Wednesday, December 30, 2009


My friend Mark seems to have disabled the "link to a single post" feature on his wonderful blog, Culture Industry, so you may have to scroll down a bit to find his post from Tuesday, December 29, 2009, but it's worth a gander, maybe.

The post is on something that fascinates me: his reading habits.

Mark, you see, is a reader of poetry. A real reader: upwards of..well, let him do the numbers:
I was always astonished by the statement I read somewhere by some recent MFA grad who was gushingly thankful for having been required to read 50 books of poetry during the course of his two or three years in the program. Wow – fifty whole books! (Read that with heavy irony, okay?) Sorry, fella, but it's a really slow year when I don't read at least half again more than that, & lately I've been trying to keep up a pace of at least 100 volumes (counting chapbooks, of course, but also counting big things like The Prelude & "A" & JH Prynne's Poems) every calendar year. And that's not counting magazines, journals, & miscellaneous stuff online. poet & lover of poetry (not necessarily identical subject-positions, we all know) I simply want to know as much of the stuff as possible, to hoover down as much of that sweet word-work as I can. The Doritos effect.
He also evidently re-reads books: 2, 3, 4, 5, dozens of times.

Now, I'm not a list-keeper, the way Mark and my other friend Lazaraspaste seem to be, so I don't know how many books of poetry, or novels, or anything else I read in a year. I tried to keep a list like that last January, and gave up after about a half-dozen entries, bored with the enterprise. But I doubt I read anything close to 75 books of poetry in a year, and I fear I don't read close to that even if I add in the romance novels. Maybe I'll try to keep track this year, just to see, here on the blog.

Dispiriting, but I'm not going to give myself grief over it.

And I wonder what the critics who pathologize constant romance reading would make of Mark's steady consumption of poetry. What unspoken desires and psychic conflicts are superficially assuaged by each new chapbook, but truly (that is, unconsciously) exacerbated, demanding yet another dose?

Currently reading (although I'll start the list officially on the 1st) Sherry Thomas's romance novel Delicious, and re-reading The Ringworld Throne, by Larry Niven (SF). No poetry on the table at the moment, although that will change, soon enough.


This morning's music: Lasairfhiona, a wonderful singer from the Aran Islands, discovered on our last trip to Ireland. Enjoy!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

"Part of the Process"

I spent this morning--or at least the two good working hours thereof--plugging away without much success at my current work in progress: an essay on Jennifer Crusie, optimism, and popular romance fiction. When done, it will be my contribution to the Crusie collection I'm editing with Laura Vivanco, and my goal is to finish it, or at least a passable draft of it, sometime in early January.

At the moment, the piece is in two parts: an introduction, which talks about the century-old critical bias against literature that aims to encourage its readers, and a discussion of two novels by Crusie, Anyone but You and Welcome to Temptation. I've stolen the first part from an early draft of the introduction to our volume as a whole; as Laura realized early on, it was more the early draft of an essay than of an introduction, and it struck me a few months ago that this was the essay where it belonged. The second part was a conference paper, two years ago, which I'm going to update and expand.

Earlier this month, I used this approach--new introduction + old conference paper, revise as needed--to draft my contribution to the New Approaches to Popular Romance volume. That was an intensely painful process at first: two or three days of maddening frustration, then some kind of breakthrough, then a couple of weeks of solid writing, with every other project put on hold. Got it done just in time for my birthday, which went well. But now?

Well, I'm still in the "maddening frustration" portion of the process with this one, which means much heaving of sighs and snippiness when interrupted, but that will pass. What worries me is that I won't have the luxury of the "solid writing" part of my usual compositional rhythm, what with the new quarter starting on Monday, a couple of syllabi to write, and so on.

The trick I need to master, or master again (did I ever know it?): how to keep a writing project moving forward in small increments, steadily, rather than lurching about in great ungainly surges. And, related to that, the trick of steadily building the scholarly base for this new work, so that I have new ideas, new references, and so on in mind as it develops.


On the musical front, I've decided to work my way through a book of medieval music for mandolin that I got last year at Christmas, and left unopened, mostly, throughout the year. Starting (why not?) with the first song, which I'll practice all week before moving on to the second, and so on. I'll have to switch things up a bit once we have the song parodies chosen for my next Alte Rockers gig, but for the next month or so, this should keep me playing at least a little, more or less regularly.

The first song is this, Cantiga 101 from a gathering of songs for Santa Maria by King Alfonzo X:

The sheet music has a bunch of variations in it, and I'll play with the melody a bit myself once I've mastered the basics--try it on various instruments, etc. Good to have a focus, in any case.

Romance Fiction and American Culture: Call for Papers

Another Call for Papers with a deadline coming up.

Romance Fiction and American Culture: Love as the Practice of Freedom?

Edited by William Gleason and Eric Selinger

Call for Proposals—by January 4!

Last April, Princeton University hosted a groundbreaking two-day conference on popular romance fiction and American culture. Gathering scholars, authors, editors, and bloggers, this interdisciplinary gathering featured panels on romance and history (both political and literary), romance and religion, romance and sexuality, and romance and race. Each explored the ways that popular romance fiction has reflected, and also helped shape, American culture from the late 18th century to the present.

Conference organizers William Gleason (Princeton) and Eric Selinger (DePaul University) now invite proposals for a collection of essays that will build on the work of the conference: Romance Fiction and American Culture: Love as the Practice of Freedom? We welcome proposals from academic scholars from any field—American literature, popular culture, religion, women's and gender studies, African American Studies, or any other relevant discipline—as well as from authors, editors, and other members of the romance community who wish to reflect on their practice in light of the volume’s concerns.

We are eager to consider proposals or abstracts on the relationships between popular romance fiction and

  • the history of reading in America, from Pamela to the present
  • American cultures of sexuality, masculinity, and femininity
  • American religious cultures, in Christian and other traditions
  • Race, ethnicity, and exogamous desire
  • “High” culture: literary fiction, poetry, visual art, etc.
  • Other popular genres: mystery / detective fiction, Science Fiction and Fantasy, non-romance bestsellers, chick-lit
  • Other popular media: film, comics, music, gaming
  • The culture of sport (football, baseball, NASCAR, etc.)
  • American political / military culture, from the early Republic to the present
  • American psychological / therapeutic / self-help culture

We also hope for papers on the romance industry in America and the diverse community of romance readers, authors, and reviewers, both as they are and as they are represented in the media:

  • Romance sub-genres—Western, Gothic, Regency, Medieval, Paranormal (vampire, were, empath, etc.), Futuristic/time travel, Multi-cultural, Erotic, Gay/lesbian, etc.—and their shifting appeal to readers
  • American romance and other traditions: comparative studies, texts in translation, transnational encounters
  • Romance publishing: major presses, series and lines, the rise in e-publishing
  • Representations of American romance writers, readers, bloggers, book groups, conventions, etc.

Detailed abstract or draft essay and a short CV are due by January 4, 2010. Final essays will be due in June, 2010. We are happy to answer any inquiries.

Prof. William Gleason, bgleason at Princeton dot edu

Prof. Eric Selinger, eselinge at depaul dot edu

FW: Last Call for Papers for IASPR conference in Belgium (5-7 August, 2010)

To test the handy-dandy “Post by Email” feature here at SSW, I’m forwarding a Call for Papers. 


Last Call for the IASPR conference in Belgium!  Romantic love and its representations in popular media, throughout the world!  Please forward to interested colleagues, listservs, and graduate students—still enough time for them to get proposals together, even if they’re stuck at MLA.

Call For Papers (DUE: JANUARY 1, 2010)

The Second Annual International Conference on Popular Romance:
Popular Romance Studies: Theory, Text and Practice

Brussels, Belgium
5-7 August, 2010

The International Association for the Study of Popular Romance (IASPR) is seeking proposals for innovative panels, papers, roundtables, discussion groups, and multi-media presentations that contribute to a sustained conversation about romantic love and its representations in popular media throughout the world, from antiquity to the present.  We welcome analyses of individual texts—books, films, websites, songs, performances—as well as broader inquiries into the creative industries that produce and market popular romance and into the emerging critical practice of popular romance studies.

This conference has three main goals:

  • To bring to bear contemporary critical theory on the texts and contexts of popular romance, in all forms and media, from all national and cultural traditions
  • To foster comparative and intercultural analyses of popular romance, by documenting and/or theorizing what happens to tropes and texts as they move across national, linguistic, and cultural boundaries
  • To explore the relationships between popular romance tropes and texts as they circulate between elite and popular culture, between different media (e.g., from novel to film, or from song to music video), between cultural representations and the lived experience of readers, viewers, listeners, and lovers

After the conference, proceedings will be subjected to peer-review and published.

IASPR is pleased and proud to announce that the Keynote Speakers for the conference will be Celestino Deleyto, University of Zaragoza, Spain, Lynne Pearce, Lancaster University, UK, and Pamela Regis, McDaniel College, USA.

Please submit proposals by January 1, 2010 and direct questions to:

We are currently pursuing funds to help defray the cost of travel to Belgium for the conference.  If these funds become available, we will notify those accepted how to apply for support from IASPR.

Monday, December 28, 2009

To Blog or Not To Blog...

My latest post, over at Romancing the Blog, opens the question, at least for me.

The hiatus here will continue at least through New Years--but as you see, I have a new look, a new photo, and some new links in the list. More to come, maybe, in a few days.

Something pretty, for your trouble. Thanks for stopping by!