Grab your lasso and your chaps, because we’re going back to college to round up some romance in academia links.
First: on 23 February at 12:30 pm at Brandeis University, documentary filmmaker Laurie Kahn, who directed Tupperware!, a documentary about Tupperware and the women behind it, for PBS’ American Experience, will be talking about her new work-in-progress, “Creating the Popular Romance.”
From the press release, sent to me by awesome reader Michael:
The world of romance novels (who writes them? who reads them? who publishes them? why are they so popular? and what do they say about our culture?) is the subject of my next film, whose working title is “Love Between the Covers.” The film will take its viewers to the annual conference of the Romance Writers of America, into the lives of well-known and wannabe writers, behind the scenes of publishing houses, and into the operation hubs of huge participatory online communities of romance readers. Kahn’s talk will invite input as the project takes shape.
All events and lectures at the Brandeis University Women’s Studies Research Center are free and open to the public.
Meanwhile, over at Yale, Lauren Willig and Andrea DaRif (aka Cara Elliott) are teaching a seminar at their alma mater entitled “Reading the Historical Romance Novel.”
The New Haven Register has already covered the seminar, revealing that 80 students applied for only 18 spots in the course.
And guess what is among the required reading for the course? Bosoms! Oh, this makes me giggle like a 12 year old boy. The Yale Herald also discusses Willig and DaRif’s course from the perspective of envy: “The syllabus describes the need for this type of course because “despite the dismissive sniffs, “romance” is achieving not only commercial success but serious academic attention as well.” It was, however, very surprising to see my suitemate come home from the Yale bookstore with books with titles such as Regency Buck, The Accidental Duchess, and to top it all off: Beyond Heaving Bosoms; The Smart Bitches’ Guide to Romance Novels.”
Ha! I love that! Woo! I’m hoping I can make the journey up to Yale for the course at least once in April – but I cannot wait to hear how the course goes this spring. I almost want to incur the student loan debt (and go through the application process) to go back to college. Almost.
Finally, SmartPop Books has a free essay online this week from James Owen hypothesizing that the Twilight series is a romance series, and the books are romance novels. Owen’s argument is interesting, though his tendency to repeat that the books are “all about Romance” undermines his essay:
When the Romance genre was first defined, it arose from the broader concept of Romanticism itself. This was a movement of heroic and noble sagas, bursting with strong emotions and aesthetic experiences. It was about the exploration of possibilities. Even the earliest science fiction (which of all the modern genres is the one most open to possibility) was termed “Scientific Romance.” It was only with the advent of the twentieth century and the more narrow definition of Romance novels as being about two people exploring a relationship that the term both gained acceptance and lost power. But the sci-fi/fantasy genre has retained the reputation it started with: a genre filled with wonder. And so the combination of those elements with Romance is exceedingly compelling—it allows Romance to, in effect, return to its true Romantic roots.
As a term of popular culture, Romance means “bodice ripper.” But I’d like to suggest that with her Twilight series, Stephanie Meyer has achieved a Romance in the old-fashioned sense as well: she’s created a work that explores possibility through the relationship between a girl and a deathless boy.
I’m still asked if I think the Twilight series is a romance, so I suspect this is a discussion that will be ongoing so long as the books remain popular.