- Romance 101: Can romance novels turn non-readers into booklovers? – One of my favorite bloggers is Pamela/Badass Romance and this interview with her friend @RomanceProf Jessie Matthews, who teaches an undergraduate course on romance, is the kind of high-quality post that makes her such a pleasure to read.
Jessie: I teach best when I am teaching literature that fascinates me, and romance fiction fits that bill. I like the genre’s diversity, its history, and the questions it generates, such as why are romance novels so popular, and, in some circles, still so widely disparaged? But I chose to teach romance novels for a general education literature course, the one–just one–required literature course for undergraduates at my university, to see if studying the genre could change student attitudes toward literature overall.
So many of my students are resistant to anything literary because “literary” equals “difficult” and time-consuming. They proudly boast that they don’t read novels, hate poetry, and rarely, if ever, see a play. I wanted to see if I could change that “group think” and get students reading fiction (as well as poetry—we do a bit of that as well) by choosing a genre whose outsider status in the academy might make it less threatening, and a genre that focuses on a topic that is of great interest to college students: intimate relationships. I guess you could call this a pedagogical bait-and-switch, but so far it has worked.
- Color-Blind Love, by Seleste Delaney – This post makes me kind of uncomfortable. I’m not at all a fan of the term “colorblind” in this context and it really doesn’t sound like she understands why people are critical of the term. Also, I just don’t think anyone should write pieces on how to write a particular experience unless they share that experience.
Writing Trevor was never about writing an African-American man for me. It was about writing Trevor, who happened to be African-American. I already knew the guy. I knew how he talked (because of who I envisioned as him, he had a British accent, but that’s beside the point), that he was extremely intelligent, and that he didn’t like most people. I also knew he had a thing for Marissa and hated himself for it because of her criminal past.
That was Trevor, and other than looking like Idris Elba, he could have been any race. He was a person first. And so was Marissa. And so was every other character.
Their romance isn’t one about breaking down racial or cultural barriers. It’s about breaking down the walls they built over the years to protect themselves.
- Representation without Understanding – Derek Handley – This post highlights some of the problems I had with the previous link. If you don’t understand the marginalized experience you’re writing about, you run the risk of perpetuating harmful stereotypes. Not all representation is good.
Representation is important. When you’re a kid, it’s about having a positive role model with your defining characteristics. When you’re an adult, it’s about being reminded that you fit in somewhere and escaping into that character. And when you’re going through a major life change, it’s about finding solace in stories that show you that someone understands and that maybe you can overcome the challenges you face.
And that’s why representation without understanding hurts as much as not being represented at all.
- The False Moderate Weighs In – Again, Tumblr’s medievalpoc is a national treasure. Here they thoroughly dismantle a concern troll who offered helpful criticism about the blog’s tone.
The REASON this sounds more like an “angry tumblr blog” to you than a curriculum is because curricula LIKE it have been BANNED BY THE GOVERNMENT. The logical place to go in this day and age as an educator, if you have been prevented from educating, is somewhere you can continue to do so.
This is why the societal segment of the relatively privileged come to tumblr and see a strange and topsy turvy world in which the people who have been systematically, economically, educationally, and and institutionally SILENCED are speaking, although it almost guarantees ongoing harassment as a price.
- Ignorant Shit You Shouldn’t Say to an Adopted Child – The longer I’m on this Earth, the more I think people should be gagged in public until they learn how to behave. The microaggressions (or are some of these just straight-up aggression?) these girls have to put up with just stuns me.
“One time, I was at the mechanic and the counter guy said to one of the girls, ‘You know that’s not your real sister, right?'” Kelley-Wagner recounts. “His coworker rushed over and apologized for him. On another occasion, a bookstore clerk asked, ‘Um, does she look like her real father?'”
After fielding so many inappropriate questions and comments over the years, Kelley-Wagner was struck with an idea. “I wanted to turn this into a teachable moment, especially because I don’t want the girls to internalize this negativity.” So she asked her girls if they felt comfortable posing for photos while holding signs with the comments written out. “They were all for it,” she says. “Lily even said, ‘I think people need to know how rude people are.’ We sat down and made a list and I was surprised at how many incidents the girls remembered that I didn’t.” Kelley-Wagner titled their project, “Things said to or about my adopted daughters” and in January, she posted it on Facebook. This week it began making the rounds on the Internet after getting picked up by a few small blogs and websites.
- Today in Fat Hatred – If you saw that awful piece in the Washington Post from an ER doctor talking about a morbidly obese patient, this post does a great job unpacking the dehumanization and hate in the article.
He doesn’t mean ‘the abdominal pain so bad this man sought medical attention even knowing the rank amounts of hatred and disgust he would be subjected to,’ he means ‘the inner pain that all fat people have which they try to assuage with eating and laziness.’ Because no one is fat for any reason other than emotional dysfunction and a lack of loving themselves. Fat people are broken from the ground up and that brokenness is clearly proved by their fatness.
This narrative is utter reductive, dehumanizing, and vile garbage. The only thing you can tell about a fat person by looking at them is that they are fat. You know nothing about their emotional state, their life, or their inner self; to claim that you do is to continue to silence, marginalize, and dehumanize them.
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An ice hockey fan from north of Boston and the genre's most beloved troll, Ridley enjoys reading contemporary and historical romance, as well as the odd erotica novel. As someone who uses a wheelchair, she takes a particular interest in disability themes.