BN Review columnist and NY Times bestseller Eloisa James isn't shy about defending romance. She just doesn't feel inclined to, any more than she'd take a stand for any other works she terms "fascinating objects of study." James -- a Fordham University English  prof who specializes in Shakespearean plays written for boy actors, and who writes romance novels set in Georgian and Regency England -- would much rather talk romance scholarship with a twist.

That twist is trying not to make an error she feels some academics do when studying genre fiction like romance. Says James today in a guest post during (RBTB) blog's "Scholars on Romance Week," "One mistake academics make is rushing to judgment as far as the effects of reading are concerned. For example, I do not believe that reading a romance about a Prince of Darkness type of hero makes a woman more likely to stay home with an abusive husband."

James is examining in her post today whether trends in romances correspond to certain real-life issues, or even natural disasters, and specifically, what's happening in our culture that makes us want to think, dream and, ultimately read about angels - fallen or otherwise.


Blogging being a vigorous medium, readers have begun responding to James' query, and their comments are excellent places for academics to look for clues about trends, as well as topics for study.  Reader D Haupt suggests angels and paranormal characters appeal because, "Our world is in turmoil constantly and we (me) as individuals feel totally helpless to change anything so to cope I read outside the box."

Thinking "inside" the comment box, as it were, is a powerful place to begin discussions which enrich the connection between those who know an awful lot about romance simply because they read it, and academics who study it. 


Yet we who love romance books aren't all about the reads - and the blog as intimacy- and community-building tool also is a way to hook us up with others who love the stuff of romance - like food!'s new Book Clubs Food & Drink mod Allison Fishman is gathering folks today, asking us to dish up memories of the meal that literally changed our lives.  Not the cookbook we like to page through with our fave merlot.  Nor the recipe we trot out when we want to impress. But the actual tastes, setting, ambiance, friends or lovers present or missing and anything else that made the gustatory triumph or tragedy one you'll never forget.

There are plenty of unforgettable romance novel scenes that are memorable because of food; chocolate syrup and a Suzanne Brockmann novel instantly come to mind.  But in real life - or at least in the digital town hall - it's always fun and educational to spend some time thinking inside the box.

What do you enjoy about interacting within online communities? 
How valuable is user-generated commentary to research or as fodder for research topics?

Please join Scholars on Romance Week at RBTB:
09.22 Eloisa James; 09.23 on the tradition of romance writers/industry educating unpublished authors; 09.25 Gwendolyn Pough of Syracuse Univ. on black women in romance.


by Moderator dhaupt on ‎09-22-2009 02:25 PM

Wow Michelle, I feel like I just graduated with a undergrad in romance literology, I know it's not  word.

The main reason I enjoy these discussion groups, blogs or any e-community is just that, it is a community of like minded individuals who can talk about what's on their mind from the newest read in a series being released to the next big awaited book to hit the shelves to lamenting about one of our beloved authors who's no longer with us. It's kind of like the old Kafe Klutch our moms had way back when only now I could be klutching with my friend from Spain or India or wherever in the world we all happen to be.

I think user-generated commentary is no different then good old fashioned hitting the books research it all depends on the source.

by Moderator dhaupt on ‎09-22-2009 02:26 PM

By the way I love Eloisa's Duchess series and am just about to start another one.

by Author MonicaBurns on ‎09-23-2009 05:13 AM

I love the fact that I can pop in to chat at any hour in my skivvies and when I'm sick as a dog (like now - bronchitis and sinus infection), yet no one has to see me looking horrible and I can enter a conversation whenever I feel up to it. It's a way to chat with friends who love the same thing I do. I think the Inet is a WONDERFUL creation that connects me with people I normally would never had had the pleasure of meeting.


As for research use generated by other users, I think it depends. When I research something, a book I'm thinking about buying or a topic I need information on, I don't use just one source. I visit as many links as possible to find what I'm looking for, and then if possible I'll look off-line. But then I'm a bit cynical about things, so I want more than one opinion. *grin*

by Moderator dhaupt on ‎09-23-2009 09:17 AM

Monica, I'm so sorry you're under the weather. Hope you feel better soon and don't forget drink your liquids and eat chicken soup.



by Blogger Michelle_Buonfiglio on ‎09-23-2009 05:40 PM

dhaupt, this is the Internet: word creation abounds and is encouraged.  'Literology" might not make Urban Dictionary, but maybe we can create Suburban Dictionary, and place it there...    Funny you use the term Kafe Klutch (I grew up part 'PA Dutch' saying kaffee klatch), because I've always said the same thing about many online communities. We don't have time -- or are separated by distance, as y ou say -- to develop 'real life' friendships and connections, so the Internet has been a blessing for many women.  The beauty of UGC from these meetings is that there are so many gems of real wisdom buried in them. I'll happily brag that I'm just smart enough to take advantage of them often and feel sorry for anyone who's not at least as brilliant as I am in that respect.

by Blogger Michelle_Buonfiglio on ‎09-23-2009 05:45 PM

It is a lovely aspect of working online, Monica, the writing as if one is sophisticated, all the while wearing clothes one's slept in a number of days. TMI?   I wonder whether anything you've read in UGC ever has spurred a story idea, or helped clarify one you'd had?  Or perhaps helped you think differently about something you were working on.  The idea of an academic looking to UGC to start research is based in the fact that there are folks who've read romance longer than some of us have been alive, and they've got a lot to share; their knowledge saves us time, and teaches us stuff we'd be lucky if we tripped over elsewhere. 


Of course, we'd never actually research using UGC. Gosh, everyone knows that's what wikipedia's for.

by 1lovealways on ‎09-24-2009 12:56 AM

Monica, hope you're feeling better soon!  I soooo love chatting with others who know what I'm talking about regarding romance novels.  Even though I have friends who like to read, they don't read as much romance as I do.  I never tire of it and sometimes I feel friends can't understand that.   Coming here and saying what's on my mine about a certain book or getting in on a discussion makes me feel included in the romance reading community.  Sort of all warm and fuzzy inside. :smileyhappy:    I lke dishing with someone who knows what I'm talking about and whose interested in what I have to say.  It has given me a whole new outlook and appreciation for my reading and the Internet. 


I find I look forward to reading everyones commentaries from getting new info on books to just the plain old enjoyment of it all!!!  Like Monica, I research a lot, but hey I think it's worth it.  You never know what you might find.  So, here's to you guys (Cheers).  Your knowledge is invaluable!!!  :smileyhappy:

by Moderator becke_davis on ‎09-25-2009 04:19 PM

Aw, Monica - I hope you are feeling better. I know chicken soup is a cliche, but it does seem to work. (And, no, I can't figure out how to put the accent on the "e" in cliche, which is bugging me on this day-after-Punctuation Day.)

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