Thursday, March 24, 2016

CFP: Representations of Romantic Relationships and the Romance Genre in Contemporary Women’s Writing

Representations of Romantic Relationships and the Romance Genre in Contemporary Women’s Writing

Saturday 11th June 2016, Sheffield Hallam University

Co-hosted with the Postgraduate Contemporary Women’s Writing Network

‘…It would be at best grossly incurious and at worst sadly limited for literary critics to ignore a genre that millions and millions of women read voraciously’ (Pornography for Women is Different, Ann Snitow, 1979)
Almost forty years have passed since Snitow’s ardent defence of the importance of recognising and examining the romance genre, however critical consideration of the romance remains limited. Some have suggested that this could be a result of a snobbery associated with romantic fiction, or perhaps even more startlingly due to a general lack of interest in the literature women write and read (Light [1984], Philips [2006] and Radway [1984]). Critic Emily S. Davis states ‘Romance…does not get much love in critical circles…it is no coincidence that the areas most frequently dismissed as inconsequential…are precisely those identified with disempowered groups such as women and queers.’

Although there remains an overall absence of criticism the importance of women writers’ relationship with the romance and the effect it has on women readers has been acknowledged, particularly in relation to feminism. In ‘‘Returning to Manderley’ – Romance Fiction, Female Sexuality and Class’ Alison Light acknowledges that romances are ‘…often seen as coercive and stereotyping narratives which invite the reader to identify with a passive heroine who only finds true happiness in submitting to a masterful male.’ In contrast the most well-known and acclaimed critic on the genre, Janice A. Radway, stressed ‘Romance is being changed and struggled over by the women who write them.’ Indeed, contemporary women writers from the Booker Prize winning Margaret Atwood to the self-proclaimed ‘chick-lit’ writer Sophie Kinsella have written novels which use the romance genre and/or focus on romantic relationships and could be seen to be part of a re-writing of the genre.

Given the significant links between the romance, women writers and women readers, conversation around the presence of the genre in contemporary fiction is crucial. This symposium seeks to encourage this discussion.

Topics may include yet are not limited to the thematic list below:

• The presence of romantic relationships and the use of the romance genre in contemporary women’s writing

• The relationship between the romance genre and feminism

• The perception of romance as a low-brow genre, and the extent to which this perception offers critical and intellectual insights into debates about how we define women’s writing and cultural contribution

• The future of the romance genre within contemporary women’s literature

A 250-word abstract for 20-minute papers including a brief personal statement, should be submitted to by Friday 8th April 2016.

[Details as posted at]

Saturday, March 19, 2016

CFP: Romance at the Midwest Popular Culture Association

Call for Papers: Popular Romance

2016 Midwest Popular Culture Association/American Culture Association Conference
Thursday-Sunday, October 6-9, 2016
Chicago, IL
Hilton Rosemont Chicago O’Hare
(Conference info:

Deadline for submission: 30 April 2016.

Love and romance are pervasive elements in popular culture, showing up in film, television, fiction, manga, advertising, advice columns, pop songs, and more. We are interested in any and all topics about or related to popular romance and its representations in popular culture (fiction, stage, screen—large or small, commercial, advertising, music, song, dance, online, real life, etc.)

Topics can include, but are not limited to:
•       critical approaches, such as readings informed by critical race theory, queer theory, postcolonial studies, or empirical science
•       depictions in the media and popular culture (e.g., film, television, literature, comics)
•       literature and fiction (genre romance, poetry, animé)
•       types of relationships (marriage, gay and lesbian)
•       historical practices and traditions of and in romance
•       regional and geographic pressures and influences (southern, Caribbean)
•       material culture (valentines, foods, fashions)
•       folklore and mythologies
•       jokes and humor
•       romantic love in political discourse (capitalism)
•       psychological approaches toward romantic attraction
•       emotional and sexual desire
•       subcultures: age (seniors, adolescents), multi-ethnic, inter-racial
•       individual creative producers or texts of popular romance
•       gender-bending and gender-crossing

Submit a one-page (200-250 words) proposal or abstract by 30 April 2016 to the Popular Romance area on the MPCA/ACA website Please include name, affiliation, and e-mail address with your abstract. MPCA/ACA can provide an LCD projector for presentations, but it must be requested with your proposal. If necessary, indicate and submit potential scheduling conflicts along with your proposal. If you wish your presentation to be listed as MACA (rather than MPCA), please include this request with your proposal.

More conference information can be found at

For further inquiries or concerns, please contact Popular Romance Area Chair, Maryan Wherry,

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

RWA Academic Award-Winners and a CFP

The Romance Writers of America have announced that this year:
Two RWA Academic Research Grants were funded: (1) Kelly Choyke’s project, “The Power of Popular Romance Culture: An Ethnography of Feminism, the Romance Genre, and Womanhood in North America,” and (2) Joanna Gregson and Jennifer Lois’s project, “Shifting Identities and Reimagined Careers: Romance Authors and the Self-Publishing Revolution.”
Kelly, "a teacher at Ohio University and a Ph.D. Candidate in Women’s Studies", last year "approached the RWA/NYC chapter to solicit interviews for her research study, The Power of Popular Romance Culture: An Ethnography of Feminism and the Romance Genres" (Macwilliam).

Gregson and Lois's previous project on romance was covered by the New York Times.

Thanks to jay Dixon for alerting me to the following CFP (details announced here) which isn't about romance novels, but is in a closely related area so I thought I'd post it here:

CFP: The Power of Love 
An area of multiple panels for the 2016 Film & History Conference:
Gods and Heretics: Figures of Power and Subversion in Film and Television
October 26-October 30, 2016
The Milwaukee Hilton
Milwaukee, WI (USA)

When romance is brought to life on film and television, it becomes a public discourse capable of either normalizing or challenging behaviors and activating social criticism. Debates over the shape and form of love on the silver screen have been at the center of film and television history, pointing to its significant cultural power. This area, then, will explore both “the power of love” in screen history and the implications of love in film and television.
Who are we allowed to love, where, when, why, and how? What do these various relationships illustrate about our social worlds? Under what circumstances are characters not allowed to love, and why? What role have entertainment executives and other key figures played in dictating “appropriate” behavior through on-screen loves? By analyzing the patterned representation and censorship of love, film and television scholars can address the important dialectic between what is revealed to us and what is concealed during any historical period, highlighting the critical power of love.

This area invites 20-minute papers or complete panels that explore the varying powers of love. Possibilities include, but are not limited to:

  • Forbidden Love and Unlikely Couples 
  • Censoring Love: The Production Code and Beyond 
  • What’s Love Got to Do With It?: Plot and Narrative
  • From Real to Reel: Biographical Romance
  • The Politics of Teaching Desire 
  • Speaking Love: The Power of Dialogue
  • Bachelors and Bachelorettes: Normalizing Gender Roles in Reality TV
Proposals for complete panels (three related presentations) are also welcome, but they must include an abstract and contact information, including an e-mail address, for each presenter. For updates and registration information about the upcoming meeting, see the Film & History website (

Please e-mail your 200-word proposal by June 1, 2016, to the area chair:

Nicole Amber Haggard
Mount Saint Mary’s University, Los Angeles

Wednesday, March 09, 2016

New to the Wiki: Around the World with Romance

This is a collection of recent items in the media, journal articles and details of two new books on popular romance fiction.
Chandra, Elizabeth, 2015. 
"Blossoming Dahlia: Chinese Women Novelists in Colonial Indonesia", Southeast Asian Studies 4.3: 533-564.
De Vera, Ruel S., 2016. 'The Rise of the Filipino Romance in English', Asiannewsnetwork, 7 March 2016.
Markert, John, 2016. 
Publishing Romance: The History of an Industry, 1940s to the Present. ???: McFarland. Abstract and table of contents
McAlister, Jodi, 2016. 
'Traveling Through Time and Genre: Are the Outlander Books Romance Novels?', Adoring Outlander: Essays on Fandom, Genre and the Female Audience, ed. Valerie Estelle Frankel (Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland), pp. 94-105. Excerpt
Page, Thomas, 2016. 'Beyond heartache and Boko Haram: Nigerian women prove love is universal', CNN, 16 February 2016.
Roach, Catherine M., 2016. 
Happily Ever After: The Romance Story in Popular Culture (Bloomington, Indiana: Indiana University Press).Excerpt

Thursday, March 03, 2016

Call for Papers: Romance in the Zombie Genre

Romancing the Zombie: Falling in Love with the Undead in the 21st Century

Ashley Szanter, Weber State University
Jessica K. Richards, Weber State University

Project Overview:

Editors Szanter and Richards seek original essays for an edited collection on romance in the zombie genre. This collection is under contract with McFarland Publishers. The 21st century has seen a greater willingness to portray the undead as possible candidates for sexual and romantic partnership as well as engaging with overarching themes of romance and relationships in apocalyptic settings. Romance is a generally neglected corner of zombie scholarship largely because of its implied necrophilia. However, it is flourishing in films, literature, and television shows that explore romantic relationships with corpses in various states of decay. This collection will explore this generation’s relatively new tendency to sexualize zombies as attractive and alluring.

Abstract Due Dates:

Preference will be given to abstracts received before May 15, 2016. Abstracts should be no longer than 350 words and be accompanied by a current CV.

Final manuscripts of 6,000-8,000 words should be submitted in MLA style by September 15, 2016.

More details here.