ISSN: 2159-4473

Published in partnership with the International Association for the Study of Popular Romance

Issue 1.2

Interview: Joanna Russ, by Conseula Francis and Alison Piepmeier

Abstract: Joanna Russ is an award-winning science fiction author who wrote one of the earliest feminist analyses of slash fiction. In this interview, Russ reflects on her initial responses to slash fandom and considers its political and social meanings in the 1980s and today.

Pedagogy Report: Embedding Popular Romance Studies in Undergraduate English Units: Teaching Georgette Heyer’s Sylvester by Lisa Fletcher, Rosemary Gaby, and Jennifer Kloester

Abstract: This article outlines one model for introducing popular romance studies to undergraduate English programs: teaching romance texts and topics alongside canonical and contemporary literary texts. It discusses the authors’ approach to teaching Georgette Heyer’s Sylvester in a unit on historical fiction offered at the University of Tasmania in 2010 and analyses student responses to this initiative through examination of selected assessment tasks.

“These are Just Romances: Love and the Single Woman in the Fiction of Rosamond Lehmann” by Emma Sterry

Abstract: This article is a comparative analysis of Rosamond Lehmann's Dusty Answer (1927) and The Weather in the Streets (1936). It positions the romance plot of these fictions as part of a wider narrative concerning the single woman in the interwar years. Drawing on contexts of middlebrow culture, it tracks the single woman's renegotiation of romance in Lehmann's novels, arguing that the single woman appears as a fragmented and conflicted figure.

“Men Conquer the World and Women Save Mankind: Rewriting Patriarchal Traditions through Web-based Matriarchal Romances” by Jin Feng

Abstract: This article examines one Chinese women's literature website by the name of Jinjiang, and focuses especially on a particular type of popular romance, nüzun, or matriarchal narratives. By identifying with a morally ambiguous yet powerful female protagonist, readers can suspend the social and moral constraints placed on their lives imaginatively albeit temporarily, and claim sexual and political power through reading. In producing such tales of female power, authors can satisfy their creative urges and yearnings for empowerment by simultaneously appropriating from and undermining dominant official ideologies and social norms. Ultimately, Jinjiang provides both a new platform for Chinese women to explore their gender identity and an alternative community where women can have easy access to emotional nurturance as well as entertainment and diversions.

“Does This Book Make Me Look Fat?” by Sonya C. Brown

Abstract: The sub-genre of romance that includes plus-size, or fat, heroines seems to open romantic possibility to fictional heroines of diverse body types, which would promote the acceptance of the sexuality and attractiveness of diverse body shapes and sizes for readers otherwise lacking in most popular culture. A thread on the website “Smart Bitches, Trashy Books” suggests, however, that these books often disappoint readers because of several tropes that subvert a potentially fat-positive message. Analysis of the text of several examples of plus-size romances, as well as of readers’ posts and arguments, ultimately reveals deep ambivalence about size acceptance, real and fictional.

Editor’s Note: Issue 1.2