Response to Eric Selinger’s “Cant and Canonicity”

Publication year
Journal of Popular Romance Studies

This is a response to an article by Eric Selinger in the same issue of the Journal of Popular Romance Studies. There are two other articles on the issue in the same section, by Jodi McAlister and by Sarah E. Sheehan.

Here are some quotes from Moody-Freeman's article:

I am a Black scholar who wants to unsettle the impulse toward canon building. I’ll outline my critique and own modest proposal, but I also want you to understand my positionality and the disciplinary methodologies undergirding my response.


As a cultural studies scholar, understanding production and political economy is crucial to my teaching and publication. I can’t discuss building a romance canon because “white supremacist heteropatriarchal” institutions, to use bell hooks’ words, including traditional romance publishing houses, distribution companies, popular media outlets, and even the Romance Writers of America organization, have been gatekeepers that marginalized straight and queer BIPOC writers.


Canons are not built objectively. How are our perspectives, disciplines, tastes in genres and tropes, and our limitations (funding, lack of access to books, lack of knowledge about Black or writers of color, curriculum needs, tenure and promotion) shaping what we read, teach, purchase for libraries, research, and write about?