Love is global. One gift my writing has brought me is a connection with several awesome Australian reviewers, including Kat Mayo at Book Thingo and Dani St. Clair at Romancing the Social Sciences. (Check out these two awesome sites!)
I missed Kat at #RT16, but she told me about a different kind of romance conference that was happening in Sydney in June 2018: the International Association for the Study of Popular Romance’s “Think Globally, Love Locally?”
But, whoa, academia. I chose to stop after my master’s degree and teach high school instead of university so that I could avoid the pressures of “publish or perish.” (And publish what I wanted to publish, i.e. romance.) But this conference! This looked cool, and I applied. Lo and behold, they accepted my presentation, “History Ever After: Fabricated Historical Chronotopes in Romance Genre Fiction.” Now I have to put it together.
Here is the gist of my investigation:
Over eighty percent of bestselling historical romance books published in the first half of 2018 were set in Britain, either during the 19th century or the medieval period. These two fabricated chronotopes are selectively accurate to history and narrowly focused on high ranks of the nobility—in other words, they are “escapism.” This presentation will consider what escapism means in this context, who it serves, and who it harms. While any reader can enjoy a good duke Regency every once in a while, the net impact of the most popular chronotopes may be to corrode our understanding of history, marginalize anyone writing from a wider palette of settings and characters, and exclude authors of color.
Just warning you, I am probably going to pick your brain in this process. I might be making a survey. I certainly will be talking to as many people as possible.
I especially need to crowd-source some book recommendations. If you know of historical romance books that may be of interest to this project, please add them to one of these two Goodreads lists:
For books outside of 19th century England (Regency/Victorian), Scotland, and the American West, click here.
For books (in any historical time period) that include political, military, or socio-economic conflict or complexity, click here.
Thank you for your help! You’ll be hearing from me.
[Background image of girl in white shirt by Jerzy Gorecki, used with permission under the Creative Commons CC0 Universal Public Domain Dedication 1.0 license. Image of the Sydney Opera House by J. W. C. Adam, used with permission under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.5 Generic license.]