Proposal Title

Contemporary Paranormal Romance: Theories and Development of the Genre’s Feminism (Or Lack Thereof)

Start Date

14-4-2018 9:15 AM

End Date

14-4-2018 10:15 AM

Proposal Type

Individual Presentation

Abstract

Paranormal romance is a contentious subgenre that some critics have castigated as being anti-feminist. Linda J. Lee writes that this subgenre features “male protagonists [who often] come from a cultural background in which men are dominant over women” (61), and Sandra Booth argues that paranormal romances featuring a monstrous hero and angelic heroine hearken back to highly patriarchal forms of gender roles, including consensual sex that reads like violent rape (96-99). However, as the genre proliferated beyond its initial surge in popularity in the 1990s, it—like romance novels generally—matured beyond its beginnings and manifested more complex ideologies. As Lee Tobin-McClain writes, the concept of “collective authorship” of romance causes it to be even more influenced by audience expectations than other literary genres (296), resulting in the need for heightened levels of feminist relationships in popular titles. In this essay, I will be exploring Tobin-McClain’s thesis, along with positioning paranormal romance as a twin heredity form sharing more features of horror and urban fantasy than may initially be apparent. As data points, I will be examining contemporary paranormal romance in the vampire subgenre, specifically Dead Until Dark (Charlaine Harris, 2001), A Quick Bite (Lynsay Sands, 2005), A Shade of Vampire (Bella Forrest, 2012), Immortal Faith (Shelley Adina, 2013), The Art of Loving a Vampire (Jaye Wells, 2013), and Bite Mark (Lily Harlem, 2016). Each of these six books represents an even more specific subgenre within vampire paranormal romance (urban fantasy, family saga, young adult, Amish romance, mystery, and ménage, respectively), and each was first published within the past two decades. By taking into account the scholarly genealogy of paranormal romance pre-2000, I will be seeking to assess whether the work written since that point continues to reflect those themes or if, in fact, several popular exemplars of the genre have grown to exhibit a more overtly feminist sensibility.

Works Cited

Booth, Sandra. “Paradox in Popular Romances of the 1990s: The Paranormal Versus Feminist Humor.” Paradoxa, vol. 3, 1997, pp. 94-106.

Lee, Linda J. “Guilty Pleasures: Reading Romance Novels as Reworked Fairy Tales.” Marvels & Tales, vol. 22, 2008, pp. 52-66.

Tobin-McClain, Lee. “Paranormal Romance: Secrets of the Female Fantastic.” Journal of the Fantastic Arts, vol. 11, 2000, pp. 294-306.

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Apr 14th, 9:15 AM Apr 14th, 10:15 AM

Contemporary Paranormal Romance: Theories and Development of the Genre’s Feminism (Or Lack Thereof)

Paranormal romance is a contentious subgenre that some critics have castigated as being anti-feminist. Linda J. Lee writes that this subgenre features “male protagonists [who often] come from a cultural background in which men are dominant over women” (61), and Sandra Booth argues that paranormal romances featuring a monstrous hero and angelic heroine hearken back to highly patriarchal forms of gender roles, including consensual sex that reads like violent rape (96-99). However, as the genre proliferated beyond its initial surge in popularity in the 1990s, it—like romance novels generally—matured beyond its beginnings and manifested more complex ideologies. As Lee Tobin-McClain writes, the concept of “collective authorship” of romance causes it to be even more influenced by audience expectations than other literary genres (296), resulting in the need for heightened levels of feminist relationships in popular titles. In this essay, I will be exploring Tobin-McClain’s thesis, along with positioning paranormal romance as a twin heredity form sharing more features of horror and urban fantasy than may initially be apparent. As data points, I will be examining contemporary paranormal romance in the vampire subgenre, specifically Dead Until Dark (Charlaine Harris, 2001), A Quick Bite (Lynsay Sands, 2005), A Shade of Vampire (Bella Forrest, 2012), Immortal Faith (Shelley Adina, 2013), The Art of Loving a Vampire (Jaye Wells, 2013), and Bite Mark (Lily Harlem, 2016). Each of these six books represents an even more specific subgenre within vampire paranormal romance (urban fantasy, family saga, young adult, Amish romance, mystery, and ménage, respectively), and each was first published within the past two decades. By taking into account the scholarly genealogy of paranormal romance pre-2000, I will be seeking to assess whether the work written since that point continues to reflect those themes or if, in fact, several popular exemplars of the genre have grown to exhibit a more overtly feminist sensibility.

Works Cited

Booth, Sandra. “Paradox in Popular Romances of the 1990s: The Paranormal Versus Feminist Humor.” Paradoxa, vol. 3, 1997, pp. 94-106.

Lee, Linda J. “Guilty Pleasures: Reading Romance Novels as Reworked Fairy Tales.” Marvels & Tales, vol. 22, 2008, pp. 52-66.

Tobin-McClain, Lee. “Paranormal Romance: Secrets of the Female Fantastic.” Journal of the Fantastic Arts, vol. 11, 2000, pp. 294-306.