Help A Bitch Out

Sociology and Romance: A Dissertation Needs You!

Greetings Bitchery folks in the Northeast US! A PhD student wants to interview you, the avid, intelligent romance reader! Read on:

I am a PhD student in Sociology at Rutgers University and am writing my dissertation on the romance novel industry.  While I’m thrilled at the increase in academic work on romance that exists, a good amount of it is focused in English lit and Communications, and tends to focus on the books themselves.  Not as much is analyzing from a social perspective.  Hopefully that’s where I will help fill a gap.

If you could find it in your heart to convey my appeal to the Bitchery, I would be forever grateful.  My request is twofold:

1. I would like to arrange interviews with local Bitches (NJ, metro NYC, and Philly area—though if I have more than one interested person in a particular area, I’m willing to travel a few hours in driving distance) at their convenience.  The interviews last about an hour (or more, if you’re a big talker!) and I will meet people at their homes, local coffee shop/bookstore/wherever, and happily buy them a beverage of their choice.

2. I would like to arrange interviews with not-so-local Bitches at this year’s RT Convention.  I will be attending (as I did last year) and hoping to spend four glorious days meeting and interviewing readers (as well as attending workshops, which also have endless research potential!).  My caveat to this is—as much as I love meeting and interviewing authors, I have a surplus in my study so far.  If I have time, I will be thrilled to add more to my data, but right now, I NEED readers.  Can’t write a good dissertation without both sides of the equation.

If anyone is interested in setting up an interview with me, either at home or at RT, I can be reached by email at abarra @  Since all interviewing is anonymous, I can’t offer up any of the names of people I have previously interviewed, but I have had nothing but positive feedback from my interviewees. I seek to tell a fair and accurate story about romance.  Only with help can I do that.

I asked for more information about her project, and here are the details:

I am analyzing the relationships between four key sectors of the romance novel industry: 1. Readers (Consumers) 2. Authors (Producers) 3. Books (literally the novels themselves) 4. Social World (US society and its culture)

The dissertation will look at the interactions between all of these different segments and how they create an entire picture of an industry.  To get a better idea of what that means, I’ll give you a main theme in some key relationships:

Relationship between Reader and Book: What are the major emotions/reactions elicited from reading a romance novel?  What of themselves do readers bring to the act of interpreting and accepting (or rejecting) a book?
Relationship between Book and Social World: How do prevailing ideas of gender and relationship equality come to bear on the content of novels?
Relationship between Author and Reader: How has the increase in technology altered the way authors understand and respond to their readers?
Relationship between Social World and Author: How does an author’s particular demographic situation (age, race, geography, gender, etc) affect what they produce?


Help a Bitch Out

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  1. KatherineB says:

    My god, that sounds like fun. I’d love to. Too bad I’m on the other side of the world, literally.

  2. Tibbles says:

    I have a suggestion so that your PhD student can reach more readers.  As we have to have computer access to even get to this site and most people now have home pc’s, your student could use skype to do her interviews.  It is free, readers across the whole country and people in other parts of the world could be reached and said student could still have a talking interview and not have to do the equivalent to a form letter to reach everyone. It may not be ideal, but it might help reach a larger demographic.  Just an unsolicited thought/advice.

    BTW, it is awesome that someone wants all sides of the relationship from beginning idea with author through to us readers and the effects it has.

  3. Ciar Cullen says:

    I’m spitting distance from her, so I wrote her. Should be fun!

  4. Rose says:

    Is this entirely a qualitative study, or will there be a quantitative component as well? I’m sure many people would be happy to help but I imagine few of us will be able to do interviews. A questionnaire, on the other hand, would easier to complete.

    If it’s interviews only, good luck! It’ll take a LOT of work to analyze but I’m sure the results will be interesting.

  5. Tina C. says:

    I’d love to participate, but I believe that I’m too far out of the defined area.  If you happen to decide to hit the Ohio/Kentucky, though, I’d love to help.

  6. Hey, cool! I emailed her, too. Because, natch, Brooklyn has to be in da house.

  7. carla says:

    I would love to help, however, I live in the Boston area……and unable to travel to the locations y
    ou mentioned. I am an avid romance reader and I work in a well known book store and run readers romance groups. Good luck in your quest !


  8. AndreaB says:

    Thanks so much, everyone, for all of your responses and suggestions thus far!  If you emailed me and haven’t heard back yet, please hold tight.  I promise you will get an email back from me very soon.  The Bitchery is the best!

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