Academics awarded romance research grant to explore contemporary Australian romance landscape

The Weekly Book Newsletter from Books+ Publishing announced before Easter that a group of Australian academics have been awarded funding from the Romance Writers of America’s Academic Research Grant Program. Drs Beth Driscoll (University of Melbourne), Lisa Fletcher (University of Tasmania) and Kim Wilkins (University of Queensland)—who is also a romance author under the pseudonym Kimberley Freeman—will use the funding to study ‘the genre world of romance in 21st-century Australia’. The project will include interviews with the authors, as well as agents, editors and publishers involved in writing and producing romance novels.

In an exciting new development, we can confirm that Beth and her colleagues will attend the RWA conference in Melbourne to live and breathe the world of Australian romance. The RWA has agreed to support their research project by providing them with two complimentary passes to the conference.

Beth Driscoll

Dr Beth Driscoll

‘We plan to use the opportunity to conduct some of our interviews and to learn more about the world of contemporary Australian romance,’ says Beth. She says about their project:

Romance fiction is one of the strongest selling sectors of the Australia publishing industry. But what does the production and consumption of romance reveal about Australian literary culture? This project will build knowledge about Australian romance fiction by investigating how Australian romance fiction texts, their authors, and other people in the publishing industry build and maintain the genre in Australia.

This project will develop our concept of the “genre world” of 21st century Australian romance by producing three rich case studies of novels published in the last two years. We will select our case studies to provide a cross-section of contemporary Australian romance, making sure to include different subgenres such as paranormal romance, romantic suspense and historical romance, a mix of debut and established authors, and different publishing formats and platforms. In addition to closely reading our case study novels, we will interview the authors and other industry professionals associated with the books, including agents, editors and publishers. This interdisciplinary approach will uncover the dynamic ways in which romance texts come into being.’

The team will make the outcomes of their research available through a free e-book of interviews and in an academic journal article.

More about the researchers and their books

Beth Driscoll is Lecturer in Publishing and Communications at the University of Melbourne, and the author of The New Literary Middlebrow: Tastemakers and Reading in the Twenty-First Century (Palgrave 2014).

Lisa Fletcher

Dr Lisa Fletcher

Lisa Fletcher is Senior Lecturer in English at the University of Tasmania and the author of Historical Romance Fiction: Heterosexuality and Performativity (Ashgate 2008).





Kim Wilkins

Dr Kim Wilkins

Kim Wilkins is Senior Lecturer in Writing at the University of Queensland, and has also published twenty-six genre novels in fourteen languages, including six romance novels under the pseudonym Kimberley Freeman.




More about the RWAmerica grant program

The Romance Writers of America grant program seeks to develop and support academic research devoted to genre romance novels, writers and readers. For more information, visit the website here:





Leave a comment


  1. I am very interested in the outcomes of this research.

  2. elizabethellencarter

     /  April 10, 2015

    Me too Claire. This will be a fascinating project.


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