The Academic Study of Romance?


If I could go back and re-do my college major I probably wouldn’t do anything differently. I love working in marketing and I love the digital sphere. I even used to be a semi-expert on transmedia storytelling – which I’m looking to get back into. (Part of the draw of transmedia is the storytelling world and having characters and aspects of the story live on long past one medium such a book…but that is a post for another day!)

However, what I would do differently is add another major or minor in Romance and Pop Culture Studies. It’s a new category (semi-made up) but it would be awesome. Studying social norms, gender expectations, and cultural events and how those are reflected in the romance genre of the day would be really cool. Even cooler? How the romance genre has influenced these same criteria and whether or not romance is empowering and a feminist tool for women. And while I’m not on the forefront of this kind of discovery, I’m really excited about it. Maybe one day I’ll throw my hat into the ring, but right now I’m enjoying being the student and the observer – basically consuming all of the academic research, findings, and suggestions that coming from some pretty smart women.

For fellow romance readers interested in learning more…here are a few quick links for you!

Popular Romance Project – is a documentary about the romance industry and genre. They’ve been on a bit of hiatus on social, but I’m hoping that means they are getting closer to finishing the project!

Dangerous Books for Girls: The Bad Reputation of Romance Novels, Explained – is a more academic and scholarly review of the romance genre and it’s readers. It’s written by romance author Maya Rodale and looks awesome. If you want to contribute, Maya is currently surveying romance readers on their perceptions and passions surrounding romance. Take the survey here!

Unsuitable: Conversations about women and popular fiction – a new public event series that goes along with a new romance course being taught at Duke University. DUKE UNIVERSITY! Does this mean we’ve made it?

And did you know that an academic study done in 2013 showed that those who read romance are more emotionally in-tune and sensitive and able to express emotions? Talk about a healthy emotional society! 🙂

And we’re making headlines too! Recently Entertainment Weekly did a 12-page spread on romance novels, readers, authors, and the genre as a whole. Additionally, we have authors like Sarah MacLean and Eloisa James with their very own romance columns. Not to mention USA Today has a Happy Ever After section that is all about romance books and industry.

For so long admitting to reading romance was something that made your friends snicker. Or something they looked down upon because it wasn’t literary fiction or a challenging mental pursuit. It wasn’t seen as clever or worthwhile. But it is. Romance novels are incredibly valuable for a number of reasons including giving us hope, providing an escape, teaching how us how to love, and yes, giving us some lessons in great sex. It looks like romance may be providing us all an education after all.




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