On Teaching, Not Teaching, and Teaching The Sheik

Publication year
Journal of Popular Romance Studies

Here's the abstract:

When I began teaching courses on popular romance fiction in 2005, E. M. Hull’s The Sheik was an integral part of my syllabi—only to drop off, a few years later, and resurface in the contexts of my modern literature surveys. This essay explores why I chose to teach the novel, how my approaches to it evolved, and what shifts in my pedagogical goals and my sense of popular romance history led me to remove the book from genre-specific courses, but revisit it as part of Anglo-American literary history, with particular attention to the novel’s treatment of Diana’s whiteness. I share study questions and essay prompts that proved productive in each context, as well as contextualizing materials, including the lyrics to the “Kashmiri Song” that is repeatedly mentioned in the novel, Helen Kane’s period hit “He’s So Unusual,” and discussions of desire, trauma, and narrative from Anne Carson and Lynne Pearce.