Introduction

Publication year
2021
Pages
1-23
Comment

In 2020 this introduction was available for download in its entirety, for free, via the "Preview pdf" button at https://doi.org/10.4324/9781315613468 .

The introduction's various sub-headings are:

  • Popular misconceptions
  • Defining the genre

For the purposes of this collection, the romance genre refers to English-language novels that are written in various parts of the world, aim at a broad (mass-market) readership, and center around a love plot that holds the promise of a future with a unified emotional life for two or more protagonists. (2)

  • A brief history of romance
  • Introducing popular romance scholarship
  • Introducing this volume

Given the 40-year history and twenty-first-century proliferation of popular romance scholarship, the need has emerged for a systematic, comprehensive resource for scholars and graduate students researching the genre, as well as for undergraduate teaching purposes. A course on popular romance fiction whose scholarly framework comes from the 1980s would be as misleading as a course on television centered on scholarship that predates cable and digital streaming; likewise, new research on the texts, reception, distribution, publishing, and readership of popular romance cannot constantly return to the same few foundational studies—Modleski’s Loving with a Vengeance (1982); Radway’s Reading the Romance (1984); Regis’s A Natural History of the Romance Novel (2003)—as definitive descriptions of the genre. This volume presents the first overview of popular romance fiction studies as it has evolved and currently stands. It is designed to provide a history of the genre, an overview of various disciplinary approaches to studying popular romance fiction, and an analysis and critical evaluation of important subgenres and themes or topics. Each chapter also highlights new and still-needed avenues of inquiry for future research. (12-13)