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Two small gems of wisdom have come to my attention.  As they both made me think long and hard about my approach(es) to reading romance novels, I’ll share them both.

First, at my convocation last weekend, the address was given by Professor Wendy Doniger, who teaches at the Divinity School of the University of Chicago.  In her address entitled “Thinking More Critically About Thinking Too Critically: Reading Past the Classics,” Doniger spoke of the necessity of reading through or past the problematic elements of what is considered “classic” literature.  She described three stages of response to racist, sexist, imperialist and otherwise problematic constructions in texts.  First, there is the unthinking acceptance of structures of oppression that characterizes the initial production and reception of the work.  Second, there is the critical backlash that sees nothing but the racism, the sexism, the flaws in logic, and the lack of human feeling.  Finally, Doniger spoke of a third response that recuperates the whole value of the text while simultaneously remaining honest about the text’s participation in structures of oppression.  She characterized the movement from the second to the third response as (memory don’t fail me now!) moving from a “hermeneutics of suspicion” to a “hermeneutics of reconciliation or recovery.”  It was an interesting final challenge from a university that spent four years training me to be entirely (too) critical.

Second, in the introduction to Indiana (translation by Sylvia Raphael), George Sand writes,

Criticism is far too clever; that is what will be the death of it.  It never judges straightforwardly what has been done straightforwardly.  It looks for midday at two in the afternoon, as the old saying goes, and it must have done a great deal of harm to those artists who pay too much attention to its opinions.

Those are fightin’ words as I continue to wonder just how much leeway I have to pick up a text and run with it.

As I only have a precious few days left with my final batch of books checked out from the Reg, I should soon be done with my essay on Loretta Chase’s Mr. Impossible and Lisa Pollard’s work on imperialism and domesticity.  Until then, enjoy your summer reading!

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Back from Scav

I’ve been off and away thanks to the absolute insanity that is UofC’s annual Scav Hunt, often billed as the largest scavenger hunt in the world.  This year saw me building a Playmobile vomitorium, going on a treasure-hunt type journey through sw Chicago/Evergreen Park, and roasting a lamb stuffed with a chicken stuffed with a Cornish hen out on our quad for nine hours.  All in all, it was a most excellent hunt (it doesn’t hurt that my own ArmyDillo won!) and now I am back to romance novels.  I’m planning a post on parody in genre fiction and another on colonialism and romance novels (tentatively comparing As You Desire, Mr. Impossible, and Duke of Shadows, which had me sobbing into my pillow this weekend).

 

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Business time

Conditions are perfect!

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I want to start off with dangerous men, sexual violence, and the romance in honor of April.  Tentatively speaking, I will compare the dangerous but nuturing men of Robyn Carr’s Virgin River series with the more ambiguous heroes in Mary Balogh’s The Secret Pearl and Patricia Gaffney’s To Have and To Hold.

My general plan is to write something interesting and issues-driven about once a week.  Reviews might pop up at any time, depending upon my capricious whims.

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