Discursos e Identidades en la Ficción Romántica: Visiones Anglófonas de Madeira y Canarias / Discourses and Identities in Romance Fiction: Anglophone Visions from Madeira and the Canaries

Vernon Press
Wilmington, Delaware/Malaga
Publication year

A review by Francesca Pierini was published in the Journal of Popular Romance Studies and one by Paloma Fresno Calleja was published in Miscelánea: A Journal of English and American Studies.


Este libro tiene un formato bilingüe. The essays in this book appear in both Spanish and English-language versions. Here's the English version of the abstract:

Disdained by critics for its status as popular and feminine literature, romance fiction not only remains unbeatable in the publishing market in terms of sales, but has also been the subject of interesting academic studies in recent decades. "Discourses and Identities in Romance Fiction" joins this trend by addressing the interdisciplinary analysis of a corpus of novels published in English between 1955 and 2004. Set on the Atlantic islands of Madeira and the Canaries, these texts develop a variety of discourses that reveal a very Anglophone vision of the places visited by their protagonists. In addition to the expected gender discourse, these romances tend to include a paradise narrative that highlights the exoticism of the islands, sometimes awakening environmental awareness. Linguistic and even racial attitudes also come to the forefront, as the writers explore and describe the features of the Other. Neither the characters nor the narrators are oblivious to the clash of identities and the linguistic contact (English-Spanish and English-Portuguese) exposed in this type of novels, revealing the conflicts generated by national, gender and/or ethnic identities behind the apparent simplicity of their love plots.  

I've only included one topic tag, as this refers to a section of the book which is not included as an essay. The essays, of course, are marked with the relevant topic tags. Regarding the teaching of romance, Pierini's review states that:

The volume ends with an appendix devoted to teaching activities based on the themes treated in the essays. The field of Popular Romance Studies is particularly attentive towards didactic issues, chiefly because scholars, seeking to further establish the discipline within academic institutions that still largely neglect its value and significance, have adopted a self-reflexive perspective towards their own work. It is therefore not only commendable, but also auspicious to come across a substantial scholarly work concretely reaching out to students by making its contents approachable and available to them.

This section is also mentioned favourably by Fresno Calleja in her overview of the volume:

This collection of essays is devoted to the exploration of a large corpus of contemporary romance novels set in the islands of Madeira and the Canaries and written by Anglophone authors from the mid-1950s to the mid-1990s. The works under analysis reflect long-held perceptions of these Atlantic islands as strategic locations for British imperial expansion and, after the growth of international travel and tourism in the nineteenth century, as exotic places of recreation, adventure or artistic retreat. These Orientalist tourist discourses were invigorated from the mid-twentieth century by romance publishers like Mills & Boon and Harlequin, which directed their attention to these enticing insular settings with a view to attracting new readers and securing high sales. As explained in the introduction, this comprehensive corpus of primary sources (listed at the end of the collection) was compiled and studied in the context of a competitive research project financed by the Spanish government and led by Professor María Isabel González Cruz of the University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria. This team of Spanish and international scholars have pioneered the research on popular romance in our country, thus contributing to the expansion of a critical tradition so far dominated by North American, British and Australian critics (Kamblé et al. 2020: 9-11). In fact, one of the strengths of the collection is its bilingual character —the eight chapters appear in both English and Spanish—, which guarantees that the book will appeal to an international audience, while also enriching the still scarce list of critical studies on popular romance written in Spanish (the best-known of which is Nattie Golubov’s comprehensive introduction to the genre, El amor en tiempos neoliberales: apuntes críticos sobre la novela rosa contemporánea, published in 2017). The inclusion of a final pedagogical section with practical exercises and questions about each of the chapters is another original and useful feature of the volume. Although the number of questions devoted to some of the chapters (Chapters 3 and 7, in particular) are fewer and less elaborate than the rest, this pedagogical section will surely serve as an effective teaching tool both in university courses and in non-academic forums, such as book clubs and other activities targeting non-specialised audiences. (234-235)

I've put other comments from Fresno Calleja into the entries for specific chapters.

Works in this collection