Destabilising Divides and Re-imagining Subjectives: The Romance of Eloisa James

Helen Fordham (Notre Dame University) – Destabilising Divides and Re-imagining Subjectives:  The Romance of Eloisa James

First of all, there was a session between Jennifer Kloester’s Heyer panel and this one. Dr Rachel Robertson of Curtin University did a presentation called Counting on love?: mental illness and romantic engagement in Toni Jordan’s Addition.  It was quite an interesting talk on how mental illness such as OCD and aspergers etc are not usually depicted in novels, especially in romance.  I did listen but I didn’t really take notes nor have I read the book that was being referenced, so I don’t have anything to write up.  However if people are interested in exploring this topic, it looks like an area of potential growth.

And so on to the presentation by Helen Fordham of Notre Dame University

Romance is (still) bad for you – Critics say that:
– bad influence on woken
– poor health and relationship decisions
– give women unrealistic views about what to expect about a relationship

However this is not really true:  women actually able to take control of their own lives and circumstances
– romance is an exercise in self fashioning
James is writing within the narrow societal confines for women
– fairy tale stories
– parodies the sensibilities of traditional heroine
– puts literary references in for her heroes and heroines (John Donne, Shakespeare etc)

– her word is distinctive, ironic, intertextual, and transgresses literary divides that have held in place the critical disparagement of romance and enable a broader imagining of the function and appeal of romance

In breaching established literary divides and reimagining the idea of romance:
– contemporary romance fan is one who breaches both high and low culture,
– reader is one who is able to read across multiple genres for entertainment
– reader is able to have a rich and rewarding relationship and wants to read about that too
– discourse about what feminine contemporary society is broadening

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