Ireland and the Popular Genre of Historical Romance: The Novels of Karen Robards

Pilar Villar-Argáiz


This essay looks at the interconnections between the cultural industry of popular romance and best-selling novels set in an Irish historical context. In particular, it examines two best-selling novels by North American author Karen Robards, which have not yet been examined in academia: Dark of the Moon (1988) and Forbidden Love (2013; originally published in 1983). Although this small selection constitutes only a preliminary study of an expanding popular genre, it is my hope that it will serve as a relevant example of how Ireland is exoticised in the transnational cultural industry of romance. Drawing on several studies on popular romance (Radway 1984; Strehle and Carden 2009; and Roach 2016), and on specific sources devoted to the study of historical romance, in particular when set in exotic locations (Hughes 2005; Philips 2011; Teo 2012; 2016), I intend to demonstrate how these novels by Karen Robards follow the clichés and conventions of the typical romances produced in the 1980s. As I show, the popularity that Robards’ novels still enjoy reflects the supremacy of the genre and the wide reception of this kind of fiction in the global market.

Keywords: Cultural industry; popular romance; Irish context; market.

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Esta obra está licenciada sob uma licença Creative Commons Atribuição 4.0 Internacional.