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“You and I are humans, and there is something complicated between us”: untamed and queering the heterosexual historical romance

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journal contribution
posted on 2016-07-01, 00:00 authored by Jodi McAlisterJodi McAlister
Anna Cowan’s Untamed was one of the most discussed and reviewed historical romance releases of 2013. It was a polarising, unusual text, particularly due to its hero: a bisexual cross-dressing duke who passes as a woman for more than half the book. While it adheres to the structure and many of the tropes of what we might think of as a typical heterosexual historical romance, it is also recognisably queer. Untamed is a text preoccupied with the rigid becoming fluid. In this article, I will explore its queerness by reading it alongside Georgette Heyer’s The Masqueraders, which also features a cross-dressing hero. I will draw on David Halperin’s explication of the word “queer” to explore three key aspects of Untamed: the ways in which it approaches gender, social roles, and history, and how these contribute to the book’s project of fluidity. I will also examine online reviews of the book to examine how readers reacted to Untamed’s attempt to queer the straight romance: is this something for which there is an appetite? If so, what does this mean for historical romance in the future?

History

Journal

Journal of popular romance studies

Volume

5

Pagination

1-21

Open access

  • Yes

ISSN

2159-4473

Language

eng

Publication classification

C1.1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal

Copyright notice

2016, International Association for the Study of Popular Romance

Issue

2

Publisher

International Association for the Study of Popular Romance