By Dr. Marciene Mattleman

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Professor Mary Bly teaches Shakespeare at Fordham University and until she got tenure kept secret her 20 best-selling romance novels under the pen name of Eloisa James, something not considered respectable for a scholar.

However, in the 1990s intrigued by reader devotion, the Popular Romance Project was conceived: a website supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities, a conference planned for Valentine’s Day at the Library of Congress’ Center for the Book, a nationwide series of library events sponsored by the American Library Association, and a documentary film.

Jennifer Crusie, the pen name for Jennifer Smith, now a best-selling romance author, studied 100 romance novels as part of her research on gender and has become a defender of the genre. As the article in The Chronicle of Higher Education points out, romance is part of human history. Consider Jane Austen and about the $144 billion sales of romance novels in 2012!

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