays on Fandom, Genre and the Female Audience, edited by Valerie Estelle Frankel and published by McFarland and Co. According to details provided by the editor, it will include:
Part II: The Romance Question: Is it or Isn't it?

" 'Linked ... through the body of one man': Black Jack Randall as a Non-traditional Romance Villain", Michelle L. Jones, University of Regina

"The Good, The Bad and Lord John Grey: Observations on Desire, Sex, Violence, Lust and Love", Sandi Solis

"Travelling Through Time and Genre: Are the Outlander Books Romance Novels?", Jodi McAlister, MacQuarie University

"Gabaldon and the Practice of Gay Male Homoerotic Reading", Anthony Guy Patricia, Concord University
Khuankaew, Sasinee, 2015. 
"Femininity and masculinity in three selected twentieth-century Thai romance fictions." Ph.D thesis, Cardiff University.
The main purpose of this study is to examine a popular Thai genre of the novel, romance fiction, with a focus on the modes of subjectivity and discourses of femininity and masculinity to be found in Thai romance novels between the 1940s and 1990s. The thesis also seeks to locate the various socio-cultural contexts of Thai society, which influence the constitution of Thai gender relations and the transformation of gender norms. Additionally, it attempts to address the issue of the usefulness of Western theories of gender and romance, which are widely regarded in Thailand as tools of Westernization and new forms of colonialism. This study suggests that Thai gender relations are complicated, since there are several disparate aspects that influence the constitution of male and female subjectivity. Western influence is one of these aspects that help define femininity and masculinity, while domestic beliefs also play a salient role as palimpsests that are not easily erased. Thus, the representation of various modes of gendered subjectivity in romance fiction concurrently indicates both changes in and the reproduction of discourses that define an „essence‟ of gender identity that accords with traditional Thai cultural beliefs including the deep-rooted idea that the primary purpose of writing is didactic.  (More details here)
and not on the Wiki, since it's not a dissertation/thesis and isn't focused on romance:
Hu, Huizi, 2015.
"Fall 2015 Award Winner: The Power of Novels." The Diana McDonald Writer's Challenge. Parkland College.

"To be honest, I used to think the period when I read so many romance novels was worthless. However, while I am writing this essay and taking an entirely new look at how novels influenced me, I have realized that even these popular novels, which are often underestimated, actually improved my critical thinking ability and my rhetorical ability."

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Good News! More Romance Studies at DePaul

I can't find any more details yet on DePaul's website but Julie E. Moody-Freeman is:
an Associate Professor in African and Black Diaspora Studies.  She received her Ph.D. in Literature and Cultural Studies at the University of Illinois at Chicago.  Her teaching and research interests include studies in Black Feminist Theory, the Rhetoric of Colonialism and Post-Colonialism, African American popular romance fiction, and Black Speculative fiction.

Moody-Freeman’s publications include co-edited books The Black Imagination, Science Fiction, and the Speculative (Routledge, 2011) and The Black Imagination: Science Fiction, Futurism, and the Speculative (Peter Lang, 2011) as well as a co-edited special issue of African and Black Diaspora Studies: an international journal (Routledge, July 2015) on “Remapping the Black Atlantic: Diaspora, (Re) Writings of Race and Space.”

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

A Manly Look at Romance from Behind

Jonathan A. Allan's starting 2016 with two publications in the space of about two months. An article, titled "The Purity of His Maleness: Masculinity in Popular Romance Novels" appeared (online first) in the Journal of Men's Studies on 21 January and
seeks to open a discussion between critical studies of men and masculinities and popular romance studies. The phrase “purity of his maleness” is taken from Janice Radway’s groundbreaking study of the popular romance novel, and from this vantage, the article considers how critical studies of men and masculinities might think about, respond to, and engage popular romance novels and scholarship. 
Canadian cover
His new book, Reading From Behind: A Cultural Analysis of the Anus
has been named one of “Sixteen for ’16” to watch for this spring by a prominent Canadian literary critic.
Allan’s book, “Reading from Behind: A Cultural History of the Anus,” is a study of the anus, the ass, the rear in literary and cultural theory. Taking the anus beyond the butt of jokes, Allan examines why people squirm when it is mentioned, since we all have one and use it every day.
“It was 2014 that was called ‘the year of the booty,’ and 2015 was called ‘a banner year for the male butt,’ but it is both desirable and yet shameful, pejorative,” said Allan, the Canada Research Chair in Queer Theory and an Assistant Professor in Gender and Women’s Studies as well as English and Creative Writing at BU. “We all have one, and it seemed an interesting topic to study.” (press release)
Jonathan tells me there's a "chapter in the book on male/male romance". It'll become available in March.
UK cover

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Call for Papers: Academics at the Romance Writers of Australia Conference (August 2016)

Ain’t Love Grand

Romance Writers’ of Australia & Flinders University

Love and Romance Conference

Stamford Grand Hotel, Adelaide, South Australia

August 18-21, 2016

Flinders University is partnering with the Romance Writers of Australia to deliver two peer-reviewed academic streams at the Romance Writers of Australia national conference in August 2016. One stream will be focussed on Historical Representations of Love; the second will be for Popular Romance Studies. The Love Research Cluster for the ARC Centre of Excellence for the History of Emotions and the International Association for the Study of Popular Romance Studies are partners for these streams and we aim to bring together a diverse and dynamic community of researchers on love and romance.

Love is central in the personal, social, and political construction of how we understand, organise, categorise, and measure our relationships. For historians, cultural theorists, sociologists, psychologists, anthropologists, archaeologists, and literary scholars it is not possible to understand our areas without some understanding of the role of love. For Romance writers, it is the centre of their narratives. This is an increasingly reciprocal relationship. Writers use the work of scholars to give their work immediacy and accuracy, while scholars use popular depictions to explain cultural difference or illustrate cultural paradigms both in their work and their teaching. This conference aims to bring together those who create representations of love, sex, and romance with those who study them through its transdisciplinary academic stream, ‘Historical Representations of Love’ and its popular romance specific stream ‘Popular Romance Studies’.

Keynote Speakers at the conference will be:
  • Professor Catherine Roach (New College, University of Alabama)
  • Professor Stephanie Trigg (University of Melbourne)
  • Dr Danijela Kambaskovic (University of Western Australia)
Deadline for Submission of Papers is Monday 29 February, 2016. Send to:

More details can be found here and for further information please contact: Dr Amy Matthews ( and Dr Erin Sebo (

Saturday, January 09, 2016

New to the Wiki: Latvia and Bertlatsky

In addition to the bibliography of academic articles and books, the Romance Wiki also has two pages for reporting of romance in the media (A-I; J-Z). I thought I'd mention a new item I added to that today, because it quotes Eric:
Why is romance such an easy target for politicians? Eric Selinger, a professor of English at DePaul University, and the academic adviser to the Popular Romance Project, pointed out that conservative politicians have been increasingly sceptical of funding for the humanities as a whole. Within the humanities, popular culture is seen as especially unimportant – and then: “Within popular culture, popular romance is a particularly tempting target because it has to do with women, it has to do with sex. It’s long been seen as a fairly trivial cultural enterprise.” [...]

In fact, the legislative antipathy to romance is an acknowledgement of its high cultural profile – and is therefore a kind of backhanded validation of the genre. Eric Selinger pointed out that politicians used romance as an example of government waste because any discussion of romance novels is sexy and arresting; it generates headlines. [...]

If romance matters enough to be an object of hatred and political manipulation, therefore, it seems like it should matter enough to be an object of study as well.
Berlatsky, Noah, 2016.
'Why books like Fifty Shades of Grey are worthy of study: Lawmakers are calling for Missouri academic Melissa Click to be fired – in part because she conducts research on romance novels, and the hypocrisy is revealing,' The Guardian, Friday 8 January 2016.[29]
Dreimane, Jana, 2015. 
"Authors, Publishers and Readers of Popular Literature in Latvia in the Late 1980s and Early 1990s." Interlitteraria 20.2: 56–70. Abstract Full text

Monday, December 28, 2015

Update on "Women and Erotic Fiction" ed. Kristen Phillips

Kristen Phillips recently posted me a copy of Women and Erotic Fiction: Critical Essays on Genres, Markets and Readers, an essay collection she edited. This meant that I was able to find out more about the contents than when I last posted about the book.

I've now written up a series of posts at my blog about each of the essays in the collection. The first of them is here and it contains links to all of the others.

Monday, December 14, 2015

CFP: PopCAANZ (Sydney, Australia) 2016 Conference

PopCAANZ 2016 Conference

Call for papers
PopCAANZ 7th Annual International Conference
29 June-1 July 2016
Sydney University Village, Sydney, Australia
Deadline for proposals: 1 March 2016

The full CFP can be found here. It invites
academics, professionals, cultural practitioners and those with a scholarly interest in popular culture to send a 150 word abstract and 100 word bio to the area chairs
In the case of popular romance that's:
Jodi McAlister:
Conference information is here.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

New to the Wiki: Women's Uses of Romance Novels (including m/m)

Foster, Guy Mark, 2015. 
'What To Do If Your Inner Tomboy Is a Homo: Straight Women, Bisexuality, and Pleasure in M/M Gay Romance Fictions', Journal of Bisexuality, Published online first. Abstract:
"Criticism [...] often argues that such narratives merely substitute two male bodies for a male/female pair without substantively altering the emotional and sexual dynamics of the relationship. Hence, the male lovers in such narratives are simply acting out a heterosexual fantasy of gay male intimacy. To challenge this view, this essay turns to revisions to Freudian understandings of bisexuality. In so doing, it attempts to relocate this pleasure in the repudiated male identities and homosexual object cathexes that all women are urged to give up in the pre-Oedipal phase as a condition of assuming (hetero)normative gender and sexual subjectivities."
Moody, Stephanie, 2016. 
“Building Social Worlds: Examining Women’s Uses of Romance Novels.” Literacy in Practice: Writing in Private, Public and Working Lives. Eds. Patrick Thomas and Pamela Takayoshi. New York: Routledge. 32-45.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

New to the Wiki: Romance Fiction v. Real Life

Iwai, Gaku, 2015. 
"Wartime Ideology in 'The Thimble': A Comparative Study of Popular Wartime Romance and the Anti-romance of D. H. Lawrence." Études Lawrenciennes 46.
Kempf, Rachel Erin, 2015. 
"Dirty Words: The Writing Process of 'Smutshop'." The University of Texas at Austin, Master of Fine Arts. ["I worked at Siren-BookStop, Inc. for three years, cleaning up manuscripts and penning gay werewolf erotica [...] It was the best and worst job I’ve ever had — the best because I got paid to write and spend my workday making dirty jokes, and the worst because real sex isn’t porn sex, and real women aren’t romance heroines, and love and relationships are messy and complicated and when you spend all day boxing it into the confines of a highly formulaic genre, you’re bound to start getting some messed-up ideas about how your love life ought to be"]
Meyer, Michaela D. E., 2015. 
"Living the Romance through Castle: Exploring Autoethnography, Popular Culture and Romantic Television Narratives". The Popular Culture Studies Journal 3.1&2: 245-269. [This includes a discussion of romance fiction, not just television romantic narratives]
Moody, Stephanie, 2016. 
"Identification, Affect, and Escape: Theorizing Popular Romance Reading." Pedagogy 16.1: 105-123. Abstract
Slušná, Zuzana, 2015. 
"Postfeminism, Post-romantic and New Patterns of Feminity [sic] in Popular Culture." European Journal of Science and Theology 11.6: 229-238.