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Keynote Speakers


Kay Mussell

Kay Mussell is Professor Emerita in the Department of Literature at American University. Professor Mussell has held multiple positions at AU, including Professor of Literature and American Studies; Director of the American Studies, College Writing, and Honors Programs; and Associate Dean positions in the College of Arts and Sciences and the Office of the Dean of Academic Affairs. She was Dean of the College from 1999-2009. She is the author of Women's Gothic and Romantic Fiction: A Reference Guide and Fantasy and Reconciliation: Contemporary Formulas of Women's Romance Fiction. She has also published articles and book reviews on women's popular culture, American foodways, and higher education. A multiple American University award winner, Mussell has received the CAS: Faculty-Administrator Award (1996) and Contributions to Academic Development (1990). In 2007, she was honored by the University of Iowa with a Distinguished Alumni Achievement Award.

Jennifer Crusie

Jennifer Crusie has written 15 novels and one book of literary criticism, edited two essay collections, and contributed over thirty essays to magazines and anthologies. Her work has been published in 20 countries. Her work has earned a place on many bestseller lists including The New York Times, USA Today, Publishers Weekly, Wall Street Journal, Bookscan, Barnes & Noble and Waldens. Her education includes a BS in Art Education from Bowling Green State University, an MA in Professional Writing and Women's Lit from Wright State University, an MFA in Fiction from The Ohio State University. She is currently ABD on her PhD in Feminist Criticism from The Ohio State University.


Following their keynote addresses, Kay Mussell and Jennifer Crusie will be joined by a panel of authors and academics for a roundtable discussion.


Roundtable Participants

Pamela Regis (moderator)

Pamela Regis is Professor of English at McDaniel College. She has been studying the romance since the 1980s, and is the author of A Natural History of the Romance Novel. She is at work on a history of the American romance from 1742 to the present. Currently president of the International Association for the Study of Popular Romance, Regis is also the director of The Nora Roberts Center for American Romance at McDaniel College.

April Alliston

April Alliston is Professor of Comparative Literature at Princeton University, working mainly at the intersections of the fields of eighteenth-century studies, gender studies, and the history and theory of the novel. Published books and current projects include Virtue's Faults: Correspondences in Eighteenth-Century British and French Women's Fiction, The Longman Anthology of World Literature (Vol. D, the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries), a critical edition of Sophia Lee's 1785 novel, The Recess; Or, A Tale of Other Times, and a biography of James Fenimore Cooper, co-authored with Pamela J. Schirmeister of Yale University. Another ongoing study explores the relationship between European gender conventions and the origins of the modern novel, arguing that the early novel, far from affirming Enlightenment individualism connects new philosophical skepticism about interiority and sense experience with archaic social anxieties around female fidelity.

Mary Bly/Eloisa James

New York Times bestselling author Eloisa James writes historical romances for Harper Collins Publishers. Her novels have been published to great acclaim. A reviewer from USA Today wrote of Eloisa's very first book that she "found herself devouring the book like a dieter with a Hershey bar"; later People Magazine raved that "romance writing does not get much better than this." Her novels have repeatedly received starred reviews from Publishers' Weekly and Library Journal, and regularly appear on the best-seller lists.

After graduating from Harvard University, Eloisa got an M.Phil. from Oxford University, a Ph.D. from Yale and eventually became a Shakespeare professor, publishing an academic book with Oxford University Press. Currently she is a full professor in the English Department at Fordham University in New York City. Her "double life" is a source of fascination to the media and her readers. In her professorial guise, she's written a New York Times op-ed defending romance, as well as articles published everywhere from women's magazines such as More to writers' journals such as the Romance Writers' Report.

An Goris

An Goris is currently a BAEF Postdoctoral Research Fellow at Princeton University.  Her research focuses on dynamics of genre and authorship in contemporary popular culture, particularly the popular romance novel. She is currently writing a monograph on American romance author Nora Roberts. Based on her PhD dissertation (2011), the book explores the shifting relationship between genre and authorship in Roberts's oeuvre and traces the novelist's remarkable evolution from a semi-anonymous romance writer to one of the bestselling authors in the world.