Love is a many-splendored thing, even if it might be in short supply at Humber College.
Romance fiction continues to dominate the printed word, making up 13 per cent or $1.08 billion in sales within the U.S. fiction market last year according to the Romance Writers of America. Yet students are less inclined towards old-school romance, especially using school resources.
Media library technician Maria Soares said the most popular movies checked out on the library’s video streaming service, which carries more than 16,000 titles, are cult favourites like Fight Club or the The Breakfast Club.
“We carry a lot of classic (romantic films), much of the old Cary Grant stuff, but they’re mostly used by film and TV faculty in their courses,” said Soares.
Soares said she was a fan of Pride and Prejudice, but even her tastes run more towards fantasy like Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter.
Professor Suzanne Senay, who teaches a course called the Philosophy of Love and Sex, said the library collection caters to the curriculum, which is restricted by administrative rules.
“Books in the library are not mandated to reflect popular taste,” said Senay.
She said her class does involve reading about love in poetry.
“(Poetry) captures particular views on the nature of love that (show it) is extremely powerful and positive, and how it enriches our lives and gives us experiences that other aspects of life don’t give,” Senay said.
She said it’s important students be equipped to critically analyze their notions of romance.
“Most people think, ‘I want to get married, I want kids, I need love to be happy.’ These are assumptions reinforced by our culture at large,” Senay said.
“When students take a philosophy course, they are there to learn about philosophy,” said Senay.
“This includes philosophic moral views, beliefs about the kinds of beings that we are, the nature of science, the nature of art.”
“Students might think they don’t want to read Aristotle and Plato, they might want to read Fifty Shades of Grey,” Senay said. “But it’s only when you start reading critically, what you learn takes you beyond the exposure you might get from fiction.”
Systems support library technician Adam Weissengruber said the Humber libraries field a lot of questions about their fiction collection, which can fall short of demand.
“We certainly try to take suggestions. If students mention a book over time, we’ll try to report that to our collection team. This is their library, so we try to find books that are not just coursework,” said Weissengruber.