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.