Jayashree Kamblé F'21

Jayashree  Kamblé
Associate Professor
English
City University of New York, LaGuardia Community College

Mellon/ACLS Community College Faculty Fellowships 2021
Associate Professor
English
City University of New York, LaGuardia Community College
BIPOC Writers, Editors, and Novels: The Missing Chapters in the Story of Mass-Market Romance

The contributions of BIPOC authors and editors of mass-market romance have often existed on the fringes of the genre’s scholarship. This project centers these sidelined histories through archival research on interviews, reviews, and industry newsletters, as well as close readings of romance novels starring BIPOC, and authored and edited by BIPOC. The project identifies BIPOC progenitors of romance novels in the United States in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries through two foci: African American editor Vivian Stephens, who sought out and nurtured Black romance, and publishers who either marginalized non-white romance writing or made it visible. Retrieving these biographies and novels fleshes out the history on BIPOC romance and disrupts this popular form’s seeming whiteness. As the genre now confronts its lack of diversity and role in normalizing bigotry, documenting BIPOC romance history shows how the industry contributed to our contemporary reactionary zeitgeist but also how it can combat it.