Manual Entangled with Other Stories

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An entangled web
  1. Teeny Tiny Time Travel
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  4. Entangled Narratives | Metanexus

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Mind the Skills Gap. Bullish on Blended-Learning Clusters. As such, I feel there is a gap to be filled, particularly regarding research particular to the Creative Writing discipline. Popular Romance is a genre that is frequently dismissed as trivial. Its commercial nature means its authors are often conceptualised as craftspeople rather than artists, and the form and content of romance novels are not infrequently held up to ridicule. Romance authors do engage in self-reflective writing on blogs and in social media, in articles in mainstream print media, and in the occasional book chapter but there is a lack of extended exegetical writing.

As a heavily formulaic genre, popular romance risks being dismissed as all plot and no depth.

Dutch Folktale

The fact that Cartland managed to publish a mind-boggling books in her lifetime and win the Guinness World Record for most books published in a single year: 23 only serves to strengthen the suspicion that Romance is easy to write and hard to take seriously.

Cultural theorists and critics discuss the work of Romance authors, but I, for one, crave an insight into how these authors conceptualise their own work, what their processes are, and how their politics intersect with their novels. What do romance authors think about the rape fantasy? How do they conceptualise their use of it? What do they think about the use of the alpha hero, who can be abusive towards the heroine?

What do they think about the Happily Ever After and heteronormativity?

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As a feminist, I want to know what these women because Romance authors are primarily women think about their feminised genre. I want to hear from them, not just from critics writing about them. I know that their novels speak for them, but I am curious to hear them reflect on their writing.

Discussion of the conscious crafting of their romance fiction would reveal a depth of engagement with the genre and with issues that concern women in our culture that would be highly revelatory. It would challenge many sexist assumptions made about romance authors and the fiction they write.

As a researcher and a reader and an author, I feel the absence of their exegetical writing. My response to that absence is to write. These versions of myself are all writing in response to the same core questions: how have feminist critics theorised popular romance? And where is my romance writing situated in the context of feminisms and popular romance critiques? In this essay I want to explore my first steps towards this end. An Emotionally Satisfying and Optimistic Ending — Romance novels end in a way that makes the reader feel good.

Romance novels are based on the idea of an innate emotional justice — the notion that good people in the world are rewarded and evil people are punished. In a romance, the lovers who risk and struggle for each other and their relationship are rewarded with emotional justice and unconditional love. Fuchs, The critical and feminist responses to Romance have been mixed, running the gamut from aligning romance novels with pornography, to labeling it a tool of oppression a way of training women to accept the roles of wife and mother in a patriarchal system , to thinking of it as an opiate for the masses, an addiction, a distracting sop for women too dumb to know better, to seeing it as an encoded response to the tensions and frustrations caused by living in a patriarchal culture.

In this sense, romantic fantasies are a tool for women to mediate their own culture and their role in that culture. In a Romance, being a lover, a wife, and a mother matters ; it is celebrated. This is clearly an over-simplification but it gestures towards the cultural value romances have and the cultural work they do.

The HEAis a reward, albeit a fictional one. Happy endings are something we all long for. In reality each and every one of us will face disappointment, separation, and bereavement. The best possible ending, happy loving partners living into old age together, still ends in the final parting of death.

Entangled with the World

Romance novels choose to end the story before this inevitability; they conclude on the highest, happiest point, in a moment when the heroine is recognised and accepted and loved for who she is, when she is not alone. The HEA is a non-negotiable element of romance and one I want to use in my literary romance novel it is already a staple in my historical romances. The parameters I am giving myself for the literary romance is that it must be structured around at least one romantic relationship between a man and a woman although there may be more than one , and that it must end optimistically, with a happy ending although not necessarily the same kind of happy ending as a traditional romance.

I do not want to sidestep the inevitability of suffering. The other major point of difference my literary novel will have with most generic romance will be the use of language. They contend that,. Romance readers have a keyed-in response to certain words and phrases the sardonic lift of the eyebrows, the thundering of the heart, the penetrating glance, the low murmur or sigh. Because of their past reading experiences, readers associate certain emotions — anger, fear, passion, sorrow — with such language and expect to feel the same responses each time they come upon such phrases.

This experience can be quite intense, yet, at the same time, the codes that evoke the dramatic illusion also maintain it as illusion. Fantasies work only through identification and projection: readers project themselves into the fantasy world, with the goal of experiencing what the heroines experience and having the full emotional affect. Romances are about emotion and emotional affect.

Literature with a capital L , on the other hand, is not primarily concerned with evoking emotion or constructing an escapist experience. Literary works are generally accepted to be a mixture of artistic experimentation or expression, intellectual inquiry, observation of, and comment upon, the human condition, philosophical thought, and original personal vision. The stress on originality and personal vision is key. The conceit is that literary works are unique, whereas popular romance is a genre that works within established generic conventions and the creativity is in how one renders the fantasy and what one does with the conventions.

As Tess LeSue, I am happy to play within those generic conventions and to create a fantasy space and evoke emotional affect. But in my literary romance I want to stretch things a little further. I want to see if I can create the fantasy and the emotional affect while also creating a literary work, one that experiments with poetics, pursues an intellectual inquiry into the relationship between feminism and romance, reflects on the human condition in relation to love and romance, and expresses an artistic vision that is unique to me.

Part of my challenge is not to mock, or to be ironic, but to take love and romance seriously. Romance novels are earnest about love. This is a necessary part of creating emotional affect, but it also reveals the vulnerability behind our ironic fronts: love is important to us as humans, and loving relationships in their myriad forms are a goal for most people. Taking this sentiment as my starting point, I want to find a poetics that captures this ideal, without resorting to the well-worn tropes and codes of romance.

As a starting point for the literary novel I chose to write a love letter. Love letters are intimate but also a performance, crafted to seduce or to expose the vulnerability of dearly held feelings. They are a communion between lovers.

Entangled Narratives | Metanexus

The direct address is a formal feature that allows for a certain measure of bluntness, which is actually more elegant in the case of writing about love than trying to dramatise the same material in a scene or through dialogue or thought. The craftedness of the written letter allows for a level of lyricism and poetry, making an effective form with which to experiment with a poetics of love and romance. In the novel one of the lovers will have a chronic mental illness, so I used this as the pivot for the letter. The resulting letter is language-dense and philosophical, thick with imagery, and is not sustainable for a long short story, let alone a novel.

But it contains ideas I hope to pursue the conceit that the myth of the red thread is akin to string theory, for example and the tone manages to capture a sense of optimism in the face of harsh reality. The formality of the language belongs to another era, recalling earlier centuries when people conducted love affairs through letters and notes, and when writing was a love play and a formalised rite of seduction. But the language is alien to romance novels, which, although they can be purple in patches, tend towards directness. I want to capture the poetry without the density; and the emotional affect without the coded language of romance; but most of all, I want to find a voice unique to me, an honest way to write about love in a meaningful, affective way.

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  8. Or at least this is what one of the heads of the Hydra will be doing; another will be busy writing the next historical romance; and a third will be researching feminism and popular romance. But this beast is no longer pulling in opposite directions; instead, it is using its multiple heads to its advantage, each one expanding the research.

    Today you are sad.

    Lost in the dark woods of yourself, you are a small and hurting being in wilds that stretch as far as the eye can see. Today the smallest things not done fill you with despair. You see cracks in the walls, dust on the shelves, dirt on the windows, unpaid bills, unwashed clothes; you see all that is undone and you are undone. You look at your flesh and it revolts you. You wish you had never been. When you get like this, there is nothing to do but to climb into bed beside you.

    I pass warmth from my skin to yours and wait it out with you, knowing that it is the most I can do. Sometimes, I rub your back. And sometimes I talk, following my thoughts as they swim to the surface. This is something you laugh at, when you are well, my urge to say everything I think.