"So for my overarching statement I will say that in a Gothic, every single aspect of the text—language, plot, setting, characterization—is in service to the mood. And that mood is creepy."
For Such a Time, the first work by author Kate Breslin was an obscure romance novel..until it was nominated for two RITA awards by the Romance Writers of America. The ensuing publicity storm has exposed serious rifts in the industry group, and has started a major discussion about problematic themes in romance fiction. This is because the story, a retelling of the Story of Esther, set durng the Holocaust, is part of a subgere of romances set in concentration camps. In brief, a young woman is saved by a concentration camp commandant, and uses her relationship with him to try to save some people, while drawing faith from the New Testament. The controversy centers of over the sympathetic portrayal of the Nazi commandant, and the conversion of the heroine to Christianity. [more inside]
And so, while romance is often treated as a static genre, I prefer to think of it as a sprawling, decades-long intergenerational discussion (sometimes polite, sometimes a bare-knuckle brawl) among women about what constitutes love, how one finds a partner that's worth putting up with the occasional tantrums and dirty socks. Scenes that disturb the modern reader nevertheless paved the way for the more sex-positive genre we enjoy today.Lots of articles are discovering feminism in romance novels, a genre historically neglected as being for women and having such restrictive plot rules that it could never be more than paint-by-numbers.
"In Creatures Such as We, living on the moon is lonely, and stressful, and exhausting. Video games have always offered you an escape to a better life. The easy, happy life you wish you had. Which makes it so frustrating when the game you’ve been playing ends badly. But you have a chance to figure it out, because the next tourist group is the game’s designers. You can debate with them about art, inspire them with the beauty of outer space, get closer to any one specific designer in particular, and finally find out how to get the ending you always wanted.[more inside]
Did Amazon Sink the Queen of Online Erotica? - Phoebe Reilly, Vulture
"Engler is an underappreciated pioneer, a self-proclaimed feminist in furry-cat slippers. To put her crowning achievement demurely, she challenged the book-publishing industry's denial of women's appetite for sexually explicit books. She wrote tawdry, lowbrow novels, and published hundreds of others, that freed romance from its lame euphemisms well before Fifty Shades of Grey, and she did so in a digital format long before the Kindle and the iPad allowed e-books to flourish.
"To put it less demurely: There were readers out there, lots of them, who didn't want to read about thick manroots. They wanted hard cocks. So that's what Ellora's Cave gave them. Easily and often."
I've been slightly under the weather for the last week, which means, of course, soup, self-pity and comfort reads. Rather than my traditional winter-sniffles re-re-re-read of the Belgariad, I thought I'd go wandering around the historical romance category. That is: duchess porn.At Pornokitsch, Jared Shurin expresses appreciation for "5 things in historical romance I wantonly desire to see in epic fantasy," and commenters suggest where to find them. At the Journal of Popular Romance Studies, similarly meta yet more searching questions arise. [more inside]
How Bioware helped one lucky couple unlock the paramour achievement in Mass Effect.
A Buzzfeed writer exercises her semiotics and gathers a bunch of stock photos to recreate Tinder, the quick glance social dating app, to find out why we swipe. [more inside]
The Love App. Digital life and couples culture in South Korea.
The Real Castaway (2001; 48:13) is a tense and awkward but sometimes beautiful documentary about a teenage boy moving to the Ulithi Atoll and seeking companionship to fulfill a romantic fantasy. [Via.]
How to Pick a Life Partner. From afar, a great marriage is a sweeping love story, like a marriage in a book or a movie. And that’s a nice, poetic way to look at a marriage as a whole. But human happiness doesn’t function in sweeping strokes, because we don’t live in broad summations—we’re stuck in the tiny unglamorous folds of the fabric of life, and that’s where our happiness is determined. So if we want to find a happy marriage, we need to think small—we need to look at marriage up close and see that it’s built not out of anything poetic, but out of 20,000 mundane Wednesdays. This is the second of two posts. The first one tells us why we suck at picking life partners. [more inside]
For it is the future generation in its entire individual determination which forces itself into existence through the medium of all this strife and trouble...That growing affection of two lovers for each other is in reality the will to live of the new being, of which they shall become the parents...The lovers have a longing to be really united and made one being, and to live as such for the rest of their lives; and this longing is fulfilled in the children born to them, in whom the qualities inherited from both, but combined and united in one being, are perpetuated...Therefore Nature attains her ends by implanting in the individual a certain illusion by which something which is in reality advantageous to the species alone seems to be advantageous to himself... Arthur Schopenhauer on the Metaphysics of Love.
An illustrated guide. "Enjoy life with your bride or groom. Be aware, however, that you're never guaranteed a storybook ending. Someone who is likely to walk from a wedding may be afraid of commitment, and insecure in relationships. This could pose problems for your relationship."
Anne Helen Petersen of " Scandals Of Classic Hollywood" fame talks about Zac Efron, the impossible demands of movie masculinity, and the history of the Teen Idol Industry on BuzzReads
May 7 is International Tell Your Crush Day. Maybe you found this site after someone told you they had a crush on you. Maybe you thought of the same holiday and we beat you to registering this username. Perhaps you’ve been a fan all along and have always wanted more propaganda to peruse while at work.
Comedian Aziz Ansari has posted a subreddit asking for relationship and dating experiences. Ansari and NYU professor Eric Klinenberg are using the subreddit as part of their research for a new book on modern romance in the US and elsewhere. [more inside]
When German soldiers arrived in Paris in the summer of 1940, there were so few of them that they had to win hearts and minds. The untold story of one young couple.
Sharon Lee and Steve Miller's Agent of Change and Fledgling are now available as free downloads. Starting points in the Liaden Universe, a space opera series notable for its romance elements and convoluted publication history, their particular sequences (among others) in the same setting take noticeably different approaches to common themes such as complicated manners, familial obligations, and meeting a soulmate. Not to mention humanoid turtles. And occasional cats. [more inside]
The romance comic blog Sequential Crush takes a look at an astrology-themed love story from 1970: "Horoscope, Don't Fool With My Heart!"
There is no such thing as Everlasting Love. Apparently all we have are "micro-moments of positivity resonance." Deflating the Love Myth, just in time for Valentines Day? [more inside]
When Bill Met Shelly Bill Ott will always remember the moment he met Shelley Belgard. It was in spring 1988. He was 12 and sometimes shy. Into music, sports and, suddenly, girls.
Ilana Gershon is a professor currently researching how people use the Internet to break up with their romantic partners, but before that she wrote an anthropological study about "strategic ignorance" in Samoan immigrant communities, all of which is just a complicated way of showing that she's the most unusually qualified person on the Internet to comment on the Manti Te'o hoax. (previously)
From the comedic duo Key & Peele, mentioned twice before on MetaFilter, comes Pizza Order, the funniest sketch I've seen in years. Their new season has had some terrific moments – Dubstep, I said "Bitch", Slow Brotion, and School Bully, amongst others – but Pizza Order is something special.
Romance novel covers are a frequent subject of ridicule. But they have also featured highly talented illustrators like Alan Ayers, Pino Daeni, Elaine Gignilliat, Phil Heffernan, and Albert Slark. [more inside]
A Scott Pilgrim themed trip to Toronto, followed by a surprise (single-link photo album).
"... That’s the way with epiphanies: You can’t know in advance what they’ll be. Even me. I can see them coming, but I can’t understand something until I understand it.”T he man who can see the future has a date with the woman who can see many possible futures.
Katrina Lumsden reads the Fifty Shades of Grey books so you don't have to:
Fifty Shades of Grey
Fifty Shades Darker
Fifty Shades Freed
(contains animated gifs)
Fifty Shades of Grey
Fifty Shades Darker
Fifty Shades Freed
(contains animated gifs)
Need a blast of pure joy to start your holiday weekend? Here's Isaac's live lip-dub proposal.
"He'd Zooey Deschaneled her, hard. He was a manic pixie dream guy." (Via Nerve.com, potentially NSFWish). Looks like the MPDG has some competition. Includes opinions from HelloGiggles, website of Alpha-MPDG Zooey Deschanel.
Posing like a man: after doing his back in imitating the cover poses fantasy heroines find themselves in (previously), Jim Hines is now trying out the male equivalent. Will these be any more dignified? The answer might surprise you! [more inside]
Many dating websites help increase their numbers by buying profiles from third party brokers.
A study of mobile phone records shows according to Professor Robin Dunbar (of Dunbar's Number), that women drive romance, that they phone their spouses most until their daughters are old enough to have children, and that we may be heading for a renewed matriarchy.
Romance fiction is widely reckoned to be a very low form of literature. Maybe the lowest, if we're not counting the writing at Groupon, or on Splenda packets. Romance fiction: probably the worst! An addictive, absurd, unintellectual literature, literature for nonreaders, literature for stupid people—literature for women!
The Geek Social Fallacies of Sex. (Probably SFW in itself, depending on your W - no naughty images - but links out may go to NSFW content) Holly Pervocracy (previously), a feminist sex blogger, revisits Michael Suileabhain-Wilson's classic but contentious Geek Social Fallacies (previously).
Is online dating destroying love? We are doomed, perhaps, to be unsatisfied creatures, whose desires are fulfilled only momentarily before we go on the hunt for new objects to scratch new itches. Which suggests that online dating sites will be filling us with hopes – and disappointments – for a good while yet. [more inside]
"At my then-boyfriend’s house I opened a drawer to borrow a T-shirt. All the T-shirts were perfectly folded, as if ironed. I knew right then and there that I must run for my life." And other tales of romantic dead ends. capturing the exact moment you realize a relationship is doomed, doomed, doomed.
Navigating Love and Autism - When kissing feels like "mashing your face against someone else’s" and you experience mindblindness, how do you build a relationship? Is it even possible?