On April 13th, I will be giving a presentation on "Stigmatizing the Romance Genre: Reading Romance in the Digital Age," at Bowling Green State University.
The romance genre emerged as a counterpublic; a way for women to write books about women for women. Originally, the romance genre was not viewed as gender specific; but after World War II, and the return of men from the battlefields, women went back to their traditional roles, i.e. at home with their families. Romance novels have become a way to place female protagonists at the center of a story. Heroines across the genre are justified in their wants and desires, placing emphasis on the female experience and viewpoint. Today, romance readers face stigmatization due to their literary interests. Rather than celebrate a genre by women for women, readers and writers face marginalization. Avid readers of the romance genre find their voices in the online sphere; for instance, posting reviews or blog articles anonymously. On one hand, the online sphere should be commended for its ability to foster freedom of expression. Yet, on the other hand, it should be noted that the stigma surrounding the romance genre creates the need for ongoing anonymity. While readers are able to vocalize their thoughts, they may only feel comfortable doing so in an anonymous setting, unintentionally fostering the ongoing stigma of romance. The growth, accessibility, and affordability of e-books has also created a method for combating the genre’s stigma. Readers can make their literary purchases in the privacy of their own homes and privately read books on their electronic devices without preying eyes on recognizable romance book covers. The digital landscape is redefining romance and how readers discus the genre.
You can follow the conference here: https://scholarworks.bgsu.edu/researchingromance/2018/04-13/13/