After so many years in academia and dozens of conferences, finally there’s one I would have liked to go to, but missed. There’s an article on the Huffington Post about a conference at Princeton in which the topic of discussion was the current state of the romance genre.
According to the article, Professor Sally Goede talked about the Into the Wilderness series. This is fantastic of course, and I’m very pleased. I wish they hadn’t misspelled Sara’s name in the article, but hey.
The really amusing thing here is that academic annual conferences — the MLA, for example — is a hotbed for romance of all kinds. Except the fictional.
An excerpt from Rendell’s piece for the HuffPo:
Romances offer very different things to very different readers, therefore, and to lump the genre and its audience together is short-sighted – and problematic. This point was driven home to me during Professor Emily Haddad’s paper about the depiction of the Middle East in romances featuring sheikhs. Haddad drew on Edward Said’s theory of Orientalism which describes the way the West constructs and “others” the East through its writings and discourses. For too long, romance has been the “East” and “other” of the literary world: talked about in generalities, pigeonholed, and not understood for its nuances and variety.
I may not have gotten my answer for why romance is selling so well in our troubled times, but the Princeton conference taught me that to rush to conclusions about romance fiction is to flatten out a rich, varied, and continually evolving genre. In the end, though, I did conclude one thing. People read and enjoy romance just as people deal with hard economic times: differently.