rwa samhain depaul

About the Conference

For decades, scholars have studied representations of romantic love in popular media: novels, films, magazines, comics, advertisements, and elsewhere. They have studied its sexual politics and aesthetic structures, its audiences, its authors, and the industry that produces and distributes it world-wide. For the most part, however, they have done so in isolation, divided by boundaries of nation, genre, and academic discipline. The inaugural conference of IASPR, the new International Association for the Study of Popular Romance brought these scholars together using the framework of “Popular Romance Studies.”

The 2009 conference was held in conjunction with the annual meeting of the Romance Writers of Australia, and sponsored by Depaul University, the Romance Writers of America, and Samhain Publishing. Scholars from Australia, the United States, Korea, Indonesia, India, and elsewhere convened for this event. The conference featured presentations on romance websites in China, Japanese romance manga, Italian romanzo rosa, and the novels of Jane Austen and Georgette Heyer.


Conference Presentations

Special Events:

  • Tour of the Flesch Collection of Australian Romance Fiction in the Fryer Library
    Juliet Flesch, University of Melbourne and Toni Johnson-Woods, AustLit Popular Fictions Project
  • Roundtable Discussion: “Popular Romance Studies: Past, Present, Future”
    Sarah S. G. Frantz, Fayetteville State University / President, IASPR
    Kelley Hunter, President, Romance Writers of Australia Alison Ahearn, Romance Author, Romance Writers of Australia
    Toni Johnson-Woods, University of Queensland, Australia
    Juliet Flesch, University of Melbourne, Australia
    Laurie Kahn, Documentary Filmmaker, Brandeis University, USA


Local Traditions, Transnational Encounters

  • “Emma Darcy in Manga: a Curious Publishing Phenomenon”
    Toni Johnson-Woods, University of Queensland, Australia
  • “Indonesian Women’s Response to Popular Romance”
    Ida Rochani Adi, Universitas Gadjah Mada, Indonesia
  • “When Chick-Lit Meets Romanzo Rosa: Intertextual and Transnational Narratives in Italian Romance Fiction”
    Federica Balducci, Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand
  • “The Undefined Love: Bengali Women from Page to Stage to Webpage”
    Devaleena Das, University of Calcutta, and Pushkar Raj, Independent Scholar, India


Is There a Genre in this Text? Romance Across Media and Literary Genre

  • “‘There were three of us in this biography, so it was a bit crowded’: The Biographer as Royal Suitor in Andrew Morton’s Diana: Her True Story.”
    Giselle Bastin, Flinders University, Australia
  • “Rewritten Romances and Lost Voices: Recent TV Adaptations of Popular Girls’ Comics and Woman-Authored Romances in South Korea”
    Im Chung-in, Sungkyunkwan University, South Korea
  • “And so the Lion Fell in Love with the Lamb: Acts of Inversion in the Young Adult Vampire Romance”
    Margot McGovern, Flinders University, Australia
  • “Is Modern Fan Fiction Killing Classical Romances?”
    Enid Wilson, Romance Author, Australia


The He and the She of It: Gender, Sexuality, Love

  • “’Deliciously contrary’: Reimagining Medieval Women’s Agency in Australian Popular Romance”
    Kim Wilkins, University of Queensland, Australia
  • “The Hero in the Napoleonic Wartime Romance”
    Sarah Ailwood, University of Canberra, Australia
  • “Romance, Masochistic Desire and Vampiric Subject-Formation in the Twilight Novels”
    Anthea Taylor, University of Queensland, Australia
  • “The Heart of the Matter: Representations of Love in Romantic Fiction”
    Bronwyn Clarke, University of New England, Australia, and Romance Author


Aphrodite’s Architects: Constructing the Book, the Author, the Reader

  • “Exploration of the ‘Barrier’ Element in Six Harlequin / M&B Sweet Novels from November 2008”
    Therese Dryden, Romance Author, Australia
  • “A First Kiss is Still A First Kiss: Ageism, Romance Heroines, and the Mid-Life Romance Reader”
    Sandra Barletta, Independent Scholar, Australia
  • “From Reader to Writer”
    Glen Thomas, Queensland University of Technology, Australia


Romancing History / Historicizing Romance

  • “Historicizing The Sheik: Comparisons of the British novel and the American Film”
    Hsu-Ming Teo, Macquarie University, Australia
  • “Georgette Heyer and the Evolution of Historical Romance”
    Jennifer Kloester, Biographer, Australia
  • “Between Women: Heterosexual Historical Romance and the Cultural Work of Genre”
    Lisa Fletcher, University of Tasmania, Australia


In Respect of Romance, and of Romance Readers

  • “Attitudes of Victorian Public Librarians towards Romance Readers”
    Juliet Flesch, University of Melbourne, Australia
  • “Web-based Chinese Matriarchal Popular Romances”
    Jin Feng, Grinnell College, USA
  • “Extracurricular Literacies: Pedagogy and Popular Romance”
    Stephanie Moody, University of Michigan, USA
  • “How to Teach a Romance Novel (And Learn from One, Too)”
    Eric Murphy Selinger, DePaul University, USA