Monday, September 18, 2023

CFP: Young Adult + Series + Romance

From the Journal of Popular Romance Studies

Proposal deadline December 1

2023 marks the fortieth anniversary of the initial publication of Sweet Valley High. While Elizabeth and Jessica Wakefield may rank amongst the best-known teen romance heroines, the texts themselves exist within a much larger pantheon of series books intended for or read by teens, and featuring romance narratives. The Journal of Popular Romance Studies (JPRS) seeks articles for a special issue devoted to young adult series romance. These articles may focus on YA series romance from any historical period or language context, and may derive from any relevant discipline, including interdisciplinary approaches.

Possible topics may include, but are not limited to:

  • the relationship between young adult literature, series novels, and popular romance
  • ideology within YA series romance
  • literary precursors to YA series romance
  • midcentury series romances aimed at teens
  • 80s and 90s teen romance series, such as Wildfire, Young Love, First Love, or Sweet Dreams series
  • legacies of Sweet Valley High or other YA series romance in current YA romance
  • positive or problematic representations of identity (including race, gender, sexuality, and disability) within YA series romance
  • YA series romance in global perspective
  • sex (or potentially the lack of sex) in YA romance series
  • ghostwriters and/or corporate constructions of teen romance series
  • teen responses to YA romance series
  • YA romance series within fanworks and fandom
  • teacher or librarian reaction to and/or use of YA romance series
  • pedagogical approaches to using YA romance series within the classroom (at any level)
For more details see JPRS.

Thursday, August 31, 2023

CFP: PCA's 2024 National Conference - March 27-30, 2024

 The Romance Subject Area has a call for papers for this conference:


Call For Papers - Ugly Love

When critical attention to romance rebooted in the 21st century, the new wave of scholars made a conscious decision to move away from the often-pejorative approaches of earlier critics and focus instead on romance’s strengths:  an emphasis on women’s pleasure, for example, and models of good communication.

However, romance is an emotion-centered genre, and the sentiments it explores include such ugly feelings as jealousy, envy, and a thirst for vengeance. Ugly themes and ugly tropes also abound (see, for instance, the bully romance, or the recuperation of Nazis as romantic heroes), as well as plentiful examples of ugly behaviors in media cultures surrounding romance (such as the recent sexual harassment scandal that erupted around a section of hockey romance fans on TikTok).

The theme of the PCA Romance area in 2024 is the ugly in romance and romantic media. We encourage you to define this theme broadly, and to think not just about specific texts but also about their creators, consumers and critics, to understand the broader discussions in which these texts are implicated.

We also encourage you to move away from decisionist and diagnostic approaches that seek to position texts on a spectrum of progressivism to conservatism. Our aim in raising this topic for exploration is not to pass judgment, but to enable deep thinking in the scholarly community – to ask questions that go beyond asking whether texts and tropes are “good” or “bad” and think in more nuanced, layered ways about their affordances and the work they perform.

Possible topics on this theme could include:

·      negative emotions, affect theory, and romance

·      tropes: enemies to loves, the other woman, etc.

·      Taming of the Shrew and its remakes

·      erotica and fantasies of submission:  the legacy of Fifty Shades 

·      the villain hero, the criminal hero, the morally grey hero

·      criminal dyads:  Bonnie and Clyde, etc.

·      ugly scandals in book and media culture

·      cheating, lying, and misbehaving love interests

·      break-up revenge songs

·      jealousy in poly romance

·      bully romance, mafia romance, stalker romance, dark romance

·      fantasies of sexual coercion

·      degradation

·      the eroticised abject and/or the eroticised disgusting

·      hate reading and/or hate watching

·      extreme confession/memoir (ex. Bentley's The Surrender, The Story of O, etc.)

·      transactional sex

·      dirty talk

·      ugly emotion and the therapeutic romance

If none of these suggestions appeal, or you simply want to pursue your own intellectual passion, you are very welcome to do so.


More details can be found here. The full CFP has also been cross-posted to IASPR. I think you may have to be/become a member of the PCA in order to submit a proposal.

Sunday, August 27, 2023

CFP: 2024 Conference on Love Studies

Conference on Love Studies, Las Palmas de Gran Canaria (Canary Islands), January 2-7, 2024

They're looking for papers about love:

We consider love in its broad meaning, including different modes and types of love, and various contexts from those that inhibit to those that facilitate the experience and expression of love. Among the variations implied above are:

  • Love at the nature of humans and humanity, philosophy of love, good and bad sides of love
  • Familial love, maternal love, paternal love, the love of children for their parents
  • Love as interpersonal attachment, and pair-bonding love
  • Romantic love, passionate love, obsessional love, lovesickness
  • Love, physical attraction, sex, and diversity of sexual love
  • Companionate, compassionate love, love for friends, and friendship
  • Diversity of polygamy and monogamy in love, polyamory, and open relationships
  • Rational, practical, pragmatic forms of love
  • Love focused on divine and supernatural entities, religious conceptions of love
  • Love as positive social connection, communal and ideological love
  • Para-social forms of love and sex
  • Love directed to oneself, self-love, and narcissism
  • Love for pets and inanimate beings (flowers, money, activities, etc.)
  • The biology and physiology of love
  • The various other types of love and relationships, including those at an intersection between them
Any kind of love is of interest for this conference.

The International Advisory Board has extended the deadline for submission of proposals for presentations at the International Conference on Love Studies, which will be held in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria (Canary Islands) on January 2-7, 2024 (both in-person and virtual formats).

The extended deadline is September 10th, Sunday. See the details at

Sunday, August 20, 2023

New Publications: Masculinity, Race, Sexuality and More

There are a couple of anecdotes from 

Joshua Thorburn (2023). "Exiting the Manosphere. A Gendered Analysis of Radicalization, Diversion and Deradicalization Narratives from r/IncelExit and r/ExRedPill." Studies in Conflict & Terrorism.

which I wanted to share. The whole article's open access, from

Amusingly, one user on r/ExRedPill stated that his deradicalization journey was prompted by reading “soppy romance novels” targeted for women, while in concurrence, another replied that romantic poems and historical period dramas helped him question his red pill beliefs. Because this media focused on romance beyond sexual gratification alone, and the fact that it was either popular with women or targeted towards them, such materials again therefore challenged manosphere claims that women are exclusively driven by an innate desire for the physical attributes of so-called alpha-males. (17-18)

On the topic of men/masculinities, I missed Jonathan Allan's Men, Masculinities, and Infertilities when it first came out in 2022, but the good news is that it's also downloadable for free, from or and includes a chapter each on LaVyrle Spencer's The Fulfillment and The Trouble with Joe by Emilie Richards.

Giovanni, Chiara (2023). "Hetero Ever After? Romance Novels, Race, and the Limits of Social Dreaming." Post45. ["Chiara Giovanni shows that popular romance novels by and about women of color often indulge a positive orientation toward heterosexual desire. Giovanni calls this orientation "heteroidealism" and sees it as an adaptive strategy to forge solidarity between men and women along racial lines."]

Heying, Sarah M. (2023). "Sealed With a Kiss on Your Artery": An Archive of Southern Lesbian Desire. PhD thesis, University of Mississippi. [This isn't specifically about romance but it does have a chapter on Ann Allen Shockley. More details here.]
Kamblé, Jayashree (2023). "The origins of U.S. mass-market category romance novels: Black editors and writers in the early 1980s." The Journal of American Culture. [This hasn't yet been added to a volume, so the pagination available now isn't as it will eventually appear, but it's available (albeit behind a paywall) from here. I've collected some key quotes here.]

Leenstra, Lisa (2023). Covers of Lovers: A Multimodal Comparison of the Front Covers of Romance Novels in 2011 and 2021. Masters thesis, Universiteit Utrecht.  

Nichols, Sue (2023). "Love matters: the case for an inclusive, contemporary approach to romance themes and texts in subject English." The Australian Journal of Language and Literacy. [This is about teaching YA romance/romantic fiction to future teachers of English.]

Stobaugh, Rebecca (2023). Halfway-Sexual: Exploring Demisexuality in American Literature. PhD, Louisiana State University. [This is embargoed until 2030 but apparently discusses Fifty Shades of Grey and Jack Byrne’s Ace. The abstract can be found here.]

Thursday, July 27, 2023

Call for Papers: NEPCA fully virtual conference in October

The 2023 Northeast Popular Culture Association (NEPCA) will host its annual conference this fall as a virtual conference from Thursday, October 12-Saturday, October 14. See

The conference includes a romance/popular romance fiction area, which has put out a call for papers:

Romance/Popular Romance Fiction
Current Chair: Wendy Wagner, Johnson & Wales,

This area invites proposals relating to romance fiction and its influence and adaptations in popular culture. Romance Writers of America, the professional organization of romance authors, identifies two specific features of romance fiction: a central love story, and an emotionally satisfying and optimistic ending. Romance novels generate $1B of sales each year, and the reach of the romance narrative permeates a variety of popular culture texts, from movies and television to music and comics. This area welcomes submissions from variety of disciplinary perspectives. Topics may include:

  • History of the romance novel
  • Analysis of romance readers
  • The romance novel across cultures
  • Romance tropes
  • Politics and activism in the romance community
  • Film and television adaptations
  • Romance fandom and “shipping”
  • The economics of the romance novel industry
  • Portrayals of romance authors in popular culture
  • Controversies in the publication of romance novels
  • Romance book clubs
  • New media and romance novels
  • Library and archival collections of romance fiction

That's here (scroll down the page). Submissions are open until 11:59pm on Monday, August 14 (EST) and there are more details about how to submit a proposal etc here.

Monday, July 24, 2023

Talk by Jayashree Kamblé about her new book: 22 September

Creating Identity: The Popular Romance Heroine’s Journey to Selfhood and Self-Presentation

This is the cover of "Creating Identity." It's black and white and shows a female figure at the sea shore.

Both in person and via Zoom, on Friday, September 22, 2023 | 6pm to 7:30pm

In Creating Identity, Prof. Jayashree Kamblé examines the romance genre, with its sensile flexibility in retaining what audiences find desirable and discarding what is not, by asking an important question: “Who is the romance heroine, and what does she want?” To find the answer, Kamblé explores how heroines in ten novels reject societal labels and instead remake themselves on their own terms with their own agency. Using a truly intersectional approach, Kamblé combines gender and sexuality, Marxism, critical race theory, and literary criticism to survey various aspects of heroines’ identities, such as sexuality, gender, work, citizenship, and race.

Ideal for readers interested in gender studies and literary criticism, Creating Identity highlights a genre in which heroines do not accept that independence and strong, loving relationships are mutually exclusive but instead demand both, echoing the call from the very readers who have made this genre so popular.

You have to register in advance in order to attend. The links to do so are here.

Wednesday, July 19, 2023

Not Just for Academics! Free Romance Conference at Yale in September

A green graphic with a line drawing of a hand holding a book. The text says "Popular Romance Fiction: The Literature of Hope,  September 8-9, 2023,  A free, interactive conference at Yale University"

Popular Romance Fiction: the “Literature of Hope” is a conference event occurring on Friday, September 8 - Saturday, September 9, 2023 at Yale University. This interactive gathering brings bestselling romance writers together with scholars, students, readers, and the public for two days of conversation and events at Yale and in the New Haven community about the nation’s most popular literary genre. Through discussion panels, a romance writing workshop,  documentary screening, historical exhibition, Elm City LIT Fest collaboration, a special keynote event, and more, we examine romance fiction in expansive ways that move at and beyond its surface appearances, exploring its political, material, racial, feminist, and religious histories and manifestations. Confirmed speakers include Roxane Gay, Adriana Herrera, Eloisa James, Beverly Jenkins, Julie Moody-Freeman, Sarah MacLean, Radclyffe, and others.

The conference includes:

How to Write a Romance Novel Workshop with Adriana Herrera and Sarah MacLean 

Love Between the Covers (2015) documentary screening followed by "talk-back with documentarian Laurie Kahn and writers from film Eloisa James, Beverly Jenkins, and Radclyffe on writer experience, making the film, romance as a literary vehicle of hope, and how Romancelandia has changed since the film, with attention to class, race, sexuality, gender, and more."

Book signing

“Popular Romance Fiction: the ‘Literature of Hope’ ” - Keynote conversation between Roxane Gay and Beverly Jenkins on romance and the power and politics of hope.

The full programme and more details can be found here. One of the organisers says that "The program and website will be updated with more details in the coming weeks, so please check back in August for more exciting info."

Friday, July 14, 2023

Survey: Romance Reading and the Pandemic

Anne O'Reilly, Assistant Professor, Electronic Resources Librarian at LaGuardia Community College, who describes herself as "a budding romance researcher [...] interested in romance readership" needs help from romance readers willing to fill in a survey.

With "Romancing the Pandemic: Do Our Reading Habits Change During Times of Stress?" I hope to assess the reading habits of romance readers prior to the pandemic (before March 2020), during the pandemic, and as we return to normalcy (the present). If you could spend some time taking it, I'd really appreciate it.

The survey can be found here.  She says it's been "approved by my institution’s (CUNY) IRB board" and she initially posted the request to a private IASPR Discord group I'm on, but I can't link to that directly.

A quick search shows there's been quite a bit of interest in romance reading during the pandemic. Book Riot, for example, carried out a survey in 2021 and in 2022 Oxford University Press published Reading Novels During the Covid-19 Pandemic by Ben Davies, Christina Lupton, and Johanne Gormsen Schmidt. Anne's survey, though, is trying to find out how reading may have changed over time up to the present. It aims:

to assess the reading habits of romance readers prior to the pandemic (before March 2020), during the pandemic, and as we return to normalcy (the present). It is the hope of this researcher to answer the following questions:

1.) Did non-romance readers, or readers who read very little of the genre, read more romance during the pandemic?
2.) Did these readers continue to read as much romance as we return to normalcy? Or are they reverting to reading habits prior to the pandemic?
3.) Did reading romance make readers feel better during the pandemic?
4.) Reading romance is usually deemed a “guilty pleasure.” Did that change during the pandemic? Now that we return to normalcy, has that guilt returned?

This researcher hopes the results of the survey may show that what we read and how much we read changes during times of great stress. It may also change the way we read when we are unable to access certain content (i.e., printed materials). Romance is often a genre that is not treated with as much credibility as other genres. If this survey reveals the broad range of readers seeking out the romance genre during times of uncertainty, would this perhaps elevate the genre?

As I mentioned, the full survey can be found here if you'd like to respond.

Tuesday, June 27, 2023

IASPR Conference and New Publications: Climate Change, Migration, Readers, History, Libraries

The IASPR conference starts tomorrow and the schedule (with abstracts of the papers to be presented) is available for download here: . The topics for the various panels include: Booktok, Black Romance, Historical Romance, Love Studies, Paranormal Romance, Queer Romance and much more!

The conference will also see the launch of Jayashree Kamblé's new book, Creating Identity The Popular Romance Heroine's Journey to Selfhood and Self-Presentation (which you can read more about here).

In addition, this week only, the ebook version of Publishing Romance Fiction in the Philippines by Jodi McAlister, Claire Parnell  and Andrea Anne Trinidad, which was published earlier this year by Cambridge University Press, is available for free download here.

Here's a list of some other recent publications:

Ali, Kecia (2023). "The End of the World as We Know It: Climate Catastrophe in Nalini Singh's Paranormal Romance Fiction." The Journal of the Core Curriculum: An Annual Literary and Academic Anthology in the College of Arts and Sciences at Boston University 32:81-86. [At the time of adding this to the list, the 2023 volume of this journal wasn't yet available online.]

Burge, Amy (2023). "Romantic Love across Borders: Marriage Migration in Popular Romance Fiction." Contemporary Love Studies in the Arts and Humanities: What's Love Got To Do With It? Ed. Madalena Grobbelaar, Elizabeth Reid Boyd and Debra Dudek. Cham, Switzerland: Springer. 39-49. [Abstract]

Parks, Amy Noelle (2023). "The Feminist Possibilities of Heteroglossic Spaces in Contemporary Young Adult Romance Novels." Journal of Popular Romance Studies 12.

Phipps, Catherine (2023). "‘The Machine for Showing Desire’: Desert Romance Fiction and Knowing Sexual Desire." Historical Research, Creative Writing, and the Past: Methods of Knowing. Ed. Kevin A. Morrison and Pälvi Rantala. New York: Routledge. [Abstract and Excerpt]

Veros, Vassiliki (2023). "Nobody Puts Romance Fiction in the Corner: Public Librarians in New South Wales and Their Dalliance with Romance Fiction." Journal of Popular Romance Studies 12.

Tuesday, May 23, 2023

Free Book: Readers in Context, Sheffield UK 1929-1955

The cover of Steel City by Mary Grover features a photograph of a young girl in a library, selecting some books to read

Grover, Mary (2023).
Steel City Readers: Reading for Pleasure in Sheffield, 1925-1955. Liverpool: Liverpool University Press.

With the exception of Mairead Owen's (1990) thesis, I haven't come across a lot of work which relates to UK romance readers. Mary Grover's new book doesn't focus on romance, but it is open access and available free for download and it provides important insight into a group of readers whose stories would otherwise have been lost to the academic record. She interviewed "65 men and women who shared their reading histories with the community history group ‘Reading Sheffield’ between 2011 and 2019" and

All were born before 1946. Their reading memories were collected by the community history group, ‘Reading Sheffield’, between 2011 and 2019. These readers were born in a time of economic depression followed by wartime and post-war austerity. They grew up in an industrial city which for most of the twentieth century set little store by bookish or clerkly skills. Yet they developed a habit of reading that changed their lives, personally, culturally and economically. How and why did this happen?

There isn't a lot specifically about romance novels, because the focus is on readers and where/how/why they obtained their reading material but I've collected the quotes specifically about the genre here. If you're interested in the history of Sheffield/libraries/reading, this is definitely worth a look.

Sunday, May 21, 2023

Free Book (for a Limited Time Only): Publishing Romance Fiction in the Philippines

This is just an image of the cover of the book. It's very plain: dark green with a giant ampersand on it, title and names of authors.

Jodi McAlister, Claire Parnell and Andrea Anne Trinidad's Publishing Romance Fiction in the Philippines has just been published by Cambridge University Press and "is free online from 19th May 2023 - 2nd June 2023." You can download it from by clicking on the "save pdf" button which appears directly below the summary.

Here's some more information about the book:

The romance publishing landscape in the Philippines is vast and complex, characterised by entangled industrial players, diverse kinds of texts, and siloed audiences. This Element maps the large, multilayered, and highly productive sector of the Filipino publishing industry. It explores the distinct genre histories of romance fiction in this territory and the social, political and technological contexts that have shaped its development. It also examines the close connections between romance publishing and other media sectors alongside unique reception practices. It takes as a central case study the Filipino romance self-publishing collective #RomanceClass, analysing how they navigate this complex local landscape as well as the broader international marketplace. The majority of scholarship on romance fiction exclusively focuses on the Anglo-American industry. By focusing here on the Philippines, the authors hope to disrupt this phenomenon, and to contribute to a more decentred, rhizomatic approach to understanding this genre world.

Friday, April 28, 2023

Nora Roberts and Book Banning

From the Washington Post:

in Martin County, Fla. The school district there recently decided to yank from its high school library circulation eight novels by Nora Roberts that are not “pornography” at all — largely prompted by objections from a single woman who also happens to be a Moms for Liberty activist. [...]

This signals a new trend: Book banners are increasingly going after a wide variety of titles, including romance novels, under the guise of targeting “pornography.” That term is a very flexible one — deliberately so, it appears — and it is sweeping ever more broadly to include books that can’t be described as such in any reasonable sense. [...]

All this shows that red-state book crackdowns are designed to whip up frenzies of book-banning zealotry. Vaguely defined directives enable lone actors to purge whole stacks of books based on frivolous rationales, encouraging parents to hunt for offending books and officials to err on the side of removal. A new PEN America report found nearly 1,500 instances of schools banning books during the first half of the 2022-2023 year, increasingly based on them supposedly containing “pornography.”

“Activists and politicians are inflating the notion of what constitutes ‘pornography’ beyond all recognition,” Jonathan Friedman, director of free expression at PEN, told us. They are going after “romance books, books about puberty or sex education and books that just have LGBTQ characters.”

In related news, on 23 April the 

The EveryLibrary Institute, a national nonprofit focused on public policy and libraries, is proud to announce that bestselling author Nora Roberts and the Nora Roberts Foundation have made a generous donation to support the launch of Fight for the First, its new advocacy and organizing site with a mission of protecting the First Amendment in libraries across the country.

The situation is somewhat different in the UK, but nonetheless,

Research carried out by the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals (Cilip), the UK’s library and information association, found that a third of librarians had been asked by members of the public to censor or remove books, indicating that such incidents “had increased significantly in recent years”, according to Cilip’s chief executive, Nick Poole. The most targeted books involve empire, race and LGBTQ+ themes. (The Guardian)

[Edited later on 28 April to add something AztecLady noted elsewhere on this topic: in the second half of 2022

The romance writer Nora Roberts [...] donated $50,000 to a Michigan library that was defunded in August after it refused to remove a number of LGBTQ+ books from its shelves.

Roberts, an award-winning author of more than 225 romance novels, made the contribution late last month via an online fundraising campaign for the Patmos Library in Jamestown Township, Michigan. (The Hill)