How and why do animals mediate, complicate, or facilitate romance narratives? What role do animals—both real and imagined--play in courtship rituals or the articulation of sexual desire? In fiction and film, the romance genre abounds with creatures of all kinds, from the leopard in Bringing Up Baby and the dogs in Jennifer Crusie’s novels to the werewolves and dragons and undefined “Beasts” in fairy tale and paranormal love stories. Why does romance need animals, and what does this say about the relationship between love, desire, animals and human beings? How do invocations of the “animal” in romance differ from culture to culture, era to era?
Essays might explore a variety of questions and concerns, such as:
- If animals have traditionally been aligned with the oppressed (women, slaves, the lower classes), how might the representation of animals shed light on issues of gender, race and class?
- Conversely, since animal metaphors are often deployed to construct masculinity (the “alpha male”) as well as femininity (woman as horse to be broken, or falcon to be tamed), how might the representation of animals shed light on those same issues?
- Are there similarities in the representations of love for an animal and romantic love between humans?
- How might recent Animal Studies theory be brought to bear upon popular romance media?
- Conversely, what do theories of popular romance have to contribute to Animal Studies?
- How are historical changes in petkeeping or animal rights activism reflected in romance media?
- How might recent scientific discoveries about the nature of animal sexual behavior (the flourishing of homosexuality among animals, for example, or new research into the non-monogamous behavior of species previously believed to mate for life) influence contemporary romance narratives?
- What does it mean to be human in a narrative world filled with animals? How does the representation of animals relate to the representation of human desire, emotion, and subjectivity?
- What role do Bestiality and Zoophilia, broadly defined, play in the genre of paranormal romance, or in romantic deployments of animals more generally?
Essays of up to 10,000 words (MLA citation style; Word documents preferred) should be submitted to An Goris, Managing Editor of JPRS, at email@example.com by December 1, 2011. Please note in your subject line that your submission is for the Forum on Animals in Romance Media. Suggestions of potential peer reviewers are welcome.
[Edited: "Due to an error in the original submissions email address, submissions to the special forum on Animals and / in Romance have been getting bounced back to their authors as undeliverable!" To avoid confusion, I have now amended the address included in this post. The deadline has been extended to January 6, 2012.]
All eye images were downloaded from Flickr where they were made available under Creative Commons licences. They were taken by mikebaird, jcmar.net, TheHideaway (Simon), mcamcamca, Vicki DeLoach, voyageAnatolia, Paul Wellner Bou, and Yamanaka Tamaki.