Category: Features

Becoming Rodin’s Lover: Camille Claudel and Mental Illness

“Why have there been no great women artists?” feminist art historian Linda Nochlin asked in her 1971 essay of the same title. She explained that, while there have absolutely been women artists of skill, character, and genius, they have struggled against the social and institutional frameworks that encouraged their male counterparts. One of these women,… Read more →

World War II Romance Takes Flight: With Every Letter by Sarah Sundin

A confession: I am a fairly new romance reader. I only picked up my first true romance novel about a year ago. However, I grew up hearing a true story that could be straight out of a historical romance. My grandparents met and had a shipboard romance just after World War II as they served… Read more →

“Stories in Plain View”: Cat Sebastian’s Revolutionary Queer Historical Romances

It’s no secret that I love romance novels. At its best, the genre challenges traditional narratives by offering emotional and sexual agency to characters who are so frequently denied both; not only women, but gay, lesbian, nonbinary, and queer characters. In a world that continues to wrestle with equity, bodily autonomy, and consent, romances are… Read more →

Amor Vincit Omnia

On June 23, 2016, I flew to London with my husband after a research trip in Germany. There were storms that night and the flight was delayed several hours; we arrived close to midnight. A friend picked us up and drove us through a torrential downpour into central London. In her car, listening to the… Read more →

The Gender Politics of the “Sexy Chef” in Romance Literature

After finishing my master’s degree in Gastronomy in July 2013, I gave myself an academic reading palate cleanser.1 I devoured dozens of romance novels that summer before I began my PhD. Some were good: saucy and satisfying. Others were less good: dull and uninspired, though still relatively enjoyable, like the breadsticks at Olive Garden. One… Read more →

Hijabophobia: An Unseen but Entirely Visible Force

In August 2017, a burqa-clad woman stepped into the chambers of the Australian parliament and sat down. To the individuals behind the cameras, she was entirely unknown. But for the members of Parliament, it was all too obvious who she was and what she was trying to do. The black cloth came off to reveal… Read more →

A Curious New Woman: Veronica Speedwell

It is June 1887, and London is preparing to celebrate Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee, marking the 50th year of her reign. The once young and luminous Queen is now, however, a plump German widow, viewed increasingly by many as little more than a symbolic figurehead. In 1887, the British Empire is vast, covering nearly 25%… Read more →

A Very Lost Cause Love Affair; or, Is It Possible to Write a Good Civil War Romance?

Ask anyone who knows me, and they’ll tell you: I love romance novels. Seriously — after signing up sort of as a joke, I fell hard for Audible’s Escape Package and binged books about everything from Vermont apple farmers to Regency wallflowers. And while some people might want their escape reading to be as far… Read more →

More than Accomplices: The Crimes of Hitler’s Female SS

The names most commonly associated with the Holocaust are undoubtedly Heinrich Himmler, Joseph Goebbels, Adolph Eichmann, and, of course, Adolph Hitler himself. Modern society tends to attribute the worst crimes of Nazi Germany to the murderous SS and their collaborators. The notoriety of these famous faces makes it seem that men were solely responsible for… Read more →

Mujeres Libres: Women, Anarchy, and the Fragility of Democracy in Spain

Prime Minister of Spain Pedro Sanchez decided to call a snap election in April 2019 following the withdrawal of support by the Catalan separatists who were propping up his government. The short-term implications of another general election in Spain were great, as the lack of a stable government in recent years has impacted Spain’s social… Read more →