Doctoral candidate Emily Lawrence will present their research at the 2018 Popular Culture Association National Conference, which will be held March 28-31 in Indianapolis. Lawrence will give the talk, "Promoting Romance Reading and Improving Taste," during the Libraries, Archives & Museum area's "Embracing Scorned Literature" session.
According to Lawrence, objections to taste elevation are woven throughout the practical literature of contemporary Readers' Advisory (RA), the core library service dedicated to helping library patrons select leisure reading materials. Their talk will examine taste elevation and the romance genre.
"Do recent efforts to get library patrons reading popular romance constitute an instance of taste elevation? An affirmative answer may at first seem counterintuitive, since the romance genre is both profoundly popular and consistently denigrated," said Lawrence.
"Drawing on Hume's account of the ideal critic, I argue that good taste encompasses not merely improvements to what some reader prefers, but to the virtues of discernment that reader evinces. Efforts to persuade readers to try romance are (at least in some instances) geared towards instilling such virtues."
Lawrence received a BA in comparative literature from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, and an MLS from the University of Maryland, College Park. Prior to beginning the doctoral program at Illinois, Lawrence worked in reference and web services at the National Library of Medicine. Their primary research interests include political philosophy in LIS, readers and reading, and aesthetics (especially taste and recommendation). The title of their dissertation is "Reading for Democratic Citizenship: A New Model for Readers' Advisory."