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Professor Catherine Roach - Happily Ever After: Gender and Romance Narratives in Popular Culture

CIGS Seminar Series 2013-14
News and Events

Date: 26 February 2014, 5.00pm
Location: Seminar Room, Beech Grove House

In this interactive talk, Professor Catherine Roach presents a chapter from her forthcoming book Happily Ever After: The Romance Narrative in Popular Culture.  This romance narrative is perhaps the most powerful and omnipresent narrative in modern Western culture and functions, indeed, as an imperative for how to live the good life: Find your one true love and live happily ever after.  She introduces the parameters of her project as a performative ethnography in which she writes, as an academic, about how this romance narrative functions while she also writes, as a delighted newbie novelist, works of mainstream romantic fiction.

For this seminar, she tries to unravel the “conundrum of erotic love” in terms of notions of freedom and bondage, examining this conundrum in high art literature but focusing particularly on the top-publishing genre of popular romantic fiction.  The African-American romance novel Indigo provides a framework for this discussion: Can you become a slave for love?  What makes romance empowering, feminist, and freeing?  What does it mean for a man to be “pussy-whipped” by love?  How do today’s romantic novels constitute a massive cultural fantasy space—largely gendered—for the exploration of these questions?