Williams College to host Conference on Romance Fiction April 21-23

Media contact: Noelle Lemoine, communications assistant; tele: (413) 597-4277; email: [email protected]

WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass., April 11, 2017—Williams College will host a conference devoted to the literary genre of popular romance titled “Reading for Pleasure: Romance Fiction in the International Marketplace,” April 21-23, with major authors, publishers, bloggers, and scholars featured in panel discussions on the world of romance novels.

“‘Reading for Pleasure’ will bring together authors, publishers, bloggers, and scholars of popular romance to explore the genre’s explosion in recent years both in the North America and around the world,” said Julie Cassiday, Williams College chair of German and Russian and professor of Russian. “The events at the conference should appeal to readers of romance fiction, aspiring romance authors, as well as those interested in this highly popular and lucrative sector of the publishing industry.”

The conference will kick off on Friday, April 21, with a 4 p.m. screening of the documentary Love Between the Covers at Images Cinema, 50 Spring St. in Williamstown, followed immediately by a panel discussion with director Laurie Kahn, author Eloisa James, and author/publisher Len Barot (Radclyffe). The screening and panel discussion are free and open to the public.

The conference continues Saturday with three panel discussions that are free and open to the public. All panel discussions will take place in the Brooks-Rogers Recital Hall on the Williams College campus.

From 8 to 10 a.m., a panel moderated by Leyla Rouhi, Williams professor of Romance Languages, will discuss different theories of pleasure. It will feature Laura Frost, an English professor from Stanford, speaking on “Stories of O: The Language of Orgasm in Women’s Romance.” Other panelists include Williams Professor of Russian Julie Cassiday, who will discuss “A World Without Safe-Words: Fifty Shades of Russian Grey;” and Eric Murphy Selinger, English professor from DePaul University, who will discuss “Xenophile’s Paradox: Reading for Pleasure Across the Great Divides.”

At 10:15 a.m., a second panel will explore new subjects and audiences in romance literature. Chaired by Williams Professor of English Alison Case, it will feature best-selling author Sonali Dev, who will discuss “Genre Structure and Learning to Dance Within its Boundaries.” Also featured will be Hsu-Ming Teo, cultural history professor and author from Macquarie University, who will discuss “Tigresses, Tang Dynasty, and the Ten Commandments: The East Asian Romance Novels of Jade Lee, Jeannie Lin and Cammy Tang;” and Jayashree Kamble, LaGuardia Community College English professor, who will speak on “When Wuxia Met Romance: The Pleasures and Politics in Sherry Thomas’s My Beautiful Enemy.” The panel will conclude with a talk by author Len Barot, who writes as Radclyffe and heads the largest publisher of LGBTQ romance, speaking on “Lesbian Romances and the International Market in the Digital Age.”

At 2:15 p.m., the final panel discussion of the day on new media platforms and the global marketplace will be led by Rouhi and feature Fordham University Professor of English Literature and author Mary Bly, known to readers as best-selling author Eloisa James, speaking on “Romancing the World: How and Where American Romance Sells.” The panel also features best-selling author Katy Regnery, who will speak on “From Stay-at-Home Mom to New York Times Bestseller in 30 Months: A First-Hand Perspective on the Digital Revolution in the Romance Publishing Industry;” blogger and author Sarah Wendell of Smart Bitches, Trashy Books who will speak on “The World is So Big; the World is So Small: The Global Community of Romance;” and Patience Bloom, author and senior editor at Harlequin, who will speak on “Harlequin’s International Program: A World of Romance Readers.”

From 5:30 to 7 p.m. Saturday, authors Patience Bloom, Alison Case, Sonali Dev, Eloisa James, Radclyffe, Katy Regnery, and Sarah Wendell will be at Water Street Books, 26 Water St. in Williamstown, signing their books. This event is free and open to the public.

The conference concludes Sunday, April 23, with a final panel discussion that will also take place in the Brooks-Rogers Recital Hall starting at 9 a.m. This panel, led by Williams Assistant Professor of English Emily Vasiliauskas, will feature four professors discussing various aspects of transnational romance. They include Jin Feng, professor of literature at Grinnell College, speaking on “Time-Travel to P & P: Web-based Chinese Fanfic of Jane Austen;” Emily Johnson, associate professor of Russian at the University of Oklahoma, speaking on “Exploring His/Her Library: Reading Books in American and Russian Romance;” Katherina Mohd Daud of the University of Brunei Darussalam, speaking on “How ‘halal’ Are Muslim Romances: Shariah Compliance and Contestations in Ayat-ayat Cinta, The Translator and She Wore Red Trainers;” and Heather Schell, assistant professor of writing at George Washington University, speaking on “After ‘I Do’: Turkish Harlequin Readers Re-imagine the Happy Ending.”


For building locations on the Williams campus, please consult the map outside the driveway entrance to the Security Office located in Hopkins Hall on Main Street (Rte. 2), next to the Thompson Memorial Chapel, or call the Office of Communications (413) 597-4277. The map can also be found on the web at www.williams.edu/map