Romance Resources for Academics

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This page contains details of academic romance resources, general online resources which may be of interest to academics studying romance, and academic libraries which have romance collections.

Academic Associations, Publications etc.

International Association for the Study of Popular Romance (IASPR): "The International Association for the Study of Popular Romance is dedicated to fostering and promoting the scholarly exploration of all popular representations of romantic love. IASPR is committed to building a strong community of scholars of popular romance through open, digital access to all scholarly work published by the Association, by organizing or sponsoring an annual international conference on popular romance studies, and by encouraging the teaching of popular romance at all levels of higher education."

"The Journal of Popular Romance Studies (JPRS) is a peer-reviewed on-line journal presenting scholarship on representations of romantic love in popular media, now and in the past, from anywhere in the world. We welcome theoretical and empirical contributions from all relevant disciplines, including Art, Communications, Comparative Literature, Cultural Studies, Education, English, Film Studies, History, LGBTQ Studies, Marketing, Philosophy, Psychology, Religious Studies, Sociology, Women’s and Gender Studies, as well as interdisciplinary approaches."

The Popular Romance Project is no longer online but it was archived at the Internet Archive. It includes articles written by academics about a variety of topics related to popular romance. The Project was linked to a documentary, Love Between the Covers, by Laurie Kahn and a conference at the Library of Congress. Details of video excerpts of both of those can be found here.

Resources for Teaching Popular Romance Fiction

RomanceScholar - A listserv dedicated to academic discussion about romance fiction.

Studies in Gothic Fiction

Teach Me Tonight - a blog containing 'Musings on Romance Fiction from an Academic Perspective'.

Academic Libraries with Romance Collections

National Library of Australia. 
The National Library of Australia (NLA) has extensive collections of romance novels published and distributed in Australia, principally received under the legal deposit provisions (s201) of the Copyright Act, 1968." [1]. Individual catalogue records for pre-1990 romance novels published by Mills & Boon (over 12,000 titles), Harlequin (over 6000 titles) and Silhouette (over 500 titles) can be located via the NLA catalogue. From January 1990 NLA ceased to catalogue romance novels individually, except for Australian romance authors; however, collective records for post-1990 titles can be located at the following locations: Mills & Boon, Silhouette, and Harlequin. In addition to English language holdings, the NLA holds collections of foreign language romance novels by Australian authors Emma Darcy[2] (the Australian husband-wife writing team of Wendy Brennan and Frank Brennan), Miranda Lee[3] and Valerie Parv[4]. The NLA also holds a small, but notable collection of romance comics which can be searched via subject headings ‘Romance comic books, strips, etc. - Australia – Periodicals’ and ‘Romance comic books, strips, etc. - United States’. Original materials held include the personal papers and oral history recording of Australian romance writer Lee Pattinson, and personal papers of G. C. (Gordon Clive) Bleeck.
Bowling Green State University. 
"The Browne Popular Culture Library holds a wide range of romance materials from novels to valentines. The collection includes more than 10,000 volumes of category romance series from publishers such as Harlequin, Silhouette, Loveswept, Candlelight, Ecstasy, and others. The holdings also include a sizable collection of mass market novels, including Georgian, regency, gothic, contemporary, and historicals. [...] In addition, the Library has manuscript collections containing correspondence, fan mail, literary manuscripts, and galley sheets from many prominent romance writers, includings Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Cathie Linz, and April Kihlstrom." Broken link The Browne Library also holds "RWA’s organizational archives documenting its founding 15 years ago and following its growth into the world’s largest non-profit genre organization, specializing in romance fiction." Broken link. A description of the RWA archive and suggestions for possible research projects to which it could be helpful can be found here. "In December 2017, we received the Frank Kalan Romance Cover Art Collection, more than 100 original oil paintings that Mr. Kalan produced for Harlequin covers. In addition to the artwork, this collection includes paperwork related to each, reference photographs, and cover mockups. For many of these artworks we have also collected the published novel to give researchers a unique opportunity to explore the production process." [5]
Brown University. 
Brown University's "collections of genre fiction were augmented by a group of romance novels, including translations into many European languages, the work and gift of Barbara Keiler, class of 1976, and Patricia Coughlin" [6]. The collection of "Romance Novels by Brown & Rhode Island Authors" also includes "the working papers of their authors." [7]
University of Calgary. 
The library has a special collection of early Harlequin novels (not all of which are romances) dating from 1949-1962.[8] The library also holds "research material relating to [Paul Grescoe's] book The Merchants of Venus: Inside Harlequin and the Empire of Romance including Harlequin promotional material, photographs, interviews with various Harlequin executives and writers, articles on romance by other authors, notes and material relating to 1995 Romantic Times convention and issues of Pandora's Box, the newsletter of the Published Authors Network of Romance Writers of America (Acc 705/01.11)."[9]
Library and Archives Canada. 
"The general power given to the institution to 'acquire publications and records or obtain the care, custody or control of them' is supported by more specific powers relating to sampling the Internet, the legal (that is, required by law) deposit of publications." [10] Their holdings therefore contain many Harlequin romances published in Canada. LAC's collections can be searched online via AMICUS and its "services to the public are provided in its main building located in downtown Ottawa."[11]
Duke University. 
The library holds "Letters from [Georgette] Heyer to publishers and agents regarding royalties, contracts, and dramatizations of her works of historical fiction. Includes information concerning her lawsuit againt Barbara Cartland." [12] The letters date from 1950-1952.
George Mason University. 
Mason is building a collection of Popular Romance Novels for circulation, not as a special collection. We [...] want the collection to be used by Mason students & faculty as well as researchers at other universities. When items are in a "special collection" those items do not circulate and researchers have to visit the library/collection to use the materials. By putting romance novels in the circulating collection they are accessible via InterLibrary Loan so researchers can use the materials without traveling. [More details from Sarah Sheehan via the Popular Romance Project and the Journal of Popular Romance Studies.]
Harvard University (Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study). 
"The Schlesinger Library at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study has a small but growing collection of romance novels. We are currently collecting them as part of an effort to document popular culture. Many of these are the pre-North American re-pubs of Mills & Boon romances. We recently acquired a collection of nurse romances. Of more recent vintage are the NASCAR romances and the Harlequin manga translations of Japanese manga based on Harlequin novels translated into Japanese. These are all searchable in HOLLIS, our on-line catalog, which allows for faceted searching, and HOLLIS Classic, which allows for indexed searching as well as keyword. We are actively looking to acquire more material, current and older, especially the lines for girls/teens."
University of Iowa. 
The university library holds "The papers of LeAnn Lemberger [which] date from 1982 to the present with additions being made each year. They are organized by publication date, with an alphabetical index. The vast majority of the collection consists of manuscript drafts of her various romance novels." Lemberger "writes using the name Leigh Michaels, a combination of her own name and that of her husband Michael Lemberger. She now publishes an average of four new romances each year, making Leigh Michaels Harlequin's most-published American author." [13] The library also houses material donated by romance author Dorothy Garlock and the collection "contains unpublished material by Garlock, as well as foreign editions of her works." [14]
University of Liverpool. 
The library has a David and Betty Beaty Archive, which holds, among other things, "correspondence between David and Betty Beaty and several publishers, friends, and others, mainly concerning their respective publications, dated between 1939 and 1998" and "7 boxes containing full or partial autograph manuscript and typescript drafts of Betty Beaty's books, as follows: 'The colours of the night', 'The trysting tower', 'Fatal union', 'Love and the Kentish maid', 'Wheel fortune', 'The path of the moonfish', 'The shadow of the peak', 'The Atlantic sky', and 'Flight into love'". [15]
Loyola University. 
The Monroe library holds a "collection from Lorena Dureau, opera singer, romance novelist, psychic, & doll designer"[16].[More details about Lorena Dureau can be found here.]
McDaniel College. 
"The Nora Roberts American Romance Collection, established in 2011 and housed in Hoover Library at McDaniel College [...] contains the complete works of Nora Roberts / J. D. Robb, RITA Award winning titles of American Romance, and selected works of other American Romance authors recommended by expert and scholar Dr. Pamela Regis". [17]
University of Melbourne. 
"The Romance Fiction Collection is a comprehensive collection of paper-back fiction by Australian and New Zealand - as well as British and American - romance novelists published from the 1960s up until the present by publishers such as Mills and Boon, Silhouette and the Women’s Weekly Library." [18]
Michigan State University. 
The Romance Fiction collection has at "its core [...] a group of several thousand Harlequin Romances, [but] other popular romance novelists such as Barbara Cartland are also included." [19]
New York University. 
The Harlequin Romance Collection of Treva M. Taylor 1967-1996 (Bulk 1974-1996) is held in Fales Library and Special Collections, Elmer Holmes Bobst Library and "The Harlequin Romance Collection of Treva M. Taylor contains 1671 paperbacks spanning three decades of the twentieth century (1970s-1990s). The two publishers represented in the collection are Harlequin and Silhouette." [20]
University of Otago. 
"The University of Otago Library’s rare book collection in Special Collections" includes "numerous samples of Australian Pulp Fiction Literature."[21] According to Dr Donald Kerr, Special Collections Librarian at the University of Otago, it is "a pulp fiction collection of some 900 titles, mainly published in Australia by Sydney based publishers as a result of a publishing embargo on the US based ‘pulps’ before and during the Second World War. The collection complements our more traditional rare books and features detective, westerns, science fiction and romance novels. Representative authors in this field of popular culture include ‘Larry Kent’, Marc Brody, and Carter Brown. The collection was purchased from a collector in Australia in 2005. All are catalogued, and the covers have been digitised for easy access by students, especially those in art history, design and English. It gets added to." Details of the titles in the pulp fiction collection can be found in the main catalogue and as a group they will come up in response to a subject search on the words "pulp literature". Dr Kerr adds that, "In addition, there is an uncatalogued Mills and Boon Collection in the University’s storage facilities; some hundreds of titles."
University of Queensland, Fryer Library. 
The Juliet Flesch Collection of Australian Romance Fiction at the University of Queensland’s Fryer Library consists of approximately 1,500 Australian popular romance novels acquired by Dr. Juliet Flesch (currently a Fellow at the School of Historical Studies, University of Melbourne) in the course of her research for her PhD and her subsequent publication From Australia With Love: a History of Modern Australian Popular Romance Novels (Fremantle, W.A.: Curtin University Books, 2004). The material is principally 20th century, with an end date of 2005. There are numerous variant editions, including some works not represented in the National Library of Australia, and a small collection of books by English and North American authors with Australian settings or heroes/heroines. All of the titles have been individually catalogued in the library’s online catalogue and the entire collection can be viewed by searching Australian Romance Fiction Collection as a title. The collection has been entered in AustLit: The Australian Literature Resource by AustLit staff based at UQ, further enhancing AustLit’s genre fiction coverage.
University of Reading. 
1) "The Harlequin Mills & Boon Archive consists of the editorial correspondence of both John Boon and Alan Boon, script registers, publicity material and some administrative records. It covers the period 1910-2008 (with the bulk of the records covering 1924-1975)" and "The Special Collections Service also acquired a large proportion of the back catalogue of Mills & Boon books" [22]

2) the Cole Library, a "collection [which] was originally the private library of Professor F J Cole (1872-1959), F.R.S., Professor of Zoology in the University of Reading from 1907 to 1939. [...] The collection [...] includes 15 books by Sophie Cole (1862-1947), the sister of Professor Cole. As an adolescent, Miss Cole suffered from a long illness, and to pass the time she wrote a romance novel, Arrows From the Dark in 1909, the first book to be published by Mills and Boon, who later became major publishers of romance novels. The book was well-received, and by 1914, 1,394 women had bought a copy. During her lifetime she wrote 65 books, and earned her living from them for many years.[...] She lived in Brighton, but in her later years came to live with Professor Cole and his wife at Eldon Road in Reading. A number of the books are presentation copies from Miss Cole."[23]

3) The University Library catalogue reveals that the Library also holds some "Letters between George Allen & Unwin Ltd and Mills & Boon Ltd, publishers of Great Britain" from 1961 and another folder of "Letters to and from Mills & Boon Ltd", presumably also between M&B and Allen & Unwin Ltd, dating from 1967. [24]

4) 46 boxes of the papers of Elinor Glyn are also held here. The "collection chiefly covers the period 1920-1939, with some earlier material. It contains typescript and manuscript copies of novels (whole and in part), short stories, film scenarios and articles. There are accounts, legal documents, memoranda, correspondence and other papers from Elinor Glyn's various enterprises including Elinor Glyn Ltd, Talkicolor Ltd, Talking & Sound Films Ltd, Morgana Syndicate Ltd and the Elinor Glyn Trustees. There are also papers relating to individual films, including The Price of Things, Knowing Men, Six Days, Love's Blindness and His Hour. [25]

University of Rochester. 
The University of Rochester has an extensive collection of Silhouette romances and Silhouette desires (which are listed in the library catalogue as "love stories--periodicals").
St. Cloud State University. 
Included in the Minnesota Authors Manuscripts Collection are the papers of LaVyrle Spencer, including "manuscripts for Hummingbird; The Hellion; Twice Loved; The Fulfillment; The Endearment; Years; November of the Heart and others." [26]
Syracuse University. 
Syracuse University Library houses the Street and Smith Publishers' Archive and Dime Novel Cover Art. According to Dr. Kirsten MacLeod, Adjunct Assistant Professor at the Department of English and Film Studies, University of Alberta, "S and S published romance pulps [...] Of course they also issued dime novels. That "dime novels" also included romance fiction is a fact often overlooked. Bertha M Clay, E.D.E.N Southworth, etc."
University of Tulsa. 
The McFarlin Library holds a collection of "251 letters from [Georgette] Heyer to her literary agent L. P. Moore and his assistant Norah Perriam, at Christy & Moore, Ltd, concerning the publication of her books. Most of the letters are lengthy with some running to six or eight closely written pages."[27]
UK and Irish Legal Deposit Libraries. 
These libraries are entitled to "one copy of every publication distributed in the United Kingdom or Republic of Ireland" (British Library website). This does not mean that each of them holds a copy of every one of these books, but it does mean that they have extensive holdings of romances published in the UK, such as Mills & Boon's. The Legal Deposit Libraries are: Bodleian Library, Oxford; British Library, London; University Library, Cambridge; National Library of Scotland, Edinburgh; Library of Trinity College, Dublin; National Library of Wales, Aberystwyth [which holds the papers of Berta Ruck.] Their catalogues may be searched either directly via their websites or via COPAC: "The Copac® library catalogue gives free access to the merged online catalogues of many major University, Specialist, and National Libraries in the UK and Ireland."
US Library of Congress, Washington D.C. 
Although the library does not "have a copy of every book published in the United States" [28] it does contain many romances published in the US. It has an online catalog.
University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee. 
The UWM's "collection of [over 425] nurse romance novels was donated to Special Collections in 2005 by artist, photographer, and former UWM Art Professor Leslie Bellavance." [29] There is an online archive of Nurse Romance Covers.


Chick Lit Academic Bibliography

"Rom-Coms" Academic Bibliography

General Online Resources

A Romance Review has many short articles on various aspects of the genre.

All About Romance has a short series of items on The Romance Family Tree. There are entries on the Bodice-Ripper, the Gothic, the Historical Novel, Inspirationals, Paranormals, Austen and Heyer.

American Women's Dime Novel Project which 'grew out of my [Felicia L. Carr's] research for my dissertation entitled "All For Love: Gender and Class and the Woman's Dime Novel in Nineteenth-Century America" '.

Colonial Australian Romance Fiction from the Colonial Australian Popular Fiction digital archive at the University of Melbourne. Ken Gelder's article on "Negotiating the Colonial Australian Popular Fiction Archive" is available here, from the Journal of the Association for the Study of Australian Literature 11.1 (2011) and here.

Fan Fiction and Fan Communities Bibliography from Karen Hellekson and Kristina Busse. Fan Fiction and Fan Communities in the Age of the Internet: New Essays (2006).

Folklore and Mythology Electronic Texts Compiled by D.L. Ashliman at the University of Pittsburgh, this resource includes numerous versions of many different folk and fairy tales, including Beauty and the Beast, Bluebeard, Cinderella, St George and the Dragon, Sleeping Beauty and Snow White.

Genre Evolution Project This is not about romance at the moment, but its methodology may be of interest:

We study literature as a living thing, able to adapt to society’s desires and able to influence those desires. Currently, we are tracking the evolution of pulp science fiction short stories published between 1926 and 1999. Just as a biologist might ask the question, “How does a preference for mating with red-eyed males effect eye color distribution in seven generations of fruit flies?” the GEP might ask, “How does the increasing representation of women as authors of science fiction affect the treatment of medicine in the 1960s and beyond?”

More generally, the Genre Evolution Project seeks to determine what benefits may derive from treating culture and cultural production and consumption as a complex adaptive system. We view culture and its elements as one would the biosphere, that is, as a system in which organisms succeed or fail according to their fitness to their environment and, by their existence and success, modify their environment.

Library Career Romances - excerpts from a number of romances from the 1940s and 1950s featuring heroines who are librarians. [This website is no longer online, but a cached version can be found at the Internet Archive. Wendy the Superlibrarian has compiled a list of more recent romances featuring librarians and some romances are listed at the Romance Wiki itself.]

Librarians, writing in Reference & User Services Quarterly, the official journal of the Reference and User Services Association of the American Library Association, suggest five romances in each of five romance subgenres (contemporary, historical, Regency, suspense, and paranormal) to form the core of a library collection, and give a short description of each of these subgenres. [30]

Marriage, and the history of marriage, are topics which are, for obvious reasons, related to the study of romances. Among the many works which may be of interest in this area is

Coontz, Stephanie. 2005. 
Marriage, A History: From Obedience to Intimacy, or How Love Conquered Marriage (New York: Penguin). Chapter 1

Nurse Romance Cover of the Week. This collection "presents images and snippets of text from the more than 425 novels held in the UWM [University of Wisconsin Milwaukee] Libraries’ Special Collections that have nurses as central characters. These images, from works written for both young and adult audiences from the 1950s to the 1970s, often reflect stereotypes about nurses, usually negative, that are held in the popular imagination. These works raise issues concerning the image of nurses and the nursing profession in popular culture, and the books that serve to reinforce not only popular misconceptions of nurses, but of women generally, and professional women in particular. They also raise more general questions of gender construction in Western society, reader expectations, and societal/historical contexts that allow for such presentations to persist to this day."

Romancing the Bard by Laurie E. Osborne. Osborne has written a number of academic articles on Shakespeare and popular romance. There is some overlap between the information contained in them and the information which appears on this website, but obviously they are not identical, nor is the format. The site explores the uses of Shakespeare and Shakespearean references in popular romance novels: "Shakespeare and Shakespearean references appear frequently in that most vilified form of popular culture, the romance novel."

Sara Donati's (Rosina Lippi) analysis of a number of sex scenes, some from romance, others from outside the genre. She says that: 'Each scene was chosen because it illustrates something instructive, positive or negative. I have tried to construct a list which contains a range in matters of expliciteness, tone and approach. [...] The idea is [to] look at the choices the author made, the underlying mechanics and process, what works, what doesn't. By the time I'm done I hope to be able to articulate clearly some basic guidelines for effective sex scenes of different types. The introduction now archived here and the scene analyses - 1. Jennifer Crusienow archived here, 3. - Judith Ivory now archived here, 8. - more Jennifer Crusie were all posted in August 2004.

Sequential Crush "a blog devoted to preserving the memory of romance comic books and the creative teams that published them throughout the 1960s and 1970s."

Sheikhs and Desert Love has a database of sheik romances and some very snarky analysis of the sub-genre in the features section.

Slayage: The Online International Journal of Buffy Studies Although Buffy isn't a romance and isn't a novel, it is part of popular culture and, given the increase in popularity in vampire/paranormal romances, as well as the rise of the 'kick-ass heroine', this journal may be of interest. In the first issue, for example, there is an article comparing Laurell K. Hamilton’s Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter, and Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

The Cinderella Bibliography Compiled by Russell Peck. This bibliography lists fiction, music, drama, movies, television programmes and criticism related to the Cinderella and Beauty and the Beast stories. This includes a number of modern romance retellings of these fairytales. Other lists on fairytales, but this time strictly limited to romances, are AAR's Fairy Tale Romances page and SurLaLune's Fairy Tale Romances page.

The Golden Age Romance Comics Archive 'A resource for scholars and fans interested in golden era romance comics, containing full scans of issues'.

Australian DC Comics Reprint Gallery - Romance comics: publishing information and digitised cover art.

The Romance Genre on the Web: Researching online romance genre communities and their perspectives

Unsuitable. A blog written by 'the students and instructors of “The Romance Novel” course (History 248S) at Duke University, Spring semester 2015'.

Victorian Web's index of material concerning Marie Corelli, 1855-1924.

Yaoi Research: Yaoi, Boys' Love, Slash, M/M, and Gay Romance and Erotica