The Relevancy of Romance Novels at McDaniel

For the second year in a row, The Nora Roberts Foundation has donated money to McDaniel to further the study of romance literature. The $100,000 that she donated was welcomed and greatly appreciated by the English department and has also benefited the Hoover library.

The grant money is helping to fund the popular fiction minor (often mistaken as a romance fiction minor), a romance fiction creative writing course, and the selection of romantic fiction novels in the Hoover Library. This selection will be known as The Nora Roberts American Romance collection.

The concerns of some at McDaniel are that romance novels are not outstandingly popular with the college age generation.

Because females typically read romance novels, I took a survey and randomly asked twelve female students at McDaniel if they read romance novels, and if they do, how often.

The results showed that three out of twelve students actually read these types of novels. The regularity of which they read them ranges from once a year to five times a year.

One female who reads up to five novels a year explained to me why she likes these books so much. She said, “I like reading in general, but only if it is something interesting and relatable. In romance novels, after the first few chapters, I don’t want to stop reading because I want to know what’s going to happen.”

Because only a small fraction of students actually read romance novels, it would call for some concern regarding the frequency of these books in the library actually being checked out. Whether or not Nora Roberts knows the popularity of the genre in the school are unknown, but perhaps she is hoping that with the money and increased attention towards them, it will attract new readers.

Pamela Regis, professor of English at McDaniel, said, “The romance novel’s canon–its body of core texts, essential to an understanding of the genre–is emerging as scholars increasingly treat the romance as literature rather than as one more dismissible cultural artifact.”

She explains that the Hoover library has welcomed these books as part of its permanent collection, something not normally seen by an academic library when it comes to romance fiction. However, as of late, scholars have studied this genre in new ways. McDaniel brings a collection here in an effort to get more people, students and professors alike, to read this genre for a more academic purpose.

Regis adds, “Collection titles are listed in the Library’s online catalog, which makes them appear, via WorldCat, on web searches conducted from anywhere in the world. Collection titles are available for local checkout and interlibrary loan.”

All of this effort is in hopes that the genre will be appreciated for more than it has been in the past, both for entertainment purposes and intellectual ones as well. So if you have not read one before, giving a romance fiction novel a chance may not be such a bad idea, seeing as the school is putting forth such an effort to get it noticed.