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“A Little Wildness”: Negotiating Relationships between Human and Nonhuman in Historical Romance

  • Christy Tidwell
Part of the Palgrave Studies in Animals and Literature book series (PSAAL)

Abstract

A shirtless man embraces a beautiful, busty woman. He kneels before her and rests his head on her chest as she holds his head in place with one hand and rests the other on his muscular shoulder. They are lost in each other and in the throes of desire. This is standard fare for a particular type of romance novel cover art (what Sarah Wendell and Candy Tan call “Old Skool Romance” in Beyond Heaving Bosoms: The Smart Bitches’ Guide to Romance Novels), and it is both easily recognized and readily mocked for its clinch poses and lurid sensuality. Another common feature of these covers, less frequently remarked upon, is their incorporation of one or more animals. The cover art for Ecstasy’s Chains by F. Rosanne Bittner, which guides my initial description, features a pair of horses in the background. One white and one gold, they both rear onto their hind legs and intertwine their forelegs as the white horse stretches its head over and across the neck of the gold horse. The passion of the humans’ embrace is echoed in the passion of the horses’ engagement. Whether with a pair of animals to echo the human couple or just one animal—quite often a horse rearing behind the couple—these romance novels’ cover art returns repeatedly to the animal.1

Keywords

Human Habitat Companion Species Binary Opposition Happy Ending Historical Romance 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Copyright information

© Christy Tidwell 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Christy Tidwell

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