With a heavy heart, IASPR is announcing that due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Eighth International Conference on Popular Romance Studies will not take place this summer. Given the uncertainty of international travel in the short term and the exigencies of academic schedules in the fall and winter, our plan is to postpone the conference until the summer of 2021, with the University of La Palmas Gran Canaria (ULPGC) remaining our host.
All papers and posters accepted for the 2020 conference will remain accepted for 2021. We hope you will be able to join us. We will also reopen the CFP in order to accommodate participants whose research evolves in the interim, rendering their original proposals out of date, and to reach out to scholars who were unable to participate this year. We will be in touch later in the year so there is no need to let us know your intentions at this stage.
If you are in receipt of a travel grant this will be honored for the 2021 conference, providing: 1) you attend IASPR-21 and; 2) your paper proposal remains substantially similar or, if changed, still fits the conference theme.
Although we cannot meet in person this summer, it is possible that IASPR / JPRS could host some kind of digital showcase this summer or fall: not an online conference, but perhaps some kind of webinar or twitter session, an online presentation of posters at the IASPR website, or some other way to circulate research and exchange ideas.
Our decision about whether to pursue this option will depend on several variables, including how many of the planned 2020 conference attendees want to participate and how many have the time and expertise to help with the planning and execution. We are currently polling the 2020 conference participants, and will announce any decisions on this when the results are in.
The Journal of Popular Romance Studies, an international peer-reviewed academic journal publishing scholarship on popular romance fiction and on the logics, institutions, and social practices of romantic love in global popular culture, is seeking a new Managing Editor, to begin work no later than September 1, 2020. (A summer start would be ideal, in order to smooth the transition.)
- managing the journal’s main email account
- coordinating the submission, review and publication procedures of papers submitted to the journal
- working closely with the Executive Editor in the daily management and further development of the Journal.
The ideal candidate has a PhD (in any field; late stage doctoral students will also be considered), knows the field of popular romance studies, and/or has an interest in academic publishing. We are looking for someone who is flexible, enthusiastic, and discreet, since the Managing Editor will be in possession of confidential information about the status of manuscripts, the names of peer reviewers, etc.
This is a volunteer position – there is no salary connected to it. However, it affords ample opportunity to develop transferable skills, gain experience in publishing, network with scholars around the world, and contribute to the further institutional and scholarly recognition of the field of popular romance studies.
If you are interested, please send a letter of motivation and a brief CV to Eric Selinger (Executive Editor) and Erin Young (Managing Editor) at email@example.com no later than June 1, 2020. Questions may also be sent to this address.
For over a decade, the Romance Writers of America has been a generous sponsor of IASPR. Every conference we have held has received RWA support, including our upcoming 2020 conference on “Diversity, Inclusion, Innovation” in popular romance culture, and the field of popular romance studies has been seeded and sustained by the RWA Academic Research Grant program.
However, in light of recent events we as a scholarly organization must add our voice to the chorus of readers, reviewers, editors, agents, and authors who have called for sweeping and lasting change at the RWA, beginning with the eight steps listed in the “Readers to RWA” letter from Romance Sparks Joy:
- A clear, unequivocal statement that RWA is anti-racist and that all of its policies, procedures, and activities will ensure that the organization meets this standard.
- A public apology to Ms. Milan, the Board members who have been compelled by their consciences to resign this week, and members who have been harmed by the RWA as stated above.
- The resignations of President/President-Elect Damon Suede and Executive Director Carol Ritter.
- An emergency election of new Directors to replace those who have resigned in protest.
- A full, transparent, and independent investigation into the complaint, investigation, and censure processes around RWA’s Code of Ethics, with attention to events related to the complaints against Ms. Milan and reports that ethics complaints by marginalized members were not forwarded to the Ethics Committee by RWA staff.
- An accounting of the actions that led to the creation of a secret ethics committee and the Board’s initial vote against Ms. Milan.
- The removal of staff if investigations demonstrate those staff members discriminated against marginalized authors based on their identities, whether intentionally or through negligence.
- An Action Plan developed with public input to address the systematic exclusion, harassment, and lack of support for marginalized members and prospective members at every level of RWA, including chapters, conferences and events, staff prerogatives, and Board action.
In keeping with that letter’s call for a “boycott of any events sponsored by or affiliated with the national chapter of RWA,” and in order to forestall any use of our conference to whitewash problems with diversity and inclusion at RWA itself, we will budget for, plan, and, if necessary, hold our 2020 conference this summer without using the financial support that RWA has provided for it. We will reallocate resources and seek out other funding in order to minimize the impact of this decision on travel support for graduate students, untenured faculty, and independent scholars.
We do not flatter ourselves that IASPR, our conferences, and our affiliate publication, the Journal of Popular Romance Studies are somehow free from racism, exclusion, and inequity, or that we will always succeed in addressing them. We do, however, hope to respond to our failures by keeping in mind the advice that Prof. Jay Thalang gives his graduate students—and, ultimately, takes to heart—in Courtney Milan’s Hold Me:
“If you can’t get over your ego and just talk about what you did and what happened, this will take four times as long. You failed. Get used to it. Some of the biggest scientific breakthroughs came about because someone failed and figured out why. Don’t worry about failing. Worry about failing wrongly.”
So far in this matter RWA has not just failed, but failed wrongly. We ask for better from them, and will try to do better ourselves. We hope all organizations, including RWA, are able to embrace policy and practice that sees and represents all of their talent.
The Eighth International Conference on Popular Romance Studies
Diversity, Inclusion, Innovation
University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria Canary Islands | June 17-19, 2020
Proposal Deadline: October 20, 2019
Whose love matters in popular romance culture? Who is represented as capable of love, or worthy of it? How do popular romance media—books, films, TV, web series, popular music, comics, etc.—promote and/or resist (neo) imperialism, (neo) colonialism, white supremacy, ethno-nationalism, ableism, and compulsory heterosexuality? How do innovations in publishing and media creation and/or distribution help to diversify popular romance, making it more inclusive, and what innovations are needed in popular romance studies to bring this diversity—or its continuing absence—into our critical discourse?
Celebrating the start of its second decade, the International Association for the Study of Popular Romance calls for papers and posters on the popular culture of romantic love, now and in the past, from anywhere in the world.
Popular Romance Studies is an interdisciplinary field including scholars from literary studies; film, television, and media studies; communication and the social sciences; critical race, feminist, queer and disability studies; audience & fan studies, etc. All theoretical and empirical approaches are welcome, including talks, panels, and workshops on professional development, international collaboration, and pedagogy. Content creators, writers, and professionals from various romance industries are invited to submit proposals as well.
We are open to proposals on any relevant text or topic. This year we are particularly interested in papers, posters, panels, and workshops focused on issues related to diversity, inclusion, and innovation. Possible topics might include:
- Social justice themes and efforts at broadening popular romance media, including issues related to race, sexuality, gender, class, disability, age, religion, etc.
- Love and romance in the context of mass migration and displacement.
- Popular romance in colonial and post-colonial contexts.
- Romance beyond the Anglosphere: traditions, texts, translations (literal and metaphorical).
- Changes in romance genres and innovations in popular romance creation, marketing, and sales.
- Resistance to change in popular romance.
- Popular romance media communities and controversies.
- Panels on individual authors/creators and individual texts (books, series, films, shows, etc.)
Submit abstracts of 250-350 words (plus bibliography of 3-5 items, if appropriate) to firstname.lastname@example.org by October 20, 2019. Please specify whether you are proposing a paper, workshop, or poster. Panel submissions (3-4 related papers) are welcome.
Thanks to the generosity of Kathleen Gilles Seidel, a limited number of Seidel Travel Support grants will be awarded to non-tenured presenters, including graduate students and junior scholars. Information about travel support applications will be sent out with acceptance notifications.
Special Issue Call for Papers: Sexting, Romance, and Intimacy
Deadline for Abstracts Extended to December 1, 2019!
Eds. Eftihia Mihelakis and Jonathan A. Allan
It is a truth universally acknowledged that a person in possession of a cell phone will sext. One study notes that, “of 870 U.S. adults aged 18-72 … 88% had sexted in their lifetime.” This special call for papers seeks to explore the ways that sexting has affected our ideas of romance and intimacy. How has sexting influenced the popular romance novel, the chick flick, or the soap opera? How has sexting changed how we think about romance and love? We welcome papers that engage with these topics, and encourage interdisciplinary approaches.
This special call for papers understands sexting quite broadly, ranging from the flirtatious email sent to a partner at home through to the unsolicited dick pic sent over Tinder.
For the special issue, we welcome proposals for original research articles (5000-10,000 words) that explore sexting, romance, and intimacy. Topics may include:
- Sexting and gender
- Sexting and courtship, dating, marriage, etc.
- Sexting and virginity or “sexual inexperience”
- Sexting and scandal
- Technology, sexting, and romance media (movies, films, TV, music videos, memes, etc.)
- Pornification and romance
- Romance and the virtual landscape
The deadline for 250-word abstracts is December 1, 2019 with full drafts due by March 1, 2020. Please send abstracts and direct any enquiries to Dr. Eftihia Mihelakis at MihelakisE@brandonu.ca and Dr. Jonathan A. Allan at AllanJ@brandonu.ca.
About the Editors
Dr. Eftihia Mihelakis is Assistant Professor of French. She is the author of Virginité en question, ou les jeunes filles sans âge.
Dr. Jonathan A. Allan is Canada Research Chair in Queer Theory and Professor of English and Creative Writing. He is the author of Reading from Behind: A Cultural Analysis of the Anus and co-editor of Virgin Envy: The Cultural (In)Significance of the Hymen.
Together, Dr. Mihelakis and Dr. Allan are lead investigators on “The Joy of Texting: Mapping the Significance of Sexting in the Digital World,” funded by Research Manitoba.
The International Association for the Study of Popular Romance (IASPR) calls for submissions for the third annual Conseula Francis Award. The Francis Award is given out each year for the best unpublished essay on popular romance media and / or the logics, institutions, and social practices of romantic love in global popular culture. Essays may focus on work in any medium (e.g., fiction, film, TV, music, comics, or advice literature) or on topics related to real-world courtship, dating, relationships, and love. The winning essay will receive a $250 USD cash prize and be published in the peer-reviewed Journal of Popular Romance Studies, pending any needed revision according to the judges’ comments.
The Francis Award is in honor and memory of our colleague Conseula Francis, who was associate provost and professor of English and African American Studies at the College of Charleston. The author of The Critical Reception of James Baldwin: 1963-2010 (2014) and the editor of Conversations with Octavia Butler (2009), Francis studied popular romance fiction with particular attention on African American authors and representations of Black love. Priority for the Francis Award will therefore be given to manuscripts that address the diversity of, and diversities within, popular romance and romantic love culture: e.g., diversity of race, ethnicity, gender, religion, class, sexuality, disability, or age.
The deadline for submissions is December 31, 2018, and the winner will be announced in April, in time for the Popular Culture Association’s national conference.
All submissions should be sent to Erin Young, Managing Editor of the Journal of Popular Romance Studies, at email@example.com. Please put “Francis Award” in your subject line. All submissions must be Microsoft Word documents, with citations in MLA format; in keeping with JPRS publication guidelines we will consider essays of 5000 to ~10,000 words in length. Please remove your name or the name of any co-authors from the submitted manuscript; in your cover-letter email, please provide your contact information (address, phone number, e-mail address) and a 150-200 word abstract of the submission.
The judges for the Francis Award are a mix of established and emerging scholars in the field of Popular Romance Studies, chosen by IASPR. Each year’s winner will be invited to join the panel of judges for the following year.
Thanks to a generous donation from American romance novelist Kathleen Gilles Seidel, travel support for junior scholars will be available for “Think Globally, Love Locally,” the Seventh International Conference on Popular Romance.
This Seidel Travel Grant is intended to foster the future of scholarship on romance in genre fiction, film, TV, and other forms of popular culture by helping with travel costs for graduate students, non-tenured faculty (tenure stream or contingent / adjunct), and independent scholars attending the 2018 IASPR conference in Sydney, Australia.
Eligible scholars whose proposals have been accepted for the conference may apply for the Seidel Travel Grant. Details on how to apply will be included in the proposal acceptance email. All funds will be disbursed by check or cash at the conference.The deadline for proposals is September 15, 2017. The Call for Papers can be found here.
Seidel wrote her first romance novel not long after finishing her Ph.D. in English literature at Johns Hopkins University. In addition to her many acclaimed novels, including the RITA-award winning contemporary romance Again (1995), she is the author of “Judge Me By the Joy I Bring,” the final essay in the 1992 anthology, Dangerous Men, Adventurous Women.
A supporter of IASPR since its inception, Seidel has funded travel grants for graduate students, independent scholars, and untenured faculty presenting on popular romance at the Popular Culture Association national conference and at IASPR’s international gatherings. We are grateful for her generous and continuing support.
Brandon University professor Jonathan A. Allan (Canada Research Chair in Queer Theory) is looking for proposals on men / masculinities in popular romance fiction for the 2018 American Men’s Studies Association conference, which will be held March 22-25 in Minneapolis, MN. The deadline in the CFP is October 15, 2017.
Jonathan was one of the guest editors of the Journal of Popular Romance Studies special issue on Queer/ing Popular Romance, and he is currently at work on a book called Men, Masculinities, and Popular Romance (Routledge).
There’s a lot of work to be done on this topic, not least because the romance archive includes masculinities that range from the hyper-hegemonic to the quietly or radically disruptive, and the Call for Papers makes it clear that the conference is open to an equally wide range of topics. Their bullet point list includes:
- Queering masculinities, sexualities, bodies
- Transgender studies and men’s studies
- Men and/or masculinities in BDSM and leather cultures
- Masculinities and sexualities (i.e. heterosexual, gay, bisexual, pansexual, etc.)
- Effeminophobia in/and theories of masculinity
- Fantasies and desires in/through bodies and masculinities
- The material, phenomenological, and real body
- Pharmaceutical and medical interventions on the body
- Masculinities without men, men without masculinities
- Men, bodies, and digital technologies
- Aging, youth, and sexualities across the life-span
If you’re interested in pursuing this, please get in touch with Jonathan, or with me (Eric Selinger, IASPR president) before the October 15 deadline.
The intersection of popular romance studies and men’s / masculinity studies is a very promising development in our field. There is work, wild work, to be done!
The Seventh International Conference on Popular Romance, “Think Globally, Love Locally,” is proud to announce Keynote Speakers for our June, 2018 conference:
Along with their outstanding individual contributions to the theory, history, and practice (for Wilkins) of popular fiction, our speakers are also three of the four Chief Investigators on the Australian Research Council Discovery Project “Genre Worlds: Australian Popular Fiction in the Twenty-First Century,” a systematic examination of 21st-century Australian popular fiction, the most significant growth area in Australian trade publishing since the turn of the century.
In 2015, “Genre Worlds” also received grant funding from the Romance Writers of America to develop case studies of authors at different stages in their careers, exploring the creative processes whereby works of genre fiction are created, published, and marketed.
The conference CFP can be found here, with a deadline of September 15, 2017.
News about travel support is coming—stay tuned!