In the last fifteen or so years, paranormal romance has emerged as a major rubric of mass-market fiction; major booksellers now have entire sections devoted to the category and its proliferating subgenres (e.g., zombie romance). This course will focus in particular on the fusion of two established genres, the romance and the vampire novel (the latter historically allied with horror and the gothic), as it unfolds in twenty-first-century vampire romance. How does romance and its defining preoccupation with exclusive affection and emotional reciprocity come to interface with vampire fiction, conventionally focused on themes of domination and promiscuous desire? What emerge as the organizing motifs of vampire romance and why does this genre take off at this particular historical moment? In order to engage these questions, we will consider a few different critical approaches to genre fiction and what these offer for understanding both the conventions of vampire romance and the heterogeneous ways specific novels inhabit those conventions. We will remain attentive throughout the quarter, as well, to the complex relations between the novels, the publishing industry, and the readers (especially those active or involved in fan culture).
Required texts will include Charlotte Bronte, Jane Eyre, Jewelle Gomez, The Gilda Stories,
Charlaine Harris, Dead Until Dark, Robin McKinley, Sunshine, Bram Stoker, Dracula, and
J.R. Ward, Dark Lover.