‘Tis the blurb for my romance seminar next semester. What do you think of it? Would it induce you to attend my class?
Every three seconds somebody in Britain buys a romance novel. In the USA romance regularly outsells every other genre, and while overall booksales are currently on the decline, romance sales are not only stable, they are rising. Nevertheless, until recently academia has either ignored romance as a genre of popular fiction, or has approached it with an appalling amount of ignorance and prejudice. However, things are changing: earlier this year a romance conference was held at venerable Princeton, and only a few weeks ago the International Association for the Study of Popular Romance was founded.
In our seminar we are going to explore the history of the genre in Britain, starting with the grandmother of modern romance fiction, Jane Austen’s PRIDE & PREJUDICE. We will see how her world was later reinterpreted by authors such as Georgette Heyer, and how new subgenres of romance emerged in the twentieth century, making romance an ever more varied and complex cultural phenomenon. Special attention will be given to Britain’s largest romance publisher, Mills & Boon, which celebrated its centenary last year.