Judith Watts (Reading, English) ‘Making Love: reading for pleasure and publishing for profit’

The household name of Mills & Boon invites a wry smile. It can also provoke a heartfelt defence from romance scholars and genre addicts, or equally passionate criticism from feminists and literary critics. Research into the company’s archive shows how the both the brand and romance genre developed, and their impact on publishing, authors and readers.

“No more doubts! No more disappointments!”

The romance made by Mills & Boon was crafted as mainstream entertainment and the company was one of the first in the industry to develop a relationship with the reader.  The correspondence offers a fascinating insight into how the firm constantly balanced the weight of plots and the measured out the desires of characters and authors to produce a profitable reading experience. Despite their conservative reputation, the company understood the value of the emerging categories that catered to changing tastes, and were innovative in adapting to the changing supply chain.  In this seminar Judith Watts explores some of the heavy work that went into maintaining light fiction and ‘Romances That Fill The Till’.

Monday 8th February, 6-7pm, Special collections, Museum of English Rural Life (MERL), Redlands Road.

All welcome!

happy with either

Dr Clare Broome Saunders (Oxford) ‘Through many dreary volumes of archives has she waded’: Louisa Stuart Costello and the 19th Century Literary Market

Louisa Stuart Costello (1799-1870) was a popular and critically acclaimed poet, novelist, travel writer, historian, biographer, artist, and medieval scholar. Her wide-ranging choice of genre demonstrates her acute understanding of contemporary reading trends and publishing markets: Costello offered the first original nineteenth-century version of the ‘Lady of Shalott’, preceded FitzGerald with her adaptations of Omar Khayyam’s verses, and was one of the first of the ‘Lady Travellers’ who demonstrated their connoisseurship and scholarship in the rapidly growing travel book market in the 1840s.

In this seminar, Clare Broome Saunders will share her experience of archival research in piecing together Costello’s life and work, and explore how Costello manipulated contemporary literary markets to make the most out of every piece of archival research she herself undertook, so that she could disseminate her academic medieval scholarship in commercially and critically successful outputs.

http://www.english.ox.ac.uk/about-faculty/faculty-members/research-centre-college-staff/broome-saunders-clare

Monday 25th January (week 3) 1.10-2.15 URS 2s26

All welcome!