This article analyses portrayals of Scottish female herring workers on the covers of romance novels and investigates how far these representations conform to, or subvert, the genre of romantic fiction. Covers are analysed to establish whether they accurately portray Scottish female herring workers at their labour. If romanticisation of the women's working role is evident, the ways in which this manifests itself and the possible reasons for this romanticisation are examined. Composition of images and the mise-en-scene of covers are analysed, as well as aspects concerning the narratives of the novels, and elements of herring processing work that are noticeably absent in the depictions are also considered. These elements excluded from the covers are examined through theory relating to the abject in an attempt to ascertain whether the covers potentially provide models of female empowerment for the reader.
And here are some of the romance novel covers in question.
I'll spare you the trouble of reading the article by summarizing its findings. Gutting herrings is smelly, dirty work. This is not accurately portrayed on romance covers. (Thanks to Dave Monroe!)
The Westermarck Effect is a psychological phenomena named after Finnish anthropologist Edvard Westermarck. The effect is that (according to Wikipedia): "when two people live in close domestic proximity during the first few years in the life of either one, both are desensitized to later close sexual attraction." Which is why most people don't get the hots for their sibling.
However, if siblings don't grow up together and only meet for the first time later in life, they may be intensely sexually attracted to each other. This is known as genetic sexual attraction, or GSA. Again, from Wikipedia:
Several factors may contribute to GSA. People commonly rank faces similar to their own as more attractive, trustworthy, etc. than average... Shared interests and personality traits are commonly considered desirable in a mate... In cases of parent-child attraction, the parent may recognize traits of their sometime mate in the child. Such reunions typically produce complex emotions in all involved.
Finally, there is the phenomena known as the Westermarck Trap, which occurs when two people who have grown up together (and thus are sexually desensitized to each other) are expected to marry each other, because of an arranged marriage. According to one theory, this is what the novel Frankenstein depicts:
Students of the Westermarck effect may be interested to know that this trap is depicted in the novel Frankenstein by Mary Shelley, in which Victor Frankenstein is expected to marry a cousin reared with him. Instead, he creates a monster that persecutes him and murders his prospective bride before the marriage can be consummated. It is suggested that the plot owes something to Mary Shelley's own experience of the Westermarck effect, following a childhood in which she was reared with a stepbrother. Her own personal solution was not to create a monster but to elope with a married man (Percy Bysshe Shelley) at the age of 16.
If you decide to shop for books at LifeWay Christian Stores, you may notice that some of the books are marked Read with Discernment. This label is to warn you that these books "may have espoused thoughts, ideas, or concepts that could be considered inconsistent with historical evangelical theology."
Presumably, if a book hasn't been so tagged, everything in it can be accepted blindly without discernment.
Today we feature a guest post from that miraculous writer of the fantastical, the great Don Webb.
Take it away, Don!
Many of my generation have discovered (sometimes with the help of a certain herb) that the opening sequence of Wizard of Oz matches up with Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon. Co-incidence or happenstance? Who can say? Was Pink Floyd under the "influence" of Frank Baum?
Another strange co-incidence has come to light. The lyrics of Gilligan's Island perfectly match up with Led Zeppelin's "Stairway to Heaven."
Happenstance? Then riddle me this -- why does Gilligan's Island have exactly the same theme as Jean Paul Sarte's NO EXIT?
Each one of the characters represents one of the 7 deadly sins:
- Ginger represents LUST - she wears skimpy outfits, is obsessed with her looks, and is a borderline nymphomaniac.
- Mary Ann represents ENVY - she is jealous of Ginger's beauty.
- The Professor represents PRIDE - he is an annoying know-it-all.
- Mr. Howell represents GREED - no explanation needed.
- Mrs. Howell represents SLOTH - she has never lifted a finger to help with their escape plans.
- The Skipper represents two sins: GLUTTONY - again, no explanation needed and ANGER - he violently hits Gilligan on each show.
- This leaves Gilligan. Gilligan is the person who put them there. He prevents them from leaving by foiling all of their escape plots. Also, it is HIS island. Therefore, Gilligan is SATAN.
One of the weirdest books you'll ever read is by my pal, Steve Aylett, and it's titled Lint. (You can order it through the Amazon link below.)
Lint is the "biography" of Jeff Lint, poverty-stricken, mad genius, hack writer, who is basically a cross between Kilgore Trout and Salvador Dali.
One of Lint's fictional creations was a comic-book character dubbed "The Caterer." And now you can read an actual issue of this gonzo masterpiece, thanks to Floating World Comics. A sample is to the right.
You must investigate this saga of one man and his senseless quest for perfect absurdity in a violent world, or risk being rendered null and void!
I'll be away in Seattle from Friday October 10 through Monday October 13, attending the launch party of my new novel, Cosmocopia. But I've stacked up four posts in the queue, all new FOLLIES OF THE MAD MEN. Enjoy!
Paul Di Filippo
Paul has been paid to put weird ideas into fictional form for over thirty years, in his career as a noted science fiction writer. He has recently begun blogging on many curious topics with three fellow writers at The Inferior 4+1.