ISSN: 2159-4473

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

Issue 2.1

Review: Premarital Sex in America: How Young Americans Meet, Mate, and Think About Marrying

Regnerus, Mark, and Jeremy Uecker. Premarital Sex in America: How Young Americans Meet, Mate, and Think About Marrying. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2011. $24.95.

Review: Chick Lit and Postfeminism, by Stephanie Harzewski

Harzewski, Stephanie. Chick Lit and Postfeminism. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2011. 264 pages. Cloth 978-0-8139-3071-8; $55.00 Paper 978-0-8139-3072-5, $19.50

Review: Boys’ Love Manga: Essays on the Sexual Ambiguity and Cross-Cultural Fandom of the Genre

Antonia Levi, Mark McHarry, Dru Pagliassotti, eds. Boys' Love Manga: Essays on the Sexual Ambiguity and Cross-Cultural Fandom of the Genre. Jefferson: McFarland & Co., 2008. viii + 272 pp. $39.95 (paper), ISBN 978-0-7864-4195-2.

Review: Reading the Adolescent Romance: Sweet Valley High and the Popular Young Adult Romance Novel, by Amy S. Pattee

Pattee, Amy S. Reading the Adolescent Romance: Sweet Valley High and the Popular Young Adult Romance Novel. New York and London: Routledge (Taylor and Francis), 2011. £85.00; £80.00 (eBook); $125.00; $88.00 (eBook).

“Romancing the Past: History, Love, and Genre in Vincent Ward’s River Queen” by Roger Nicholson

Abstract: Theorists tend to conceive the role of narrative in historiography as emplotment (Hayden White), giving “direction” to readers’ thoughts by its generic choices. This paper argues that in such contexts genre is often hybrid, coupled with other genres or even divided internally. A case in point is the New Zealand film River Queen (Vincent Ward, 2005), where romance complicates and extends an historical narrative of violent, colonial hostilities. Romance glamorizes history; it is also a complex form in itself: love romance, quest, captivity narrative. History becomes affective and intimate. At some level, here, love offers history the fantasy of a “new community” (Regis); or, perhaps just a measure of “restitution” (Sebald).

“When chick lit meets romanzo rosa: Intertextual narratives in Stefania Bertola’s romantic fiction,” by Federica Balducci

Abstract: Stefania Bertola is a successful Italian writer of romantic fiction who creatively blends the codes and practices of romanzo rosa, Italy’s tradition of popular romance, with narrative tropes and cultural trends set up by contemporary Anglo-American chick lit. This article examines how Bertola fosters the dialogue among old texts, new ones and their readership through comedy, parody and intertextuality, creating multiple levels of engagement and offering a vibrant and innovative approach to genre fiction.

“Theorising Male Virginity in Popular Romance Novels” by Jonathan A. Allan

Abstract: Although the virginal female heroine is a standard trope in popular romance fiction, the male virgin in popular romance novels has yet to be studied or theorised. This study therefore seeks to explore and theorise the male virgin in heterosexual popular romance novels. Initially, I demonstrate at least four “types” of male virgins: the sickly virgin, the student virgin, the genius virgin, and the virgin as commodity. I conclude this theoretical groundwork by considering Eloisa James’ When the Duke Returns, which brings together each of these “types” of male virginity. Ultimately, I argue that male virginity in romance fiction is complex and is distinct from other treatments of male virginity in other popular media.

“The Comic, the Serious and the Middle: Desire and Space in Contemporary Film Romantic Comedy” by Celestino Deleyto

Abstract: The most interesting things in romantic comedies happen in the middle. It is there that the characteristic tensions between melodramatic intensity and comedic cool, between laughter and frustration, between the social and the psychosexual take place. In this article I want to move away from traditional theories of romcom which privilege the happy ending as the repository of all the meanings and ideology of the genre and theorize the magic space of romantic comedy and its relation with the social world and sexual discourses at the beginning of the 21st century. In order to explore the ways in which this magic space works I focus on two romantic comedies from 2009: The Ugly Truth and (500) Days of Summer.

“What Do Critics Owe the Romance? Keynote Address at the Second Annual Conference of the International Association for the Study of Popular Romance” by Pamela Regis

Abstract: A rhetorical analysis of criticism of popular romance fiction chosen from both the early, influential instances of such criticism as well as from more recent critical work reveals patterns of ethical lapses therein. The special topoi of the literary critical discourse community identified by Laura Wilder provide the coordinates by which to map a better way forward for future romance criticism. An Goris’s response to this argument supplies an alternate, less partisan view.

“Romance and Repetition: Testing the Limits of Love” by Lynne Pearce

Abstract: Following on from my previous work in Romance Writing on the “deep structures” of romance, this article speculates further on the temporality of romantic love: in particular, the problems posed by repetition. In the course of my discussion, I move from a consideration of how the various schools of theory that inform our understanding of romantic love deal with repetition, to some suggestions of how romantic literature has negotiated (or, more typically, side-stepped) the issue, before closing with a reflection on the further insights provided by Sarah Waters’s best-selling novel, The Night Watch (2006). The complexity of the relationships featured in this text enable us to probe deeper into how the human subject’s notional compulsion to repetition (Freud) both generates romantic relationships and tests the limits of our more ideal definitions of love.

“Matricide in Romance Scholarship? Response to Pamela Regis’ Keynote Address at the Second Annual Conference of the International Association for the Study of Popular Romance” by An Goris

Abstract: This paper provides a critical response to Pamela Regis’ meta-critical paper “What Do Critics Owe the Romance?” While it endorses Regis’ identification of the methodologically sound selection of study-texts as one of the main challenges faced by the field of popular romance studies, it also formulates a critique of Regis’ account for being ahistorical and undertheorised. It briefly sketches the genealogical development of the field of popular romance studies and reads Regis’ paper as part of the field’s current process of maturation.

“Belles, Beaux, and Paratexts: American Story Papers and the Project of Romance” by William Gleason

Abstract: The earliest attempts to mass-market romance fiction to American women readers in the late nineteenth century were more likely to fail than to flourish. This essay examines the first romance-centered dime novel and story paper series in order to reconsider this puzzling failure, which previous critics have often blamed on either the underdeveloped tastes or inadequate purchasing power of women readers. Paying special attention to Belles and Beaux, the first romance story paper issued by the publishing house of Beadle and Adams—and in particular to the reading environment shaped by the paratextual material appearing alongside the series’ popular love stories—I argue instead that the publishers and editors of the early romance periodicals lacked the courage of their own convictions, routinely diluting or even undermining the very ethos of romance that their publications were, in theory, designed to provide. Not until publishers gave women readers what they had been promised—periodicals unreservedly committed to the project of romance—did mass-marketed romance finally flourish in the U.S.

“Safe Sex with Defanged Vampires: New Vampire Heroes in Twilight and the Southern Vampire Mysteries” by Chiho Nakagawa

Abstract: Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight saga and Charlaine Harris’s Southern Vampire Mysteries both portray a romance between a human female and a male vampire, borrowing many conventions from romance novels and Gothic fiction. Both series introduce a new breed of vampires that refrain from drinking human blood, betraying the traditional image of vampires as sexually transgressive creatures. The romantic plotlines between the heroines and those safe vampire heroes reflect contemporary women’s lowered sense of danger concerning sexuality and heightened sense of danger in terms of the boundaries of self, yet each of the series shows a completely different development from each other. Twilight ends with a fairytale ending free from worries and responsibilities, while Sookie of the Southern Vampire Mysteries realizes that her safe hero is not safe after all, and that she has to reconsider her perception of sexuality and self in order to negotiate the risk of contemporary romance.

“Translated Romances: the Effect of Cultural Textual Norms on the Communication of Emotions” by Artemis Lamprinou

Abstract: Romance writers employ a variety of linguistic strategies in order to express the emotions of their characters. Studying the translations of romances allows us to examine how emotions are expressed and described in other languages and cultures, based on claims that different cultures favor different ways of conveying emotions. Romances as cultural products offer potentially rich material for this purpose. Employing the concept of Toury’s translation norms, the paper shows how culture can affect the expression of emotions in the particular genre. To this aim selected examples from Greek translations of modern English-language romances will be analyzed and combined with observations on the communication of emotions from modern Greek romances.

“‘The Bells Are Ringing for Me and My Gal’: Marriage and Gender in the Contemporary Greek Romantic Comedy” by Betty Kaklamanidou

Abstract: This article takes a comparative approach to the Greek romantic comedy, a genre whose popularity in the 21st century coincided with a resurgence of its Hollywood counterpart. The goal is to study the ideologies of gender in the representation of weddings and of marriage through textual analysis of the three most commercially successful Greek romantic comedies of the new millennium: The Kiss of Life (To Fili tis… Zois), 2007; Just Broke Up (Molis Horisa), 2008; and S.E.X. (Soula Ela Xana), 2009.

Editor’s Note: Issue 2.1