Author studies and popular romance fiction

Publication year

From the introduction to the volume:

Kecia Ali’s chapter (Chapter 14) defines author studies, including both traditional studies of a literary oeuvre by a named individual and studies of the “author function” which emphasize collective elements of production and reception. It explores gendered reasons for the relative scarcity of author studies for popular romance and surveys the extant literature (monographs, journal special issues, as well as dissertations), using Nora Roberts as the primary example. It concludes with a discussion of promising avenues for future research which, by taking account of popular romance writing, could help reimagine the field of author studies. (16)


This chapter attempts to answer five questions. First, what is an author study? Second, why are there so few author studies for popular romance fiction? Third, what literature currently exists? Fourth, what are promising avenues for future research? Fifth, how might considering popular romance fiction help reimagine the field of author studies?

Defining author studies

An author study is a bibliographic assembly and critical interpretation that puts forth
an account, ideally comprehensive, of an author’s contributions. Unlike approaches
focused on a genre, theme, individual work, or group of works, author studies focus
on specific writers and their oeuvres. Author studies often proceed chronologically,
identifying themes, concerns, and shifts in genre over the course of a career. Such, at
least, is the traditional notion of an author study, which assumes that an author is
a significant figure to be taken seriously as an artist or thinker; such works may deal
more or less extensively with an author’s biography as a relevant element in interpreting their work.(320)