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Young Center lecturer traces roots of Amish romance novels

"Bonnet book" genre first appeared nearly a century ago

Valerie Weaver-Zercher Valerie Weaver-Zercher, author, editor and Fall 2011 Snowden Fellow at Elizabethtown College's Young Center for Anabaptist and Pietist Studies, unveils the complex history of Amish romance novels during a lecture, titled "Thrill of the Chaste: Tracing the Ancestry of the Amish Romance Novel," at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 17, in the Bucher Meetinghouse of the Young Center for Anabaptist and Pietist Studies. The lecture is free and open to the public.

While the birthdate of Amish romance novels frequently is named as 1997, when Beverly Lewis' "The Shunning" was published, the first Amish romance novel had, in fact, emerged nearly a century earlier. Amish-themed novels continued to appear in ensuing years, refracting many of the social, religious and literary movements of the 20th century. Recently, a Lewis-authored Amish romance trilogy was made into a musical, which has been offered at a performance venue in Bird-in-Hand, Pa., since September.

Based in Mechanicsburg, Pa., Valerie Weaver-Zercher is a writer and editor of features, essays, op-eds and book reviews, which have appeared in a variety of publications, including the Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, Christian Science Monitor, Orion, Publishers Weekly, Sojourners, The Christian Century, Christianity Today, Books & Culture, Mothering, Brain, Child, Literary Mama, The Mennonite, Mennonite Weekly Review, The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and The Other Side, among others.  Weaver-Zercher's essay "Holding Baby Birds" was nominated for a Pushcart Prize and received special mention in the Pushcart Prize XXXIII anthology (2009), and she received a 2009 Individual Artist's Fellowship in creative nonfiction from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts.

An internationally recognized scholarly research institute, the Young Center for Anabaptist and Pietist Studies at Elizabethtown College conducts and promotes research about Anabaptism and Pietism and interprets the life, faith and culture of Anabaptists and Pietists through public lectures, exhibits and conferences. For more information about the Young Center, please visit



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