Thursday, June 30, 2011

CFP: Steampunk

Steampunk is, according to Romantic Times' Morgan Doremus, "still a relatively new sub-genre in the paranormal/fantasy category" but Heather Massey believes that
Steampunk romance is a subgenre that’s ripe for exploring. I’m surprised it hasn’t happened before now to any great degree. While steampunk-as-argument generally explores many dark themes in the science fiction arena, it’s the Edisonade components of the genre that have the most potential to bear succulent fruit when paired with romance.
The sub-genre may still be relatively small but it's growing, as demonstrated by Meljean Brook's Steampunk Romance Week, so I thought some of TMT's readers might be interested in the following call for papers:
Steaming into a Victorian Future: A Steampunk Anthology

We are seeking contributors for a collection of critical essays on Steampunk. Steampunk remains an elusive topic even among its admirers and practitioners, but at its heart, it re-imagines the Victorian age in the future, and re-works its technology, fashion, and values with a dose of anti-modernism. From sci-fi and fantasy to websites catering to a Steampunk lifestyle, this multi-faceted genre demands greater scholarly analysis.

The editors of this anthology seek contributions in the following suggested subject areas:

Steampunk Film
Steampunk Literature
Steampunk History
Steampunk Fashion
Steampunk Technology
Steampunk Fandom/fan culture
Steampunk Art & Design
Steampunk as Culture/Lifestyle Gender
Steampunk Critiques of existing analyses of Steampunk

Submission Guidelines: Send a 1000 word abstract in Microsoft Word by email attachment on or before August 15, 2011.
More details here.

The photograph (downloaded from Wikimedia Commons) is of a "Steampunk heart pendant made [and photographed] by Vaughn & Sean Saball."

Monday, June 27, 2011

Blogging IASPR 2011

The 3rd IASPR conference is underway and I've been following the many tweets written by attendees. Some of those present have also written blog posts:

24 June - Victoria Janssen posted about how she was "hoping that, in attending this conference, I will meet more of my colleagues in the love of romance fiction, and be enriched by the interaction."

26 June - Megan Mulry writes about "How I Learned to Stop Worrying & Love the Romance Novel" but although she is "comfortable with detached academic observation [...] when I crack open a new romance novel (yes, I am a spine-cracker) I have learned to dispense with academic analysis lest I forfeit the immediacy and urgency that characterizes a particularly good one."

27 June - Amanda Usen "joined the International Association for the Study of Popular Romance because I wanted to learn from people who think about romance a little differently than I do, people with a broader perspective who might, just might, be able to help me write better fiction by explaining how other authors write. I’m out of my comfort zone, but it’s interesting to realize I might not be the only one."

27 June - Cecilia Tan provides "Notes from the IASPR conference: Laura Kipnis keynote."

27 June - Victoria Janssen's photos of the venue.

27 June - at the dinner Theresa, of edittorrent was asked "A Question to Ponder."

27 June - Eloisa James mentioned An Goris's paper in a comment on Facebook.

29 June - "More geeking out about romance from IASPR" by Cecilia Tan.

29 June - Rose Fox comments "that several people at both IASPR and RWA mentioned that magic is now so common in romance that it’s being casually mixed into other genres rather than just being considered a genre of its own."

30 June - "Bertrice Small at IASPR, interviewed by Sarah Frantz & the audience," as reported by Cecilia Tan.

4 July - jmc's notes from IASPR. A detailed summary of the entire conference.

Please let me know if you write one or spot one that I haven't included and I'll add it to the list.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

CFP: GLBTQ Studies and Paranormal Mysteries

On Friday I came across a post by Jana DeLeon in which she mentioned that she'd written a "gothic-lite" for Harlequin's Intrigue line:
Since the book’s release, a lot of writers have asked me how I “got away” with writing a ghost story for Intrigue, which is a contemporary romance line and not a paranormal line. The answer is that I didn’t “get away” with anything. Despite the gothic sound and haunted mansion, my story is not a true paranormal, which is why it works for the line. [...]

The house is reputed haunted. It’s isolated. It’s old and empty and has a history of tragic death. The heroine and hero see things they can’t explain. Sure, some of it turns out to be the villain, but not everything. The rest is unexplained. Was the white figure they saw out in the storm debris blowing in the inky black night or was it something else? That question remains unanswered.
By coincidence (spooky or otherwise), Clues: A Journal of Detection has just put out a call for papers for a themed issue on paranormal mysteries:
Paranormal mysteries often feature the usual suspects (ghosts, vampires, werewolves, and so forth) but also branch into the gothic, spirituality (as in Tony Hillerman's skinwalkers, Michael Gruber’s shaman trilogy), and other magic realism, as well as biochemical transformation (as in the Relic series) and a wide variety of mystery hybrids with horror and dark fantasy. For this theme issue of Clues, potential contributors are urged to think outside the normal boxes. Thematic analysis might include (but is not limited to):

• the paranormal as red herring (explained away by the end, as in Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Hound of the Baskervilles)

• minority culture treated as paranormal (as in depictions of voodoo as horror) in mystery texts

• whether horror/dark fantasy in general requires detection

• the paranormal dialogue with subcategories of mystery: clue-puzzle/hard-boiled/noir/private eye/spy/police procedural/etc.

paranormal romance in relation to romantic suspense

• the mystery ingredients most affected by paranormal hybridity

• women characters as detectives and/or monsters and/or victims in paranormal mysteries

• use and/or overuse of providence and other supernatural means for mystery resolution

• the dialogue between literary and popular gothic texts

• paranormal mysteries as reading tools/pedagogical resources
I put the bit about romance in bold and left out some of the suggested topics. More details can be found here. The deadline for submissions is 29 December 2011.

There's a much shorter deadline for anyone wanting to present a paper to the GLBTQ Studies Area of this year's Mid-Atlantic Popular/American Culture Association conference. They "must be received by June 30, 2011":
Proposals of interest for this year's conference might include:

*HIV/AIDS in Erotic Culture
*GLBTQ Romance Novels
*HIV/AIDS in Popular Culture
*GLBTQ Television Representation
*The Violet Quill writers
*Popular GLBTQ romance novels/novelists
*GLBTQ comics/graphic novels
The use of bold is, once again, mine. Some inspiration, should it be required, may be found at Dear Author, which is celebrating Pride Week. Today's post, written by Sarah, is on the topic of "Book Awards and GLBT Books."

Sunday, June 19, 2011

"Cherishing the Chains of Their Bondage"?

Germaine Greer states of the romance hero that "The traits invented for him have been invented by women cherishing the chains of their bondage" (180). The word "bondage" here was almost certainly intended to mean "the state of being a slave" (OED) but it could perhaps equally well be read as implying a connection between the romance genre and the "sexual practice that involves the tying up or restraining of one partner" (OED). If the latter meaning was implied, it certainly wouldn't have been the first time that BDSM themes had been detected in the genre.

Ethel M. Dell was a successful romance author whose first novel was published in 1912. In 1922
A Bookman feature on the [...] novels of Ethel M. Dell argued that 'the less intelligent and less sensitive girl dreams of an ardent lover and gets a humdrum fellow who makes love without spirit and without inventiveness. To such a girl the Dell hero is a whiff of romance. She responds to him with a sort of masochistic delight.' (Melman 45-46)
Published in 1919, E. M. Hull's The Sheik is one of the most famous of the early 20th-century romance novels;
The Literary Review described the book as 'a poisonously salacious piece' and added that Diana Mayo, the heroine, was 'a sister under the skin of [the Marquis De Sade's] Justine.' (Melman 90)
Billie Melman adds that
One of the bawdiest burlesques [of The Sheik] [...] the anonymous Young Men out of Love (1928), [...] relates, at great length, the abduction and rape of Ali Bim-Seid-Amarcujian by a sex-starved débutante, a comic reversal of the roles of abductor and abducted. [...] The parody is crude and its implication overt: feminine relish in masochism is universal. And, the more emancipated and modern a woman is, the greater her desire to be humiliated and violated. This assumption is quite explicit in the noisy publicity campaign for Valentino's films: 'Shriek or the Sheik will strike you' cried street placards in New York and all over America. (93)
Elizabeth Gargano's analysis of the novel implies that in it sadism is linked to masculinity:
For Hull, as primitive cruelties and brutalities have been "refined" out of the character of the civilized European, erotic power too has diminished. Repeatedly, The Sheik tests the hypothesis that cruelty, passion, and potency are inextricably linked in the psyche. Thus the novel's sadomasochism is not simply an over-the-top extravagance, a flamboyant excess growing out of an erotic escapist daydream. Instead, the sadomasochistic fantasies of rape and attempted suicide that frame the narrative are at the core of the project. (184)
If masculinity has been defined as tending towards the sadistic while femininity has been associated with the masochistic, this may explain the persistence of this type of power dynamic in romantic fiction. Certainly Alison Assiter seems to imply that the romance heroines of the 1980s have a masochistic streak. In "Romance Fiction: Porn for Women?" she suggests that porn
is the representation of the eroticisation of relations of power between the sexes [...]. Thus, what is wrong with porn is that it reinforces men's desire to treat women as 'objects' or at least as a means of satisfying of their desire. (103)
She asserts that
porn for women could not, as some feminists have suggested it might, involve a reversal of the customary male/female roles. Though there are cases where this happens, fantasising 'crushing' a man under her would be, for most women, too risqué, too immoral, too far removed from her experience. (106)
In her opinion romances are porn for women "because they paint a picture of the woman wanting nothing so much as to be desired; they present an image of the woman as passive, responding" (106). And since "porn reinforces the subordination of women, in reading these works women are contributing to the reproduction of their oppression" (101).

What I think Assiter is doing is using "porn" as a shorthand term to refer to any sexual/sensual work of fiction which "
reinforces the subordination of women." Sarah, AgTigress and I have all written posts explaining why we don't think it makes sense to classify romance as "porn" so I don't see much point in repeating those arguments. What's really at stake here is not whether romance is "porn" but whether

(a) fiction affects readers' attitudes and behaviours once they close the pages of their books
(b) romance heroines are presented as "passive, responding."

(c) there is no place in the genre for fantasies of a woman "fantasising 'crushing' a man under her."

As far as (a) is concerned, there does seem to be some evidence to support the idea that readers may be influenced or affected by their reading. If this is the case then it's possible that reading could have both negative and positive effects. As for (b), I think it would be fairly easy to find examples of romance heroines who are not at all passive sexually but, nonetheless, it has to be acknowledged that in m/f romances a lot of heroines but almost no heroes have been in receipt of "punishing" kisses and it has tended to be heroines who are sexually awakened by their heroes rather than vice versa. A sample of the dynamic is provided by Assiter:
'She willingly let his lips dominate hers for as long as he choose [sic]' (Strange Bedfellow, p. 164). [...] In case anyone thinks that this might be a phenomenon brought in by the relaxation of sexual taboos in the late sixties and early seventies, here is Barbara Cartland, writing in 1961: 'He crushed her to him and his lips found hers. He kissed her brutally with a violence which seemed to force the very life from between her lips' (The Runaway Star). (105)
It's (c) which most interests me, however, because it runs counter to the testimony of romance authors such as Daphne Clair:
Romantic heroes are arrogant autocrats and macho males, not because women are masochists but for the same reason that 007's enemies possess all that unlikely technology. Victory over a weak and ineffectual adversary is not worth much. But when a woman has a big, tough, powerful male on his knees and begging her to marry him, that's a trophy worth having! (Clair 71)
That kind of masculine submission may seem rather more metaphorical than the punishing kisses or even rapes inflicted on romance heroines but heroes aren't always physically dominant. In the film The Son of the Sheik (1926), "based on Hull's book Sons of the Sheik but conflating the two "sons" in one - Valentino, who also played his own father in the film [...] adds elements of masochism to the already heady erotic brew" (Garber 310):
In the famous torture scene Valentino, naked to his waist and strung up by the arms to a board, is beaten by two sadistic Germans. Apparently the audience's hysteria knew no bounds. (Melman 103)
If would seem that in Hull's work, at least, physical dominance of the heroine by the hero has its counterpoint in a scene in which the hero is dominated and tortured. Admittedly the son of the sheik isn't tortured by his beloved, but that may partly be a consequence of the fact that overt female dominance/sadism would "involve a reversal of the customary male/female roles." One can, however, find popular romances in which the heroine shoots her hero (Heyer's Devil's Cub and Loretta Chase's Lord of Scoundrels) or has him tied up (Heyer's Faro's Daughter springs to mind).

In some romances one can perhaps discern hurt/comfort elements, with the hero as the protagonist who has been hurt. Hurt/comfort has been defined as
a fan fiction genre that involves the physical pain or emotional distress of one character, who is cared for by another character. The injury, sickness or other kind of hurt allows an exploration of the characters and their relationship. [...] Depending on the fandom and/or the author, H/C stories may also encompass BDSM elements to varying degrees. (Fanlore)
So what do you think? Are there elements of female dominance in the genre which have escaped the notice of critics such as Assiter and Greer?

  • Assiter, Alison. "Romance Fiction: Porn for Women?" Perspectives on Pornography: Sexuality in Film and Literature. Ed. Gary Day and Clive Bloom. Basingstoke, Hampshire: Macmillan, 1988. 101-109.
  • Clair, Daphne. "Sweet Subversions." Dangerous Men and Adventurous Women: Romance Writers on the Appeal of the Romance. Ed. Jayne Ann Krentz. Philadelphia: U of Pennsylvania P, 1992. 61-71.
  • Garber, Marjorie. Vested Interests: Cross-Dressing and Cultural Anxiety. 1992. New York: Routledge, 1997.
  • Gargano, Elizabeth. "'English Sheiks' and Arab Stereotypes: E. M. Hull, T. E. Lawrence, and the Imperial Masquerade." Texas Studies in Literature and Language 48.2 (2006): 171-86.
  • Greer, Germaine. The Female Eunuch. 1970. London: Paladin, 1971.
  • Melman, Billie. Women and the Popular Imagination in the Twenties: Flappers and Nymphs. Houndmills, Basingstoke, Hampshire: Macmillan, 1988.

Friday, June 17, 2011

CFP: Academic Monographs and Essay Collections

Pickering & Chatto "are currently seeking proposals for two new series, Literary Texts and the Popular Marketplace, and Gender and Genre." Both series "will be aimed at the academic, research and advanced postgraduate markets."

Gender and Genre

Series Editor: Ann Heilmann

This series is dedicated to publishing intellectually innovative and diverse studies on the relationship between gender and genre from the Renaissance to the contemporary.

Studies on women as authors or readers have regularly sought to negotiate the issue of genre in interpreting gendered forms of writing and reading. Are there historically specific types of publication that speak to different genders? Is there such a thing as a woman’s or man’s text? And how consciously do writers across historical periods play with the seemingly gendered conventions of specific modes of writing? This series opens up the study of the particularity of gender in relation to the aesthetic forms and media used by writers across different periods.
More details here.
Literary Texts and the Popular Marketplace

Series Editors: Kate Macdonald and Ann Rea

In the past, critics and writers anxious to build the canon have often focused on the 'highbrow' or high culture dismissing other writers to the derogatory category of 'middlebrow' or 'popular' literature. Some writers and texts actively resisted such prejudices or embraced popular appeal through a willingness to address a wide audience. Other texts were dismissed from the canon because they were written by women, addressed women’s concerns, or because they appeared connected with strands of the middle- and working-class inimical to high culture.

This series offers monographs and edited collections of essays that examine the extents and effects of writing that resists the uncritical embrace of the highbrow. Crossing both cultural and geographic boundaries, it will bring together interdisciplinary studies of texts, writers, readers, producers and distributors. It will highlight current debates about the politics of mainstream readerships and media, about the designation of audiences and material methods of circulation and will address contemporary critical concerns. By attending to how these texts resist the 'high' cultural imperative it is possible to learn how culture is commodified for particular classes and the role that gender and social class play in the production of those categories.
More details here.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Sex and Sentimentality: On Women Writers

VS Naipaul, [...] winner of the Nobel prize for literature [...], who has been described as the "greatest living writer of English prose", was asked if he considered any woman writer his literary match. He replied: "I don't think so." Of Austen he said he "couldn't possibly share her sentimental ambitions, her sentimental sense of the world".

He felt that women writers were "quite different". He said: "I read a piece of writing and within a paragraph or two I know whether it is by a woman or not. I think [it is] unequal to me." The author [...] said this was because of women's "sentimentality, the narrow view of the world". (Fallon)
When Naipaul made these comments last week I contacted Smart Bitch Sarah to pass on some information about a response to them and elaine mueller then left a comment containing a quotation from Dale Spender's The Writing or the Sex? or Why You Don’t Have to Read Women’s Writing to Know It’s No Good. I was intrigued and wanted to find out more about Spender's views. Here are some quotes from her Mothers of the Novel: 100 Good Women Writers Before Jane Austen which demonstrate that Naipaul's comments are just the latest in a long line of attempts to denigrate women writers by casting them and their writing as sentimental and limited:
That Jane Austen, Maria Edgeworth, Fanny Burney and many more good women novelists wrote 'love stories' is not in dispute. What is at issue is the way in which the love stories of women have been devalued. For it is not that male novelists from Samuel Richardson to D. H. Lawrence have not written love stories, but that when they have done so they are called by a different name - and are accorded a more deferential status. D. H. Lawrence is not labelled as a writer of romantic fiction: his reputation would be eroded if he were.

That women writers have had their mobility constrained and their access to certain areas of life reduced, is not at issue. But so too have men. And what is at issue is that the partial experience of half the population - that of women - is judged to be narrow, second rate, specialised, while the partial experience of the other half - that of men - is held to be supremely significant and universal. Such a value judgment which is associated with the status of the sex and not the quality of the experience leads to the absurd situation where Jane Austen is patronised as a prisoner of the country parsonage while the parameters of T. S. Eliot's office pass without critical comment.

Even if it were the case that women writers were unable to directly participate in the more turbulent and treacherous ebb and flow of life (and to assume that male experience is more turbulent, treacherous and 'alive' than that of women is questionable indeed) there is no evidence that direct participation in the entire gamut of human involvements and emotions is necessary in order to portray them convincingly in writing. (163)
The reception of the novel Mary Barton demonstrates the extent to which the presumed sex of the author, rather than the subject or style of the writing itself, can shape the reception of a text:
When it was believed that Mary Barton was written by a man, the Athenaeum (1848) was full of praise for the author's grasp of politics and the fair and forcible portrayal of the working classes [...]. But when known to be written by a woman, the whole tenor of the criticism changed. It is not the political acumen of Elizabeth Gaskell but her ability to promote sympathy which becomes the focal point. Her emotionalism, her lack of objectivity are soon 'discovered' and the broad canvas of class politics is reduced - by the critics - to a 'sweet and fragrant' love story. The literary records are tampered with and rewritten to the extent that Elizabeth Gaskell's 'mental palate fed always as it was on the fruit and frothing milk of her nursery days, kept a nursery simplicity and gusto. And in consequence her whole picture of life is touched with a peculiar dewy freshness, shimmers with a unifying, softening light' [...].

This is the woman writer who not only provided a fair and forcible account of class politics but who, in Victorian times, dared to write about prostitution, unmarried mothers and dominated wives - from a woman's point of view. (164-65)
Of particular relevance to this blog and its readers is one of the conclusions Spender reaches about the consequences of these sexist attitudes towards women authors:
The terms 'women's novels' and 'romance' are often used interchangeably and to signify deprecation. Whether this is the result of the low status of women being transferred to 'romance', or the low status of 'romance' being transferred to women, is not possible to determine. But as there is little justification for the wholesale devaluation of women, so too is there little justification for the wholesale devaluation of 'romance'. As Margaret Jensen (1984) has pointed out, such dismissal generally occurs before and not after an examination of the facts. [...]

Now anyone who has defied convention and actually studied women's writing would not want to contend that all women writers are excellent and all romances works of art. But most would want to suggest that it is nonsense to lump together all women's novels and to call them 'romance' [...]. Not only is this practice unjustified in terms of the diversity of the writing: it is unjustified in terms of the bad name it gives to romance.

For there is nothing inherently inferior or deficient about romance. When it is the substance of men's writing it can become an exploration of human relationships and provide an insight into the human condition. And to think that the status of the woman writer could be improved by the repudiation of romance is just as misguided as thinking it could be improved by the repudiation of sex. The derisory connotations of woman and romance are equally undeserved and there are good grounds for seeking to reclaim both woman and romance, instead of subscribing to the inferiority of either. (166-67)

I chose the image because of a comment made by Jane Austen in a letter dated
December 16th 1816, to James Edward Austen

This comment to her nephew has been famous (or infamous) since its publication in her brother Henry's "Biographical Notice" in 1817, even though it is probably one of the most facetious of all her proclamations, in its way:

"What should I do with your strong, manly, spirited Sketches, full of Variety and Glow? -- How could I join them on to the little bit (two Inches wide) of Ivory on which I work with so fine a Brush, as produces little effect after much labour?" (
The dimensions of the portrait, painted in watercolour on ivory, are 2 1/2 x 2 in. It was, however, probably painted by a man: "Portrait of Mrs. Franklin Haven (Sarah Ann Curtis); about 1830. Attributed to: Thomas Edwards, American, 1795–1869." I downloaded it from Wikimedia Commons.

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

CFP: Out of Print and Boys' Love

Out of Print: The Evolution of Twentieth-Century Writing

A one-day conference, funded by the Faculty of Humanities Graduate School Knowledge Exchange Grant and in association with CUE East, will be hosted by the School of Literature and Creative Writing at the University of East Anglia, on Friday 16th September 2011.

Rediscovery of neglected writing, the re-branding of second-hand books as desirable retro objects and an ever increasing plethora of film and television adaptations bring questions of the legacy and future of twentieth-century writing into ever-sharper focus. The conference aims to bring together postgraduates, academics and publishers to examine the wide variety of ways that writing comes to be ‘out of print’. The conference will explore all aspects of the theme to ask: Why are some writers neglected? How can we read the position and problem of writing that is no longer published? What is at stake during the movement from page to other mediums? With the dawn of the kindle, what about the materiality of books, journals, newspapers? Has the role of small imprints changed, and what are the implications of print on demand? What happens at the margins of the printed?

Call for Papers: We welcome papers that engage with any aspect of the theme ‘out of print’. Topics may include, but are not limited to:
- Neglected or forgotten authors who are either no longer published or who have been brought back into print.
- Questions of reputation, gender, language and translation that might affect printed status.
- Spaces between ‘high’ and ‘low’, academic and popular, short story and novel.
- How print responds to demand: the role of reader, publisher and media in reading trends and retro fashions.
- As block becomes laser: charting changes in what it means for something to be in print.
- The changing roles of small print runs, magazines and journal publication throughout the twentieth century.
- Notes in the margins: the place of libraries and archives in terms of access to writing that is out of print.
- From page to stage: out of print into film, television, theatre, radio.

You are invited to submit 300 word abstracts for papers of 20 minutes to by Thursday 30 June 2011. More details here.

TWC (Transformative Works and Cultures) Special Issue CFP: Transnational Boys’ Love Fan Studies (March 2013)

Edited by Kazumi Nagaike and Katsuhiko Suganuma, Oita University

‘BL’ (Boys’ Love), a genre of male homosexual narratives (consisting of manga, novels, animations, games, films, and so forth) written by and for women, has recently been acknowledged, by Japanese and non-Japanese scholars alike, as a significant component of Japanese popular culture. The aesthetic and style of Japanese BL have also been assumed, deployed and transformed by female fans transnationally. The current thrust of transnational BL practices raises a number of important issues relating to socio/cultural constructs of BL localization and globalization.

Scholarly endeavors in relation to BL can be enriched by further research concerning the activities of transnational BL fans, fan communities, fandom, and the production of fan fiction. Most previous BL fan studies have remained circumscribed to Japan and North America. Therefore, in order to further develop transnational BL fan studies, we are seeking contributors who are engaged in the exploration of non-Japanese and non-North American contexts (e.g. Europe, the Asia-Pacific region, Africa, and others). Transnational BL fan studies may also be incorporated into the broader socio/political critical frameworks offered by studies in economics, gender/sexuality, race/class, and other areas.

We welcome submissions dealing with, but not limited to, the following topics:
  • Case-studies and ethnographic examinations of BL fans, specifically examining fans’ sex/gender, age, occupation, class, race/ethnicity, et cetera.
  • Local ethnographies relating to BL fans’ production, distribution, and use of these materials. Discussions concerning the ways in which broadly framed socio/political issues or forms of consciousness (e.g. gender/sexuality formations, authorities’ interference, censorship, and so forth) impact fans’ BL activities.
  • Media and social responses to fans’ involvement in BL activities.
  • Commercial aspects of BL and fans’ contribution to the development of BL economics.
  • The integration of research on BL fans into a wider discussion of social theory, differing cultural discourses, and globalization.
  • Discussions concerning the ways in which BL fans’ forms of production, distribution, and consumption might challenge traditional notions of Author, Reader, and Text.
  • Theoretical overviews reflecting traditional/contemporary ideas of fandom, fans, fan communities, and fans’ means of communications, demonstrating how these ideas specifically relate to BL fans.
  • Explorations of the ways in which BL participants are motivated to become involved in other fan-oriented activities (e.g. cosplay; female fans’ cross-dressing as male BL characters).
More information here and here.

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

CFP: Animals and/in Romance

The Journal of Popular Romance Studies (JPRS) seeks essay submissions for a special forum examining the role of animals in popular romance media (fiction, film, TV, music video, etc.) from around the world.

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 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,, TheHideaway (Simon), mcamcamca, Vicki DeLoach, voyageAnatolia, Paul Wellner Bou, and Yamanaka Tamaki.