Monday, January 27, 2014

Popular Romance Project Survey

This came over the RomanceScholar listserv today, and I thought I'd pass it along to our readers here as well.  Feel free to pass it along, Tweet it, etc.; the wider the distribution, the more useful the results!
The Popular Romance Project ( website is expanding and needs your feedback! The Popular Romance Project explores the history, study, consumption, and production of popular romance through articles, interviews, and more, and has featured the work of IASPR members including officers Eric Selinger, Pamela Regis, Sarah Frantz, An Goris, Jayashree Kamble, and Chryssa Sharp. 
The new website will greet visitors with questions about popular romance, inviting them to learn more about how romance novels and love stories have grown from the epic tales and poetry of the past to today's billion-dollar industry. Take our survey (10 minutes) to let us know what questions grab your attention and get you clicking:

Thursday, January 16, 2014

New Article: Sex, Power and Desire in the Romance Novel

Maria Nilson's "From The Flame and the Flower to Fifty Shades of Grey: Sex, Power and Desire in the Romance Novel" has been published in Akademisk Kvarter/Academic Quarter 7 (2013): 119-131.
Reading these books [i.e. the Fifty Shades trilogy] mainly as romance, Nilson focuses on how James uses well known and established romance traits from, for example, the so-called “bodice-ripper” novel and chick lit, in order to create a hybrid. These traits are visible in both how James describes her protagonists and in how the relationship between them is portrayed. Nilson argues that the Fifty Shades trilogy is, rather than a new kind of romance, a compilation of well-established traits.
The article is available in full, for free, here.

Monday, January 13, 2014

CFP: Gender and Love Conference

4th Global Conference: Gender and Love
Wednesday 24th September – Friday 26th September 2014
Mansfield College, Oxford, United Kingdom

Call for Presentations

The study of gender is an interdisciplinary field intertwined with feminism, queer studies, sexuality studies, postcolonial studies, and cultural studies (to name just some relevant fields). This project calls for the consideration of gender in relation to various kinds of love (with regard, for example, to self, spirit, religion, family, friendship, ethics, nation, globalisation, environment, and so on). How do the interactions of gender and love promote particular performances of gender; conceptions of individual and collective identity; formations of community; notions of the human; understandings of good and evil? These are just some of the questions that occupy this project. This conference welcomes research papers which seek to understand the interaction and interconnection between the concepts of love and gender; and whether, when, how and in what ways the two concepts conceive and construct each other.

Abstracts should be submitted by Friday 4th April 2014.

More information here.

Monday, January 06, 2014

CFP: Medical Narratives in Popular Culture

Since medicals are a long-established sub-genre of popular romance, I thought this conference might be of interest:

Call for Papers: Medical Imaging II: Medical Narratives in Late Modern Popular Culture, September 11th/12th 2014, Ulm University

there is hardly any research on medical theory, history of medicine, medical ethics and ‘medical practice’ narratives in (still) marginal media such as computer games, comics, etc. Nevertheless, these media forms play an increasingly strong role in the shaping of a collective structure of cognition. Secondly, the interdependencies and exchange processes between Popular Culture and science – particularly with regard to biosciences and life sciences – are explored unsatisfactory.

Therefore, particularly contributions to the following research questions are of interest for the conference “Medical Imaging II: Medical Narratives in Late Modern Popular Culture”.

1. Theoretical research: Which (reciprocal) transfer processes occur between medical science and Popular Culture? What are the consequences of such exchange processes at the ontological, epistemological, scientific, social, aesthetic, narrative, etc. level?

2. Empirical research: Which trends of implementation of medical knowledge into Popular Culture can be observed since the 1950s? Which fictional and aesthetic changes are subject to this influence in movies, comics, computer games and popular science media?

To what extent can retroactive effects be determined, for example in the context of the development of medical imaging techniques, formations of medical education (keyword ‘gamification '), research (keyword ‘visualization of medical knowledge'), the placement of medical knowledge or the relationship between doctor and patient (keyword ,social networks')?

The conference language is English. Deadline for abstracts (450 words max.) is January 31st, 2014 (extended deadline). A publication of the contributions is intended.

More details here.

Friday, January 03, 2014

Beyond "the Defensive Crouch"?


Late in 2013, Noah Berlatsky, who writes for Salon and a number of other on-line publications, began reading and writing about popular romance fiction.  He's coming to the genre from a background in comics and other popular culture, and he's been very responsive--on Twitter and in comments--to suggestions from the romance author and romance scholar community.

Recently at The Hooded Utilitarian he posted some thoughts about Pamela Regis's A Natural History of the Romance Novel, and they've sparked a long discussion in the comments about the virtues and drawbacks of Pam's definition of the romance genre ("a work of prose fiction that tells the story of the courtship and betrothal of one or more heroines protagonists"), of the RWA's definition of the genre, really of the whole effort to define the romance novel, especially in terms of its ending.

Berlatsky is an American writer, but it's clear that his heart is with the Romantic Novelists Association, over in the UK:  that is, he thinks of the genre in terms of the central love story, and not in terms of a particular ending.  (You can read their discussion of the genre here.)  I'm comfortable having two different terms to distinguish the broad category (the "romantic novel") and the narrower one (the "romance novel"); he's not, and sees some potential drawbacks for both authors and readers.

Feel free to weigh in, there or here, on the topic--and keep an eye out for Berlatsky, who's bringing a fresh set of eyes to the genre and to our academic musings about it!

Thursday, January 02, 2014

CFP: The Aesthetics of Love

Call for Papers Aesthetics 24:1 (June 2014)
Theme: The Aesthetics of Love

Aesthetics is a peer-reviewed, open-access journal published online. The journal is indexed through a wide number of scholarly indexing services. For the June 2014 issue, we are inviting papers that explore the theme of the aesthetics of love. This may include explorations of the aesthetic dimensions of love in the arts or in popular culture. Philosophical enquires into the nature and expression of love in culture, as well as papers addressing the social aesthetics of love (e.g., etiquettes) will also be welcomed. 

Contact Dr Zoe Alderton or Ms Vivien Cinque with expressions of interest and abstracts before January 9, 2014 at or Manuscripts will be required by May 1, 2014. See below for a list of suggested research areas. You can view 2013 issues of Aesthetics online at or the journal’s rationale at

Suggested research areas:
  • The ontology of love
  • Love and Eros
  • Representations of love in the arts or popular culture
  • Intimacy and love
  • Love of the nation
  • Love of the land
  • Love of place
  • The aesthetics of love magic
  • Sexuality and love
  • Filial love
  • The aesthetics of absent love
  • Love and death
  • Cyber-based representations of love and intimacy
  • Feminist readings of love
  • Love of material culture

For information regarding submission guidelines go online to