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.

Sunday, November 08, 2015

Romance Research in the Canary Islands and Australia

In the Canary Islands, Dr. María-Isabel González-Cruz (Associate Professor, Universidad de Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Spain) is leading a project on:
Discourse, Gender and Identity in a Corpus of Popular Romance Fiction Novels on the Canaries and Other Atlantic Islands [Discursos, género e identidad en un corpus de novela rosa inglesa ambientada en Canarias y otras islas atlánticas] (Reference FFI2014-53962-P)

The novels in this corpus are all set, wholly or partially, in the Atlantic islands (mostly the Canaries) and are written by English Harlequin/ Mills & Boon female authors. The project begins with a corpus of 20 novels set in the Canaries, while the corpus on Madeira and other islands has just begun to be built, including only 2 novels at the moment. The texts cover a time span of almost five decades, from 1958 to 2004, which allows for an analysis of the evolution of their discourse.

The protagonists are usually a native islander hero, or an Englishman with local ancestors, who falls in Jove with an English heroine who either visits or settles temporarily on one of the islands, which are typically described as a paradise with very different sociocultural traditions. Both the narrator and the characters are aware of the sociocultural and linguistic differences and often make reference to them. This provides an interesting framework and material to carry out a variety of analyses related to a number of challenging issues, including identity and otherness, paradise discourse, and intercultural and even linguistic contact, since the texts are written in English but interspersed with Spanish and Canarian (also Portuguese) terms and expressions. These words and phrases perform different communicative functions and reach a wide international readership who become familiar with them. This may contribute, to some extent, to their diffusion and eventual adoption by readers of English or other speech communities, as González-Cruz (2011b) has argued. [...]

In short, our purposes in this Research Projects are as follows:
  1. to carry out an interdisciplinary study of the texts we have compiled so far
  2. to keep searching for more books in order to enlarge both corpora, the main Canarian corpus and the one referring to other Atlantic islands,
  3. to make a comparative analysis of the novels set in this area.
I don't know which novels are included in the 20-book corpus. Can you think of any books you think should be included? I can pass on any suggestions.

Dr Lisa Fletcher recently announced on the RomanceScholar listserv that she's
part of a research team just awarded a 3-year (2016-2018) Australia Research Council (ARC) Discovery Project grant of A$316,000 to study 21st-century Australian popular fiction, including romance. This interdisciplinary project brings together researchers from the University of Queensland (Kim Wilkins, David Carter), the University of Melbourne (Beth Driscoll), and the University of Tasmania (me).

Our project summary: This project intends to conduct a systematic examination of 21st-century Australian popular fiction, the most significant growth area in Australian trade publishing since the turn of the century. Its three areas of investigation are the publishing of Australian popular fiction; the interrelationships between Australian popular fiction and Australian genre communities; and the textual distinctiveness of Australian popular novels in relation to genre. Research is designed to centre on 30 novels across three genres, building a comprehensive picture of the practices and processes of Australian popular fiction through detailed examination of trade data, close reading of texts, and interviews with industry figures.

The maps of Australia and the Canary Islands came from Wikimedia Commons and are either in the public domain or made available under a Creative Commons licence.

Friday, October 23, 2015

New to the Wiki: The "Coming Soon" Edition

Amy Burge's Representing Difference in the Medieval and Modern Orientalist Romance is due for publication in March 2016 by Palgrave Macmillan. It
proffers innovative case studies on representations of cross-religious and cross-cultural romantic relationships in a selection of late medieval and twenty-first century Orientalist popular romances. Comparing the tropes, characterization and settings of these literary phenomena, and focusing on gender, religion, and ethnicity, the study exposes the historical roots of current romance representations of the east, advancing research in Orientalism, (neo)medievalism and medieval cultural studies. Fundamentally, Representing Difference invites a closer look at medieval and modern popular attitudes towards the east, as represented in romance, and the kinds of solutions proposed for its apparent problems.
Women & Erotic Fiction: Critical Essays on Genres, Markets & Readers was published earlier this year for Kindle but isn't due for publication as a paperback until November. Unfortunately I haven't seen a copy and the snippets of information available online aren't helping me identify which of the essays deal with romance fiction. Even the titles aren't necessarily that helpful because some people use "romance" in a broader sense than the RWA or Pamela Regis do (and those are the definitions guiding me in my selection of items for the bibliography). I've added the following to the Romance Wiki bibliography:

Morrissey, Katherine, 2015. 
“Steamy, Spicy, Sensual: Tracing the Cycles of Erotic Romance.” Women & Erotic Fiction: Critical Essays on Genres, Markets & Readers. Ed. Kristen Phillips. Jefferson: McFarland, 2015. 42-58.
Veldman-Genz, Carole, 2015. 
"Selling Gay Sex to Women: The Romance of M/M and M/M/F Romantica." Women & Erotic Fiction: Critical Essays on Genres, Markets & Readers. Ed. Kristen Phillips. Jefferson: McFarland, 2015. 133-149.

I'd be grateful if anyone could let me know which of the other essays in the volume should also be included:

  • Introduction: Shattering Releases (Kristen Phillips)
  • From Black Lace to Shades of Grey: The Interpellation of the "Female Subject" into Erotic Discourse (Simon Hardy)

  • Refiguring Penetration in Women’s Erotic Fiction (Amalia Ziv)

  • Erotic Pleasure and Postsocialist Female Sexuality: Contemporary Female "Body Writing" in China (Eva Chen)

  • Good Vibrations: Shaken Subjects and the Disintegrative Romance Heroine (Naomi Booth)

  • On Not Reading Fifty Shades: Feminism and the Fantasy of Romantic Immunity (Tanya Serisier)
  • Permissible Transgressions: Feminized ­Same-Sex Practice as ­Middle-Class Fantasy (Jude Elund)

  • The Politics of Slash on the High Seas: Colonial Romance and Revolutionary Solidarity in Pirates Fan Fiction (Anne Kustritz)

  • Male Homoerotic Fiction and Women’s Sexual Subjectivities: Yaoi and BL Fans in Indonesia and the Philippines (Tricia Abigail Santos Fermin)

  • Selling Authentic Sex: Working Through Identity in Belle de Jour’s The Intimate Adventures of a London Call Girl (Victoria Ong)

  • Sexing Education: Erotica in the Urban Classroom (Alyssa D. Niccolini) 

Monday, October 12, 2015

RWA Academic Research Grant 2016

Every year the Romance Writers of America offer funding for research into the genre.
The objectives of the program are:
  1. To support theoretical and substantive academic research about genre romance texts and literacy practices.
  2. To encourage a well-informed public discourse about genre romance texts and literacy practices. 
 Here are some more details of who's eligible to apply:
  • Amount: up to $5,000. Funds will be calculated/awarded in U.S. dollars.
  • Tenure: April 1, 2016 through March 31, 2017
  • Completed applications to be submitted to RWA in both e-mail (RTF) and hard copy format.
  • Decisions will be announced in March 2016.
The RWA 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 the RWA.
This is definitely not limited to academics in English literature:
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. The ultimate goal of proposals should be significant publication in major journals or as a monograph from an academic press. RWA does not fund creative work (such as novels or films).
There's more information on the RWA website.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Romance in the Archives

On 2 October Sarah Wendell posted a podcast of her interview of
Caryn Radick, who is the Digital Archivist and the Special Collections and University Archives at Rutgers University [...] has a cool research project where she is investigating how romance writers use archives, and she’s also very interested in depictions of archivists in fiction from the romance genre and other genres as well.
The transcript was put online on 4 October and I thought I'd pick out the bits most directly about Caryn's research.
Caryn: [...] I’ve been focusing on whether romance writers use archives when they’re writing their works, because when I was younger I started reading historical romances, and I learned quite a bit of history from them, so I figured somebody must be doing the research, and from what I understand, they do.
Sarah:  So you’re looking at how romance writers use historical archives in their writing.

Caryn:  Correct. [...] I constructed a survey which I was fortunate enough to be able to circulate through Romance Writers of America, and I got some really good responses. [...] Yeah, a lot of people who responded to the survey, a lot of them just really, said they really want to get those details of time and place correct, but they also like to get a voice that represents the time period or place that they’re looking at.  One of the things I really appreciated was there was a certain amount of, of reverence and enthusiasm for using archival materials which reflects what it was like for me when I was first getting into the profession.  The, the aspect of, wow, this is a diary that somebody wrote in the nineteenth century, and I can’t believe you’re letting me touch this.
Sarah:  Yes!

Caryn:  That’s fine!  It, it’s great.  Most indicated that they would really love it if there was more information available online, which wasn’t exactly a surprise, because I think the expectation these days is that things are online.  People are a little surprised when you tell them that, no, actually, you’re going to have to come in to see that, or, you know, we can try to give you some information, but it, it’s not going to be available online.  And another aspect that, that didn’t surprise me was that some people were very enthusiastic or wanted to know more about how to use archives, but they felt that they didn’t quite know how to get started, which is, which is pretty common. [...]

Caryn:  [...] So, back in, I think it’s 2011, 2012, romance hit the archivists’ radar when Protected by the Prince by Annie West came to our attention, because the heroine of that book is an archivist, and, you know, being surprised that this –

Sarah:  You guys must have been like, wait, what?  Seriously?  She’s us?  Woohoo!

Caryn:  Yes.  She’s an archivist, and we’re, yay, there’s an archivist!  Wait, oh.  She’s wearing glasses.  Oh, she’s kind of frumpy.  [Laughs] [...] so it was kind of a moment of fun for, for the archives community, where suddenly, hey, there’s discussion about, there’s this book, it’s got an archivist heroine, probably a little bit making fun of the book and, and as I said, the stereotype of the archivist in it, and there was, there was even a, a blog had a contest to write your own archival romance, and there were a few other discussions, and then it kind of just went its own ways, as things do, but since I had read romance when I was younger and I, I’ve known some romance writers and I’ve gone to a couple of the events, it was in the back of my mind at the time that, you know, actually, now that I think about it, I know that romance writers that I’ve met seem to also be pretty detail-oriented and care about getting the, their novels right, and I started wondering if they use archives, and I suspected they did.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

New to the Wiki: The Canary Islands, Fatherhood, First World War Romance, Interracial Romance, Orphans, SEALS

Items whose titles are hyperlinked are currently available free online in their entirety.
Chelton, Mary K., 2015. 
"Readers' Advisory: There Seem to be More SEALs in Romance Fiction than in the US Navy, and if so, Why Does it Matter?" Reference & User Services Quarterly 55.1: 21-24. Abstract
Edlins, Mariglynn. 
"Superhero, Sleeping Beauty, or Devil? The Making of Orphan Myths and Public Administration". [What stories exist that might influence how street-level bureaucrats think about children who are separated from their parents? [...] In this paper, I explore the narratives of superhero stories, romance novels, and horror films in order to identify the orphan archetypes they portray.]
González-Cruz, Maria-Isabel. 2015. 
"Love in Paradise: Visions of the Canaries in a Corpus of Popular Romance Fiction Novels". Oceánide, Journal of the Spanish Society for the Study of Popular Culture SELICUP, vol. 7.
Jagodzinski, Mallory, 2015. 
Love is (Color) Blind: Historical Romance Fiction and Interracial Relationships in the Twenty-First Century. PhD dissertation, Graduate College of Bowling Green State University. [This dissertation analyzes three historical romance novels — Secrets of a Scandalous Heiress by Theresa Romain (2015), The Duke of Shadows by Meredith Duran (2008) and The Heiress Effect by Courtney Milan (2013)]

King, Laura, 2015
The Perfect Man: Fatherhood, Masculinity and Romance in Popular Culture in Mid-Twentieth-Century Britain’, in Love and Romance in Britain, 1918-1970, ed. Alana Harris and Timothy Willem Jones (Houndmills, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan), pp. 41–60.
Potter, Jane, 2015. 
"‘Khaki and Kisses’: Reading the Romance Novel in the Great War." Reading and the First World War: Readers, Texts, Archives. Ed. Shafquat Towheed and Edmund G. C. King. Houndmills, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan. 29-44. Excerpt

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Teaching Romance at Ithaca College

Ithaca College's Jennifer Wofford will be teaching a seminar on romance this semester (fall 2015):

Reading Popular Romance
Jennifer Wofford
Theme: Inquiry, Imagination, and Innovation; Perspective: Social Sciences

CRN 24024 ICSM 10824-01, TR 04:00 PM-5:15 PM, M 12:00 PM-12:50 PM
U.S. Representative Matt Salmon (R-Ariz.) introduced a bill in 2014 proposing to prohibit the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) from funding any project relating to the research of love or romance (H.R.5155). Yet, popular romance is the highest selling book genre in the world today, representing the largest share of sales revenue in the industry. Moreover, 84% of romance readership are women. Popular romance is a women’s industry, perhaps the largest in the US. Yet a US legislator made a point of crafting a law against it. Why? This courses uses popular romance as both a cultural subject and as a vehicle of inquiry into readers and reading. It asks questions like: What is romance? Who are our heroines? What is a reader? Why are women reading and writing these stories? How have archetypes and plot lines changed since the 1960s, when mass market romance novels emerged, and what does that say about fans of the genre? What’s the relationship between literature and commerce? Should popular romance be studied? If so, for what purpose?

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Last Call: PCA Romance Proposals (Oct. 1 Deadline)

--Eric Selinger

In my young and dapper days (see above) I didn't worry much about conference deadlines, either from the proposal side--sure, sure, I'll get it done; don't bother me while I'm thinking--or from the side of the conference organizer. Older and wiser, I worry...but you can help!

Next Thursday, October 1, is the deadline for you to propose a talk for the PCA National Conference in Seattle, March 22-26.  The Romance Area is looking for papers on love, romance, and the popular culture of romantic love: any medium, any period, anywhere in the world.  

We have several special events lined up this year, including a panel on diversity in historical romance featuring authors Rose Lerner, Koko Brown, and Lori Witt (more may join them!) and a screening of the full, completed version of Love Between the Covers, the documentary film by Laurie Kahn. 

Papers already accepted cover a wide range of topics and media:  popular romance novels, queer readings of classic texts, masculinities and heroes, rape discourse and the discourse of desire, paranormal romance and urban fantasy, romance pedagogy, and more.

Please check out the Romance Area Call for Papers for more details and topic ideas, and if you have any questions about whether a topic would be appropriate, just ask!

Saturday, September 19, 2015

New to the Wiki: Genre Labels Affect Translation; Romance and PTSD

Bianchi, Diana and Adele D'Arcangelo, 2015. 
'Translating History or Romance? Historical Romantic Fiction and Its Translation in a Globalised Market', Linguistics and Literature Studies 3.5: 248-253.
They look in particular at two translations into Italian of Diana Gabaldon's Outlander. The first, "At a paratextual level [...] was clearly interpreted as a romance" while the second seemed to indicate that the novel was historical fiction. The differences were not only external:
In particular, the several cuts, omissions and general manipulation of the first translation indicate that translating a book as a ‘romance’ authorizes radical interventions of a kind that are more typical in the most formulaic type of romantic fiction such as the Harlequin romances [...]. The second translation, on the contrary, does not present substantial cuts and remains, on the whole, fairly close to the source text. (251)
Holden, Stacy E. and Charity Tabol, 2015. 
'In Sickness and In Health: Representations of PTSD in Post-9/11 Romance Novels', albeit 2.1.
The novelists writing these tales do not craft a character with whom a veteran would identify, and this is in part because of what Johnson notes are the “parameters of the genre,” which demand a Happily Ever After. But, as we argue in this article, it is also because the American public is unwilling to accept disabled veterans whose lives—and basic dispositions—have been ineluctably changed by the US decision to go to war. Ultimately, romance novels that focus on disabled veterans who find healing in love reveal a widely held fantasy about PTSD. Although offering a simulacrum of the sequelae of combat trauma, a closer examination of the text reveals some misinformation about combat-related PTSD. And so, contemporary romances expose a general reluctance in the US to accept wounded warriors with chronic difficulties.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Teaching Tainted Lit: Sneaking Romance Into the Classroom

Teaching Tainted Lit: Popular American Fiction in Today's Classroom is available for pre-order now (it'll be published on 15 November 2015). It contains:
Losano, Antonia, 2015. 
"Sneaking It In at the End: Teaching Popular Romance in the Liberal Arts Classroom," Teaching Tainted Lit: Popular American Fiction in Today's Classroom, ed. Janet G. Casey (Iowa City: U of Iowa P), pp. 77-88.

Losano details the difficulties she had teaching popular romances. On her first attempt she introduced Heyer's Frederica to a "senior seminar course on canonicity and literary aesthetics" (81) but
Unfortunately, Heyer's novel was received with only derision and contempt. [...] The kicker came [...] when one student confessed that he didn't actually think much of either [...] Pride and Prejudice or Frederica. Maybe if he'd read Pride and Prejudice in a different context, he argued, he wouldn't have noticed that it was just about romance and not much else. Much of the rest of the class nodded in agreement. (82)
That did set Losano's teaching of popular romance back for a while, but she kept trying and eventually found more productive ways to bring popular romance fiction into the classroom. There's an excerpt of her article here.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Help an Academic Out: "Till Death Us Do Part"

Daniel K Judd is
a professor looking for the history of the phrase: "Until death do us part." I'm also researching what the wording of the various denominations would have been in America from 1830 - 1850. Thank you for any help you may be able to provide.
Anyone got any ideas/information they could share with Daniel?

[Edited: Emma Barry mentioned on Twitter that it's in the Book of Common Prayer. A quick Google turns up this, from the 1789 U. S. Book of Common Prayer:
I M. take thee N. to my wedded wife, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death us do part, according to God's holy ordinance; and thereto I plight thee my troth. 
Also via Twitter, Ros Clarke's got us back to the 11th century and the Order for Consecration of Marriage: Sarum Use:

I N. take thee N. to my wedded wife, to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, till death us depart, if holy Church will it permit, and thereto I plight thee my troth.

Ros thinks " 'till death us depart' [...] was said in English not Latin, so no translation needed by Cranmer, though he put 'do part'. Don't know when that shift happened, though."]

Tuesday, September 08, 2015

Something Old, Something New (Romance Teaching 2/2)

--Eric Selinger

Quick Recap: the "old" is me, the "new" is the set of texts I just finished teaching in a summer romance class.  I blogged about three of those in part 1--Maya Rodale's Dangerous Books for Girls, Laura Florand's The Chocolate Thief, and A Bollywood Affair by Sonali Dev--and now I'll post about the rest, in the order I taught them.

Book #4: Sherry Thomas, My Beautiful Enemy.  I had heard great things about this novel for months, but hadn't read it, so I put it on my summer syllabus.  It's a historical novel set partly in China and partly in England, and it moves around chronologically between the 1881 and the early 1890s; it's also, as Thomas has said, an homage to the wuxia martial arts fiction and film that the author grew up on, which I take to be an instance of "Romance" (in Northrop Frye's sense) from a non-Western tradition.
  • What Went Well:  I find this a beautiful, haunting novel: one of those romances I keep thinking about long after I've finished it.  We had a great discussion of the heroine, and of what Thomas does (and does not do) with her biracial heritage; we had a great time discussing the hero and contrasting him with those of our first two novels, using and then complicating the "alpha" and "beta" terminology that you find in romance reviews.  The tone and structure of the novel were sharp contrasts as well, so students began to glimpse the variety available within the genre. Wonderful discussion of the novel's allusions to other narratives and texts, especially to the Cowherd and the Weaver Girl, which comes up a few times, and to The Heart Sutra, an engraving of which turns out to be central to the plot.  (I'm a sucker for allusions.) One Chinese student offered some great observations about how the novel deals with its paired generic inheritance (wuxia and Western romance fiction); unfortunately, due to medical issues, she was only there for a portion of the discussion, and we didn't really finish it.
  • What Went Less Well:  I'd originally had students order both My Beautiful Enemy and its non-romance prequel, The Hidden Blade. When it became clear that students were falling behind in the reading, I dropped the prequel, but simply knowing there was one threw some students off, and they struggled to see My Beautiful Enemy as a stand-alone text. Others found the novel's structure, which loops around between two time-frames, difficult to follow when reading quickly for class.  None was prepared for our allusion discussion, but that didn't really surprise me.  It's not as though the Heart Sutra is an easy text to think through, no matter the context!
  • What I'd Do Differently Next Time:  I'd really like to teach the pair of novels, as originally planned, and I want to find some way to think through and set up the Buddhist side of the novel more effectively, the way I do with Christian / Biblical contexts for other novels.
5) Alex Beecroft, Blue-Eyed Stranger.  I've been teaching British novelist Alex Beecroft more or less continuously since 2009, when her first novel, the historical m/m romance False Colors, was published.  Blue-Eyed Stranger is one of her new trilogy of contemporary novels, also m/m romances, and like the other two, it deals a lot with issues of difference: in this case, racial difference (one of the heroes is of Sudanese descent; the other is white) and disability (one of the heroes is bipolar). One hero does historical re-enactments of Vikings, the other is a Morris dancer, so the novel offers not only some interesting meditations on history and diversity, but also the chance to learn something about Morris dancing and folk music, as the books before it in the syllabus offered us the chance to learn about wuxia and Bollywood film.
  • What Went Well:  Great discussion of the novel's problematic packaging, which does not offer any image of the black hero, Martin; great discussion of the novel's themes and politics, which students thought stood in sharp contrast with that packaging.  Several students in the class deal with depression or bipolar disorder, and they were fascinated by the text, although one was quite wary until she read that the author was fictionalizing her own experience; several students were fascinated by the differences between how this British novel dealt with race and homosexuality vs. what they'd have expected from an American interracial m/m romance.  Beecroft's blog posts about folk culture were helpful in giving context to the novel and in thinking about the ways the novel might be framing popular romance writing as similar to folk culture practices (rather than commercial / luxury culture practices, as in the Florand novel). We had fun watching YouTube clips of Morris dancing, too.
  • What Went Less Well:  Blue-Eyed Stranger works well both as a love story and as a novel of ideas, a book about historical romance as a genre (albeit refracted through discussions of historical re-enactment, Morris dancing, and folk music sessions).  I put it on the syllabus before Beverly Jenkins's historical novel Captured to set up and give us terms to talk about the Jenkins, but in retrospect, it might have worked better afterwards, since it ended up preempting some of the things students might have said about that book.  
  • What I'd Do Differently Next Time:  In the fall I'm going to teach the first book from Beecroft's new trilogy, Trowchester Blues, and in the winter I'll probably try the third one.  Nothing jumps out at me as a different approach to try for this one, other than perhaps to assemble a better set of audio-visual supplements (dancing and music and Vikings) to show my students.  It might also be interesting to teach all three books together at some point--I've thought about doing that with Victoria Dahl's Talk Me Down, Start Me Up, and Lead Me On, which work well together and would teach well together, too.
6) Beverly Jenkins, Captured.  In the ten years I've been teaching romance, almost every survey class I've done has featured a novel by Beverly Jenkins.  Usually it's been Something Like Love, which was the first novel I read by her, and which teaches beautifully, because a version of what the novel is doing with history (filling us in, revising our sense of the past) takes place within the text itself, as characters use stray bits of knowledge to make things happen in their fictional world.  I tried Captured when it first came out, but then went back to Somethig Like Love; this year I decided to try Captured again, because I was trying to play up the armchair travel settings of my course, and it's a pirate romance set in the Caribbean during the American revolution.
  • What Went Well:  a great discussion of the novel's cover and back-cover copy, which use genre tropes in ways that the novel itself often avoids or varies; good comparison / contrast work in terms of the hero, the heroine, the barriers, and other elements; a very interesting discussion of the romance novel (this particular one and the genre more generally) as alternative historiography. 
  • What Went Less Well:  the cover discussion was fascinating, but when it started again the second day, things began to drag; several extravagant moments in the novel's plot drew skepticism from students, and here (as elsewhere) I found myself wondering whether this novel wouldn't teach better if I had it paired with another pirate romance, so that the particular tropes of that subgenre were more visible as conventions which Jenkins then plays with.
  • What I'd Do Differently Next Time:  Captured is the third Jenkins novel I've taught, and for my students I'd have to say that it taught almost as well as Something Like Love, and better than Topaz.  There are several others I'd like to try--Indigo, which has been re-released as an e-book, and The Taming of Jessie Rose, which has also come back out now--and I'd also like to begin pairing Jenkins's African American historical romances with some of the new voices in that subgenre.  (I'm thinking here especially of Piper Huguley's Migrations of the Heart series, and of the Brightest Day anthology.)  Since the discussion of romance as historiography went so well, I'd like to try assigning my students Hsu-Ming Teo's essay on that topic, from the New Approaches to Popular Romance Fiction anthology, even though it focuses on a novel from a different author and time-period, Bertrice Small's The Kadin.  
  • Note to Self:  Try teaching The Kadin sometime alongside Magnificent Century, the Turkish soap opera.  
7) Meljean Brook, Riveted.  Although my students split on many of our novels--some liking the book, some wary or resistant or simply disengaged--there was unanimous enthusiasm for our last novel, the steampunk romance Riveted.  Students loved the world-building, the characters, and the politics of the novel; they were both fascinated by it and emotionally caught up in it.  
  • What Went Well:  great discussion of gender in the novel, especially its construction of masculinity; interesting discussion of disability and sexual politics; the genre-hybridity of the book, which nods to the history and conventions of "scientific romance" (as science fiction used to be called) as well as to the popular romance novel.  
  • What Went Less Well:  nothing, really.  A win all around.
  • What I'd Do Differently Next Time:  I'm teaching this novel in the fall, actually, in a unit on romance and SF/Fantasy.  I'll be teaching it between Alexis Hall's Prosperity , a "queer steampunk western set in a city in the sky," and The Midnight Hunt, a lesbian werewolf romance by L. A. Raand (AKA Len Barot / Radclyffe).  My only concern is that one week might not be enough time to do the book justice, but we'll see how it goes!
That's the lot of them, folks!  Six novels and one work of criticism; of the new books in the group, I'd say two (My Beautiful Enemy and Riveted) are on my list of novels to teach again as soon as I get the chance, and others will likely come round again once I've had the opportunity to test drive some other recent romances, too.  My syllabus had grown a little stagnant since 2009-10, which worked for me as a teacher but not so well for me as a scholar, trying to keep up with the current state of the genre, and my students were beginning to wonder why I would talk about a book from six or seven years ago as a "new" book.  As I try new texts, I'll try to note them here.