In August, 2010, thirty-one scholars from four continents gathered in Brussels for the second annual International Conference on Popular Romance Studies sponsored by the International Association for the Study of Popular Romance. (The third was held in New York City June, 2011; a call for papers is out for the fourth, to be held in York University, UK, in September 2012.)
These annual gatherings do more than simply provide a venue for the best new work on romantic love in global popular media. They also challenge scholars of film, fiction, TV, marketing, and other media to learn from one another across the great divides of historical period, national tradition, and academic discipline—borrowing terms and conceptual models, refining distinctions, discovering what new ground has been broken, and how much still remains to be done.
In addition to two new full-length essays (by Roger Nicholson, on the New Zealand film River Queen, and Federica Balducci, on Italian chick lit and romanzo rosa) and four new book reviews, this issue of the Journal of Popular Romance Studies presents our first gathering of IASPR Conference Proceedings: six selectively chosen and peer-reviewed presentations, along with keynote addresses by the Spanish film professor Celestino Deleyto, the British literary scholar and theorist Lynne Pearce, and the American literary historian Pamela Regis, this last with a response from our Belgian conference chair, An Goris.
The talks selected by our guest editors, IASPR president Sarah S. G. Frantz and conference chair An Goris, reflect the diversity of the conference—and of our emerging field. They trace, for example, the earliest, awkward attempts to mass-market romance fiction to American women in late nineteenth-century “story papers”; they explore the sexual politics of twenty-first century Greek romantic comedies, which put a national spin on Hollywood conventions; they anatomize male virginity in heterosexual romance novels, distinguishing it from the representation of male virginity in other media, and more.
Our keynote addresses theorize the vexed motif of repetition in romantic love, reverse-engineer the construction of a “comic space” at the heart of the romcom, and analyze the shifting critical rhetoric surrounding popular romance fiction from the early 1980s to the present.
This special forum of Conference Proceedings is the first of several special gatherings of essays we will feature in JPRS. Calls for Papers are currently available on “Animals in / and Romance” (submissions due Dec. 1, 2011), “Georgette Heyer” (due May 4, 2012, forum guest edited by Phyllis M. Betz), and “Love and Religion in Global Popular Culture” (due June 1, 2012, forum edited by Lynn S. Neal). Details for each can be found on our Submissions page.
As always, we look forward to your comments on all our essays, and if they prove helpful to you in your own research or teaching, please let us know!