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.]