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The Popular Romance Author

Keynote Speakers:  Kay Mussell and Jennifer Crusie

With:  Mary Bly/Eloisa James

**Registration required—please use the link in the left hand menu**

One of the most important developments in the popular romance genre in the last thirty years is the emergence of the individual author as a figure of note in the genre and its community. Over the past three decades both the production and consumption of popular romance novels have increasingly been organized around individual authors. The author-oriented single title romance novel, for example, has edged out the category romance as the predominant format in the genre, and author names feature more dominantly on romance novel covers. Faces and names of star authors like Nora Roberts, Jude Deveraux, JR Ward and many others are recognized instantly across the genre’s community while romance readers often indicate they select and organize their romance reading on the basis of authorship. Yet despite her prominence in the romance genre’s matrix, the romance author remains a largely marginalized figure in both “mainstream” culture and romance scholarship. Romance authors do not qualify as prominent authorial figures in our culture, even though many of their novels dominate bestseller lists. Studies of individual romance authors are scarce as romance scholars have yet to engage fully with the question of authorship in relation to the popular romance genre. This symposium invites scholars to think about the figure of the romance author (in general or in particular instances) and address some of the questions that surround her remarkable position in our culture. Possible topics will include:


·       Romance authorship and gender

·       Romance authorship and the constraints of genre writing

·       The author in the romance genre’s publishing history

·       Particular authors / careers / oeuvres

·       Iconography of the romance author in pop culture

·       Romance authorship and translation

·       The romance author as romance reader/critic

·       Romance authors and their readers

·       Romance authorship and digital media


The first day of the symposium will feature the keynote addresses followed by a roundtable discussion with the keynoters and a panel of romance authors and scholars. The second day will feature panel presentations of ten to fifteen papers of original scholarship on the popular romance author.

The keynotes and roundtable discussion on Thursday evening October 24 are free and open to the public. The scholarly panels on Friday October 25 require a small fee. Please use the registration page to sign up for Thursday, Friday, or both.


Co-organized by the Department of English and the Program in Gender and Sexuality Studies

conference twitter hashtag: #purom13

Conference Organizers
An Goris, BAEF Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Department of English, Princeton University
William Gleason, Department of English, Princeton University

For questions, please contact

This conference has been generously co-sponsored by:
the Department of English, the Program in Gender and Sexuality Studies, the Program in American Studies, the International Association for the Study of Popular Romance, and the Nora Roberts Center for American Romance.