Love in a Cold Climate? Teaching Popular Romance at a Swedish University

Publication year
Journal of Popular Romance Studies

Here's the abstract:

This article describes and discusses experiences of teaching popular romance in Sweden, a country where the genre has been more or less invisible until recent years. Starting with an overview of the status and visibility of popular romance in Sweden, our experiences of designing and revising a course on romance is presented. Our projects providing textbooks for students are presented and we share both pitfalls and rewards we have experienced giving this course.


Ten years ago, popular romance was rarely discussed in Sweden and the genre was largely invisible in both an academic and a more general context. In Sweden, the term “popular romance” took a long time to be established. One of the reasons this has changed is because of Simona Ahrnstedt, an author who has been very vocal about labelling her novels romance. She started her career writing historical romance, but got her big breakthrough with the novel En enda natt (All In). In 2015, she became the first Swedish romance writer ever to be picked up by an American publisher (Hoch). In 2018, she created a “Romance Academy” whose goals are to promote the genre in Sweden. This “academy” is not connected to a Swedish University, but is an independent organization whose members consist of scholars, publishers and authors. In order to promote the genre, the academy organizes open lectures, writes discussion posts and teaches how to write romance in creative writing-courses (RomanceAkademin). However, this does not mean that Sweden has been devoid of romantic fiction, and it would be a simplification to claim that Sweden discovered the genre with Ahrnstedt.