largelectureclassLast month I blogged about class romance authors I wish would come back; in particular, I mentioned Judy Cuevas’ Bliss, which I’d recently read, and how it would be on my reading list for Romance Novels 101, assuming such a course ever existed (and that they would pull me out of the ranks of peons to teach it, of course).

So I decided to do some digging, and Googled “romance novels course.”  And lo and behold, they exist!  Kind of.  The London School of Journalism, NYU, and Ryerson (in Toronto) offer romance novel creative writing, and some popular lit courses have romance components.

Even more exciting was seeing that Lauren Willig and Cara Elliott, aka Andrea Pickens, actually taught a seminar on historical romance novels at Yale in 2010, from Jane Austen and Heyer through Woodiwiss, McNaught, Kleypas, Chase, and Quinn.  I can only imagine the finagling, sweet-talking, scowling, and outright determination that led to the course, but all I can say is I wish I could have been there.  (One class even had an expert panel with Eloisa James.  Dang it.)

Anyway, all of this got me thinking: If I taught an introductory university course on romance novels, what would I put on my reading list?  I had to remember that as a course meant to highlight the general development of the romance novel, readings would be exemplary, representative, or seminal.  So I might not like the book, and it may not even be very good, but it was probably important somehow.

I got some ideas from Willig and Elliott’s syllabus and list of required texts (scroll down) and also from Pamela Regis’ A Natural History of the Romance Novel. After hemming and hawing, here’s what my Romance Novels 101 Reading List would look like, in approximate chronological order:

The Classics

Modern Mothers

The 80s and 90s: Refining a Genre and Breaking the Rules

With the exception of the last, I’m stopping in the mid-90s for two reasons.  The first is that this list could get veeeeeeery long.  The second is that I’ve deliberately omitted the more recent years, which includes not only historicals and contemporaries, but also the paranormals, M/M, inspirationals, etc. etc.  I can’t decide, and even if I could, I wouldn’t in this space.  (See reason #1.)

So I’ll turn it over to you.  What do you think of my list so far?  What else would you contribute?  And would you ever take such a course?  (My answer: Hell yes.)

– Jean AAR