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REWRITING ROMANCE: EXPLORATIONS OF COURTSHIP, SEXUALITY, AND GENDER IN POPULAR CULTURE

Maria DeBlassie, deblassiem@unm.edu

 

COURSE DESCRIPTION
This 300-level course examines what we talk about when we talk about love, sex, and gender in popular culture.  The courtship narrative is one of the oldest forms of the novel genre, dating back to the 18th century. But are our contemporary romantic narratives all that different from classics like Pride & Prejudice?  Be it in fictional, poetic, or cinematic form, we can’t seem to stop talking about love. 

This course explores that changing courtship narrative and rituals across various cultures, time periods, and social contexts.  We will contrast the traditional marriage market—including the economic and social reasons a woman would need to marry—with often conflicting sexual and romantic desires in these narratives to understand the (often terribly unromantic) politics behind courtship. 

We will likewise explore how traditional 18th- and 19th-century gender, marriage, and sexual ideologies are reinforced in our contemporary narratives—and resisted.  Integral to understanding the romance in modern culture is the shift away from set gender binaries toward a gender-fluid spectrum, as well as how cross-cultural relationships, and advances in technology necessitate new perspectives when it comes to talking about love.  We’ll study heteronormative, gender-queer, and cross-cultural romances and how they address issues of interracial relationships, Native American blood quantum, and queer love. 

In short, this class takes the traditional concept of romantic narratives as “by, for, and about women” and spins it on its head, looking at how we attempt “rewrite romance” in popular culture. 

 

READINGS AND TEXTS
Short Texts:

Excerpts from John Gregory’s A Father’s Legacy to His Daughter’s (1761)

Excerpts from Lord Chesterfield’s Advice to His Son on Men and Manners (1774)

Excerpts from Sarah Wendell & Candy Tan’s Beyond Heaving Bosoms: The Smart Bitches’ Guide to Romance Novels (2009)

Excerpts from Sarah Wendell’s Everything I Know About Love I’ve Learned from Romance Novels (2011)

Excerpts from Dan Savage et al.’s How to Be a Person: The Stranger’s Guide to College, Sex, Intoxicants, Tacos, & Life Itself  (2012)

May a Rodale’s “The Real Men Who Read Romance Novels” (2014)

“The Secret Lives of Male Romance Novelists” (n.d.)

Longer Texts

Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice (1813)

Haruki Murakami’s Norwegian Wood (1987)

Tanaya Winder’s Words Like Love (2015)

Love Beyond Body Space, and Time: An Indigenous LGBT Sci-Fi Anthology (2016)

 

FILMS AND OTHER COURSE MATERIALS
Art and Visual Culture

William Hogarth’s “Marriage a-la-mode” Paintings (1743-45)

Jean-Honoré Fragonard’s “The Progress of Love” Paintings (1771-1772)

Félix Frédéric d’Eon’s Gay Loteria (2016)

Esquire Magazine Covers

Cosmopolitan Magazine Covers

Salsa Dancing (guest lecture)

Bachata Dancing (guest lecture)

Flamenco Dancing (guest lecture)

Land of Enchantment’s Romance Author’s Association (guest lecture)

Movies

Some Like It Hot (1959)

High Fidelity (2000)

Bride & Prejudice (2004)

Something New (2006)

Television Episodes

The Mindy Project, “Harry & Sally” (S1E13, 2012) & “Harry & Mindy” (S1E14, 2012)

Jane the Virgin, “Chapter One” (S1E1, 2014)

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, "Pilot" (S1E1, 2015) 

STUDENT REQUIREMENTS
Students will be required to attend class regularly and be prepared for active participation and discussion of course texts. In addition to active participation and assigned readings, assignments include daily short in-class activities and exercises; a short oral presentation and guided discussion on a particular topic or reading for class; two 2-4 page analytical essays on given texts; a group presentation project; and one 5-8 page research paper on one or more of the course texts and/or tropes.

ABOUT THE INSTRUCTOR
Maria DeBlassie earned her B.F.A. in Creative Writing from UNM. She went on to earn both her M.A. and Ph.D. in Eighteenth- and Nineteenth-Century Literature from the University of Washington. She is currently full-time faculty at CNM and, when not teaching, is writing and blogging about everyday magic and simple pleasures. Her interests include the playful tension between high and low art, literature, and culture; contemporary romanticization of history; courtship narratives and rituals; and interdisciplinary and intercultural education.