News & Opinion

The Popular Romance Project – A Tool for Readers, Writers, and Scholars of this Popular Genre

by on February 12, 2013

Just in time for Valentine’s Day, check out The Popular Romance Project (PRP). Between the project’s blog and documentary, notable and significant recognition and examination of the genre will be brought to many disciplines such as English, history, folklore, psychology, and anthropology, just to name a few. Another goal of this effort is attracting potential consumers out there who do not know the intricate history, statistics, and substantial worth of romance in culture and society.

PRP was the brainchild of documentarian Laurie Kahn, who partnered with the Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media at George Mason University. Another partner of the project is the Library of Congress Center for the Book.

Video commentary from noted romance authors are one aspect of the blog. Suzanne Brockmann, Caridad Piñeiro, and Elizabeth Essex comment on their personal writing histories and what clicked for them in terms of choosing the romance genre to express their creativity. Other video clips include remarks on the importance of the genre from Darlene Clark Hine, a professor of African American studies and of history at Northwestern University. Sarah Wendall of the website, Smart Bitches, Trashy Books, states in her commentary that romance is “the one place where you will consistently find women’s sexuality treated fairly and positively.”

Librarian/author Crystal Jordan’s interview and video will be of particular interest to librarians. An academic librarian during the day, she’s a romance author during her off hours. She’s written a number of erotic and paranormal romances. While writing her rather steamy novels, her academic colleagues have assisted her in research and editing of her stories.

Another part of PRP is an array of topics of interest to the romance community, whether it is for writers, readers, or scholars. Recent articles in the “Talking About Romance” section have been about black romance newspapers of the 19th and early 20th century, examination of what is considered love and romance, discussion of the virgin hero, and even a look at the romance of President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle.

The final section of the blog is “Behind the Scenes.” There’s video and text on a variety of issues such as knife fighting techniques, pitch sessions, becoming a cover artist, and romance authors’ day jobs. In addition, author Beverly Jenkins discusses her techniques on integrating history and story.

The blog is just one aspect of the overall vision of the project’s creators. Another aspect includes the production of the documentary, Love Between the Covers. This production will follow aspiring and established romance writers on their journey of finding a role for themselves within the romance arena. The filming began in 2010 and the filmmakers continue to collect material at this time.

Between the interviews, articles, and upcoming documentary, librarians are sure to learn something new and relevant about the genre. Something patrons will appreciate, no doubt!


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