Abstract: The enduring popularity of the romance novel makes it an ideal genre to use in teaching feminist literary theory because it raises two compelling questions. What is the women’s studies critic to do when a genre dominated by women writers and readers appears to conflict with feminist ideals? And what are teachers to do when that conflict turns up in the classroom: when students feel a disjunction between their pre-existing reading practices and the critical theories that inform their studies? The opposition between feminist theory and women’s popular reading practices, in scholarship and in the classroom, is an especially pointed instance of an opposition often expressed in the scholarship of teaching literature more generally. This article examines the conflict between popular and critical literary reading practices. It then focuses specifically on romance by outlining feminist critical arguments both for and against romance reading. Finally, it recommends that we acknowledge these two areas of dissonance (the conflict students may feel as they straddle different reading practices, and the complicated relationship between feminism and the romance genre), and suggests strategies for making them an analytical focus in class.
Abstract: This article offers a reflection on the author’s experience of teaching a novella by Nora Roberts, Spellbound, to an undergraduate English subject Genre Fiction/Popular Fiction at the University of Melbourne. It outlines the subject’s overarching pedagogical approach, including its objectives, syllabus and assessment, and presents a summary of the lecture on Roberts and her novella, Spellbound that engages with notions of genre, author and text. In the final section, the article explicitly considers readers by reporting on a 2013 survey conducted by the author to gauge students’ reactions to studying Spellbound. This account of teaching Roberts raises questions about the interaction between reading for entertainment and reading for university, and the ways in which an academic context affects readers’ appreciation of different kinds of writing.
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.