Books That Need JPRS Review Attention What New Books (and older?) Should Get Reviewed?
Posted 07 September 2009 - 02:33 PM
In the Call for Submissions we say that "The Journal also solicits reviews (individual and combined) of relevant scholarly works." What I'm keen to know, I guess, is what some of those works might be--not just works on romance fiction, but anything that might be "relevant" to our work as Romance Scholars, broadly construed. I suspect that this would include books on love per se, as well as books on representations of love in culture; I could see work on sexuality, gender, race, and other fields being "relevant," and thus inviting our attention.
One other question we might talk about in this topic: how new do the works have to be? JPRS is a brand new journal, and IASPR is a brand new association, but the study of love and its representation in culture goes back a very long way. Would it be useful to have reviews, or quasi-reviews, of books from several years ago? What about decades ago? I'm sure there are many I've missed. Perhaps recommendations of older works that might be useful? Or would those fit better here, as part of forum discussions?
Please post your thoughts, and your suggestions for books that need attention! Lisa Fletcher's book on Historical Romance Fiction has already been mentioned, and Phyllis Betz's Lesbian Romance Novels: a History and Cultural Analysis. What others come to mind?
Executive Editor, Journal of Popular Romance Studies
Posted 07 September 2009 - 02:55 PM
I think it would be very interesting to include reviews of older works, such as Radway's, Cohn's, and Regis's (though this last probably counts as "recent" rather than "old," given the speed at which academic publishing moves). Many/all of the issues raised by them are still very relevant, and I also think that it would be interesting and useful to create a permanent record of scholarly debate about those books (I'm assuming that there will be a comment facility for reviews as well as for essays published in JPRS). I know, for example, that lots of romance scholars have reservations about Radway's methodology and conclusions. Having a reviewer outline some of those issues for JPRS would make these concerns more accessible to the wider academic community, which often seems to refer rather uncritically to Radway when romance is under discussion.
Posted 07 September 2009 - 07:59 PM
I'm with Laura. I think it would be a great idea to have "reviews" or retrospectives or something for the older romance scholarship, talking about their problems but also discussing what's still usable in them. Even back to Cawelti's book. Because there's still stuff that's important about these books. Maybe one of the older books per issue? Radway would seem to be the obvious start, but I'd love to have An Goris do a review of Pam's book.
Then there's also books like The General Theory of Love--completely interdisciplinary (or outer-disciplinary) books.
International Association for the Study of Popular Romance
"She Who Must Be Obeyed"
Posted 08 September 2009 - 09:56 AM
Of course it's not directly about romance, but it's about all we hold dear, and has received lots of critical admiration and attention.
Theory Groupie and Author of THE EDGE OF IMPROPRIETY
A novel of eros, esthetics, and empire, set in the last days of the English Regency
2009 RITA® Winner for Best Historical Romance — Romance Writers of America®
Posted 08 September 2009 - 03:27 PM
Like Cawelti's definition of popular romance, which, imo, is fantastic. In some aspects it's slightly outdated, of course, but that is only to be expected.
Posted 09 September 2009 - 02:37 AM
Posted 09 September 2009 - 10:41 AM
We should also discuss whether to include reviews of popular non-fiction works related to the genre as well. Beyond Heaving Bosoms would probably be a candidate. Maybe also relevant works from the Smart Pop series of essay collections about pop cultural phenomena. Most of those are about TV shows and video games, but there also are volumes on Jane Austen, Laurell K. Hamilton, Judy Blume novels, etc..., which might be of tangential interest. Actually, some of the TV related collections might be of interest as well, if the show in question has a strong romantic focus.
Another issue to discuss is whether to review relevant academic works in languages other than English. For example, I know that there are quite a few studies on the German "Heftroman" romances (64-page digest sized novelettes sold in supermarkets and at newsstands), though the ones I have seen are older and not very good. I'm certain that there is also quite a bit of work on Eugenie Marlitt and Hedwig Courths-Mahler, two pioneers of German romantic fiction. I'm certain there is scholarship on local incarnations of the popular romance in other countries as well and I think the occasional review of such a work would be useful in demonstrating how broad the field of popular romance scholarship beyond the Anglosphere is.
Finally, another older but still relevant work that might be a good candidate for a review is How to Suppress Women's Writing by Joanna Russ. I've recently reread it for my PhD thesis and was struck by how relevant it still is and that all of the techniques identified by Russ are still in use.
Posted 15 September 2009 - 01:08 PM
I'd love to do a review of Pam's book, but I need someone to teach me how to write an academic review b/c I've never done that before. (hint, Eric, hint)
Also, a suggestion for a book to be reviewed for JPRS is certainly Juliet Flesch's From Australia With Love.
Posted 20 September 2009 - 11:29 AM
After you mentioned the book here, I went and bought it and read it and now I'm trying to figure out how to fit it into the course schedule of my romance proseminar. So thank you for the great recommendation, Cora!
I was greatly affected by Russ's book. Reading her study makes you quite mad, doesn't it? For when all is said and done, very little has changed since 1983 when How to Suppress Women's Writing was first published. Sure, some women writers have been deemed worthy to enter the canon, and sure, new anthologies like The Norton Anthology of Literature by Women have become available, but sometimes it appears as if this had made little impact on mainstream academia. I certainly felt very little of it during my own studies: in German Lit the only female author I ever studied in any detail was Anna Seghers (at one point or another I might have also been asked to read a novella by Annette von Droste-Hülshoff). In English Lit the ratio of women writers might have been much higher, but still, I discovered authors like Austen and Gaskell through the TV adaptations of their works. How sad is that?
Posted 20 September 2009 - 10:17 PM
You're welcome! If I ever end up doing a seminar on writing and gender, I will most certainly use this book.
I initially bought How to Suppress Women's Writing, because I noticed that the male dominated SF and fantasy community tries to pretend that urban fantasy and paranormal romance, which is overwhelmingly written by women, does not exist and hoped for a few good quotes to spice up the thesis.
But upon reading the book, I was stunned not only by how wide-reaching the issue is, but also by how little has changed. The lesser known Bronte novels are actually widely available by now (I have the whole output of Charlotte, Anne and Emily in Penguin or Wordsworth classics editions), but apart from that most of what Russ says still applies. At school, the only female authors we read were Christa Wolf, Annette von Droste-Hülshoff and Anne Frank in German (no Anna Seghers, though) and Sue Townsend in English. University was better, probably because we had a great female literature professor who offered seminars on Jane Austen, the Brontes, gothic novels, Asian American women writers, Margaret Atwood, Anne Tyler, female crime writers and the like, though I know that she often had to fight to get those seminar topics past the more conservative department members. Elizabeth Gaskell and George Elliot were sadly neglected. Besides, I also had a seminar on "The American short story" sometime Grundstudium where we read two anthologies, Great American short stories which included a lot of dead white men and a token dead white woman, and Great African American short stories, which included a lot of mostly dead black men and Alice Walker as the token black women. So wrong in so many ways.
And just recently you have some (Percy) Shelley scholar trying to play up Percy's contribution to Frankenstein, while downplaying Mary's agency in writing her own novel. Or the sad fact that of over fifty third-semester English students in one of my classes, only two had ever read Jane Austen. Or the case of the SF husband and wife writing team of C.L. Moore and Henry Kuttner who always collaborated following their marriage and published under a variety of pen names. Yet when their stories are reprinted today, only the stories Moore wrote alone prior to her marriage are credited to her, while everything post-marriage is credited solely to Kuttner, even though we know they collaborated.
Posted 14 October 2009 - 04:09 PM