The Wicked Problem of Colonies in Historical Romance

Activity: Talk or presentation typesOral presentation


In writing historical romance fiction about colonial history, I position the genre itself and the inevitable reinscription of colonial values and the nostalgia for past imperialism (Bhaba; Mar; Rosaldo), as part of the ‘wicked problem’ (Rittel and Webber) of living in and writing about colonies. How can a romance novel set in the historical frontier of the American West, or an Ozstorical set in the historical colonies of Australia, offer a nuanced and empathic view of the colonial historical landscape when that landscape is the site of invasion, oppression and violence? How can this landscape provide the setting for a romance novel, a genre built on fantasy and optimism; a genre fundamentally defined by happy endings? Is it possible to create an optimistic fantasy world which allows for complexity, for ‘and/also’ instead of ‘either/or’? This presentation is an exegetical exploration the ‘wicked problems’ I navigate as a practicing romance author.
Period6 Dec 2021
Event titleInternational Association of Popular Romance Studies : Concepts in Popular Genre Fiction
Event typeConference
LocationMelbourne, AustraliaShow on map
Degree of RecognitionInternational


  • colonial fiction
  • historical fiction
  • historical romance
  • romance fiction