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Editor’s Note: Issue 5.2

Just over a year ago, the Journal of Popular Romance Studies was approached by an academic publisher interested in adding us to their stable of scholarly journals. This inquiry sparked a conflicted discussion here at JPRS. Should we shift to a more traditional publishing format and subscription model? Would this attract more submissions, raise our profile, our ranking, our impact level? Would affiliation with a publisher give more credibility, not just to us, but to the field of popular romance studies more generally? How could we retain our commitment to Open Access publishing and to scholarly outreach across both national and professional boundaries? Would we have the flexibility to float new special issue Calls for Papers whenever a topic seized us—and, when needed, the ability to fold a proposed special issue silently into the regular run of the journal?

Emails flew. Scholars were Skyped. Advisory boards got advisory (and sometime adversarial). A web of debate linked Virginia to Tasmania, New York City to New South Wales, Manitoba to Brunei.  It was heady stuff: a reminder of how far-flung we are, as a field, but also how fragile, how new.

In the end, our collective sense is that scholarship in popular romance studies needs to be more accessible, not less. With budgets cut around the world, especially in the Humanities, new subscriptions can be a hard sell to university libraries, especially on emerging topics like popular romance.  Graduate students, independent scholars, and contingent faculty find it difficult to afford the Open Access fees, often in the hundreds of dollars, that some traditional journals now ask. (A message just landed in my inbox explaining that $400 was a perfectly reasonable “processing charge” for an aspiring scholarly author—or their department—to kick in for an essay.) Likewise, even as more and more dissertations are being written in popular romance studies—the list at the Romance Scholarship Wiki is a good place to keep up to date with these, as with new essays and monographs—much of the most interesting thinking and debate goes on in blogs and review sites and Tumblr and Twitter. What we do as a peer reviewed journal is different in genre from what goes on in these venues, but we want our essays, interviews, book reviews, and pedagogical pieces to be a part of that free-ranging, and free, discussion, not tucked away behind what is, effectively, a paywall. [End Page 1]

With help from the International Association for the Study of Popular Romance, we will, therefore, continue to be a self-published journal: available without charge to readers and to our contributors. Your membership in IASPR will help to support us, but so too will your simple act of reading these pieces and talking about them, whether in your own new scholarship, in a classroom setting, or in private conversation. Indeed, after this issue, we will begin publishing on a rolling basis throughout the year, with new material appearing online as it is ready: a shift that takes advantage of our online-only status, and which we hope will keep the study of popular romance media in both the academic and the public eye.  (It will certainly help us avoid the backlogs that bedevil scholars eager to see their work reach an audience!)

As you will see from the Table of Contents, issue 5.2 of JPRS is an expansive gathering of new scholarship and commentary on popular romance fiction and the logics, institutions, and social practices of romantic love in global popular culture.  We have a groundbreaking special issue on Queering Popular Romance guest edited by Jonathan A. Allan and Andrea Wood:  five essays that address this crucial topic in fiction, film, and TV, from a variety of theoretical approaches, along with a substantive guest editors’ introduction. We have a study of early 20th-century eugenic love theory (and practice) in the United States, new pieces on Twilight and on Viking romance, and a capacious review section that covers not only books, this time—new monographs and collections on love, masculinity, romance fiction, desert romance, and “bromance” in film, a bumper crop!—but also the award-winning documentary film on popular romance fiction authors, readers, and publishing: Laurie Kahn’s Love Between the Covers. (Disclaimer: I was a scholarly advisor to the film, and curated the resource guide that accompanies it for classroom and community use; other members of the JPRS editorial board were also interviewed for the film. It’s a small world, popular romance studies—hence our turn to an Australian media scholar as a reviewer.)

In the coming weeks and months IASPR / JPRS will announce a number of new initiatives, including an essay prize in memory of our colleague Conseula Francis, whose essay on Zane as a romance novelist appears in the major new anthology Romance Fiction and American Culture: Love as the Practice of Freedom? and whose interview with Joanna Russ was featured in issue 1.2 of JPRS. To stay up to date on this and other announcements, and to learn about our new pieces as they appear, please follow us on Twitter (@JPRStudies), follow our sponsoring organization (@IASPR), join the IASPR group on Facebook or the RomanceScholar listserv, and keep an eye on the IASPR homepage, where we will soon announce the venue (*cough* Sydney *cough*) and the timing for the Seventh International Conference on Popular Romance. [End Page 2]

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Special Issue: Queering Popular Romance (Editors’ Introduction)
by Andrea Wood and Jonathan A. Allan

In 1997, Kay Mussell called upon scholars of popular romance “to incorporate analysis of lesbian and gay romances into our mostly heterosexual models” (12). Today, closing in on two decades later, that challenge has yet to be met (beyond a few examples here and there). Although print and digital venues for LGBTQ romance have proliferated, meeting a growing demand for such work among readers (especially for male / male romances), and although there is a burgeoning interest in writing LGBTQ romance on the part of both LGBTQ and straight authors, queer romance fiction remains peripheral to most academic accounts of the genre. Likewise, with a handful of exceptions,[1] scholarship on popular romance fiction has scarcely begun to engage the theoretical paradigms that have become central to gay and lesbian studies, to queer theory, and to the study of queer love in other media (film, TV, pop music, marriage equality campaigns, etc.).

Recognizing that there are both similarities and tensions between “queer theory” and “lesbian and gay criticism,” this special issue seeks to address not only the importance of identity politics to popular romance fiction—that is, romance novels with LGBTQ protagonists—but also texts which give “queer” readings of ostensibly heterosexual romances, as well as those which are theoretically engaged with the fluid concept of “queerness,” no matter the bodies and / or sexualities of the protagonists involved. In approaching the concept of “queering popular romance” we construe the term “queer” broadly, aligning ourselves with Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick’s famous assertion that “one of the things that ’queer’ can refer to” is “the open mesh of possibilities, gaps, overlaps, dissonances and resonances, lapses and excesses of meaning when the constituent elements of anyone’s gender, of anyone’s sexuality aren’t made (or can’t be made) to signify monolithically” (8). This special issue aims to open a dialogue about queer(ing) popular romance that we hope will be the beginning of a longer and ongoing conversation as the genre continues to evolve and expand in new and complex ways to meet the increasingly diverse nature of the readership and its fluid desires.

Lynne Pearce’s “Love’s ‘Schema and Correction’: A Queer Twist on a General Principle,” opens our issue and builds on her previous meditations on the function of repetition in the love-relationships depicted in romance fiction to explore “how, certain love-relationships present themselves as so definitive as to be non-repeatable in the first [End Page 1] place.” Pearce draws on art historian E.H. Gombrich’s modelling of perception and consciousness to analyze cognitive processes of attraction and enduring romantic attachment even after the loss of the love object. Using Annie Proulx’s short-story, “Brokeback Mountain” (2002 [1989]) and Ang Lee’s award-winning film based on the text (2005), Pearce considers the function of “textual plots and subplots from a broad cross-section of literature where bereaved or abandoned lovers refuse recuperation and trouble the text’s happy ending.” In her analysis, Pearce demonstrates how we need to complicate our considerations of affect that seems abnormal or “queer”—such as Ennis’s inability to overcome the emotional loss of his long-time lover Jack—while taking into consideration complex historical and heteronormative contexts that create dissonance between “ideal” and permissible love objects in ways that trouble cognitive processes for matching one’s schema to the actual love object, especially when it is non-normative.

Jodi McAlister’s “You and I are humans, and there is something complicated between us’: Untamed and queering the heterosexual romance” explores Anna Cowan’s Untamed, one of the most discussed and reviewed historical romance releases of 2013. A polarizing and unusual text, particularly due to its hero (a bisexual cross-dressing duke who passes as a woman for more than half the book), it is one that McAlister argues does adhere to the structure and many of the tropes of a typical heterosexual historical romance, yet it is also recognizably queer. To further interrogate the queerness of fluidity in Untamed, McAlister reads it alongside Georgette Heyer’s The Masqueraders, which also features a cross-dressing hero—something of a rarity in the romance genre, which has more commonly featured cross-dressing female protagonists. Drawing on David Halperin’s understanding of “queer,” McAlister explores how Untamed’s approaches to gender, social roles, and history, contribute to the book’s broader exploration of fluidity.

Jami McFarland’s “Resuscitating the Undead Queer in Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight Saga” aims to complicate notions of queerness–both common and uncommon representations of queerness—in the context of an ostensibly popular heterosexual paranormal romance series. McFarland traces a history of queerness within the vampire genre to locate Meyer’s conceptualization of the vampire within this practice. Aligning vampirism with queerness, McFarland explores the often homosocial and homoerotic histories of the vampire figure. Claiming that Meyer’s heteronormative or, perhaps more appropriately, homonormative vampire largely deviates from a tradition of associating the vampire with the Queer (position), McFarland demonstrate how the construction of Edward Cullen still feeds on the popularly imagined construction of queerness. Ultimately, McFarland argues that Meyer’s hetero-romantic Twilight series can be regarded as participating in the century-old tradition of associating the vampire figure with queer identities and ways of being.

Moving from romance fiction and into the realm of television, Sunnie Rothenburger’s “Piratical Pleasures: Female Dominance and Children’s Literature as Romance in ABC’s Once Upon a Time,” considers how the show queers female sexuality. For Rothenburger, Once Upon a Time combines children’s literature with popular romance in a way that opens up some of the problematic and oft critiqued conventions of the latter by depicting sadistic and dominating aspects of female desire rather than masochistic ones. Rothenburger claims that the protagonist, Emma Swan, is in many ways both child and adult; in her sexual attraction to Captain Hook she is subversively “queer” and a “lost girl,” less the inexperienced heroine of conventional romance than an aggressive princess who loves to [End Page 2] tie up and torment her pirate. For Rothenburger, the series invites a re-consideration of childhood narratives’ contributions to discourses of sexuality, and of how gender might be re-conceived when the demarcation between an individual’s childhood and adulthood is troubled.

Taking a more pessimistic view of mainstream television programming’s representation of gay romance, Bridget Kies’s “First Comes Love, Then Comes Marriage: (Homo)Normalizing Romance in American Television” examines what has been lost in recent depictions of gay couples in mainstream programming. Although gay romance storylines have become increasingly popular, as seen in contemporary series with gay romance elements like Modern Family and Glee, these depictions has largely reified one representation of acceptable gay identity. Specifically, Kies argues that the success of gay romance on television today is a result of homonormativity, a political position favoring conformity to certain normative social values. Because of romance’s emphasis on betrothal and happy endings, same-sex romance necessarily becomes homonormative; gay couples on television look and sound like their straight counterparts. By favoring marriage and parenthood as ultimate life goals, and by depicting white, middle- and upper-class men, gay romance on mainstream television has succeeded in winning over audiences. However, this mainstream appeal comes at the expense of relative invisibility for other queer identities and lifestyles.

As editors, we hope that this collection of essays begins to respond to Kay Mussell’s exhortation, and we call in turn for scholars working in queer theory, popular romance studies, gender studies, and beyond to begin to consider the proliferation of queer popular romance texts. Although a great deal of work remains to be done on queer/ing popular romance media—too many voices and experiences remain unheard and unread—it is also true that genre has explored and continues to explore the multiplicities of gender and sexuality, to challenge the bonds of love, and to think creatively and limitlessly about the potential of romance. Across multiple media, popular romance texts raise questions about the possibilities of love, sex, desire, gender, and so on. Rich in critical potential, this archive can and should contribute to fields of inquiry where the popular romance has, for too long, remained absent or as a mere stereotype.


[1] At the close of this article, we provide a supplemental bibliography of recent publications that have attended to the popular romance and queer studies. [End Page 3]

Works Cited

Mussell, Kay. “Where’s Love Gone? Transformations in Romance Fiction and Scholarship.” Paradoxa 3, nos. 1-2 (1997): 3-14.

Sedgwick, Eve Kosofsky. Tendencies. Durham: Duke UP, 1993.

Supplemental Bibliography: Queer/ing the Popular Romance

As Editors, we do not intend for this list to be definitive, but rather to provide readers with a series of sources that attend to queer theory and/or LGBT Studies.

* * * * *

Allan, Jonathan A. “Topping from the Bottom: Anne Tenino’s Frat Boy and Toppy.” Reading from Behind: A Cultural Analysis of the Anus. Regina: U of Regina P, 2016: 63-80.

Barot, Len. “Queer Romance in Twentieth- and Twenty-First Century America: Snapshots of a Revolution.” Romance Fiction and American Culture: Love as the Practice of Freedom? Ashgate, 2016: 389-404.

Burley, Stephanie. “What’s a Nice Girl like You Doing in a Book like This? Homoerotic Reading and Popular Romance.” Doubled Plots: Romance and History. Eds. Susan Strehle and Mary Paniccia Carden. Jackson: UP Mississippi, 2003: 127-146.

Fletcher, Lisa. Historical Romance Fiction: Heterosexuality and Perfomativity. Ashgate Publishing, 2008.

Frantz, Sarah S. G. “‘How we love is our soul: Joey W. Hill’s BDSM Romance Holding the Cards.” New Approaches to Popular Romance Fiction: Critical Essays. Eds. Sarah S. G. Frantz and Eric Murphy Selinger. Jefferson, NC: McFarland P, 2012. 47-59.

Garber, Linda. “Claiming Lesbian History: The Romance Between Fact and Fiction,” in Journal of Lesbian Studies 19 (2015): 129-149.

Herendeen, Ann. “Having it Both Ways; or, Writing From the Third Perspective: The Revolutionary M/M/F Ménage Romance Novel.” Romance Fiction and American Culture: Love as the Practice of Freedom? Ashgate, 2016: 405-420.

Hermes, Joke. “Sexuality in Lesbian Romance Fiction.” Feminist Review 42 (1992): 49-66.

Illouz, Eva. Hard-Core Romance: Fifty Shades of Grey, Best-Sellers, and Society. Chicago: U of Chicago, 2014.

Juhasz, Suzanne. “Lesbian Romance Fiction and the Plotting of Desire: Narrative Theory, Lesbian Identity, and Reading Practice.” Tulsa Studies in Women’s Literature 17.1 (1998): 65-82.

Kamblé, Jayashree. “Heterosexuality: Negotiating Normative Romance Novel Desire.” Making Meaning in Popular Romance Fiction: An Epistemology. New York: Palgrave MacMillan, 2014. 87-130.

Lynch, Katherine E., Ruth E. Sternglantz, and Len Barot. “Queering the Romantic Heroine: Where Her Power Lies.” Journal of Popular Romance Studies 3.1 (2012).

Matelski, Elizabeth. “I’m Not The Only Lesbian Who Wears a Skirt”” Lesbian Romance Fiction and Identity in Post-World War II America.” Romance Fiction and American Culture: Love as the Practice of Freedom? Ashgate, 2016: 57-70.

[End Page 4]

Therrien, Kathleen. “Straight to the Edges: Gay and Lesbian Characters and Cultural Conflict in Popular Romance Fiction.” New Approaches to Popular Romance Fiction: Critical Essays. Eds. Sarah S. G. Frantz and Eric Murphy Selinger. Jefferson, NC: McFarland P, 2012. 164-77.

Veldman-Genz, Carole. “The More the Merrier? Transformations of the Love Triangle Across the Romance.” New Approaches to Popular Romance Fiction: Critical Essays. Eds. Sarah S. G. Frantz and Eric Murphy Selinger. Jefferson, NC: McFarland P, 2012. 108-20.

Veldman-Genz, Carole. “Selling Gay Sex to Women: The Romance of M/M and M/M/F Romantica.” Women and Erotic Fiction: Critical Essays on Genres, Markets and Readers. Ed. Kristen Phillips. McFarland, 2015. 133-149.

Wood, Andrea. “Making the Invisible Visible: Lesbian Romance Comics for Women,” Feminist Studies. 41.2 (2015): 293-334.

Wood, Andrea. “Boys’ Love Anime and Queer Desires in Convergence Culture: Transnational Fandom, Censorship, and Resistance,” Journal of Graphic Novels and Comics. 4.1 (2013): 44-63.

Wood, Andrea. “Choose your own Queer Erotic Adventure: Young Adults, Boys’ Love Computer Games, and the Sexual Politics of Visual Play.” Over the Rainbow: Queer Children’s Literature. Eds. Michelle A. Abate and Kenneth Kidd. Ann Arbor, MI: U of Michigan P, 2011. 354-377.

Wood, Andrea. “‘Straight’ Women, Queer Texts: Boy-Love Manga and the Rise of a Global Counterpublic.” Women’s Studies Quarterly 34.1/2 (2006): 394-414.

[End Page 5]

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Editor’s Note: Issue 5.1

The Journal of Popular Romance Studies started publishing almost exactly five years ago: August 4, 2010, by the date-stamp on the Editor’s Note for Issue 1.1. That note announced, a little grandly, that we were going to be a “peer-reviewed on-line journal dedicated to scholarship on the representation of romantic love in popular media, now and in the past, from anywhere in the world,” and that we would “build a community that includes academics, independent scholars, industry professionals, and serious general readers.” To build that broad community we made JPRS an open-access journal, free to read and download, and we invited comments on all of our articles, hoping to stir up the kinds of discussions we admired on listservs and romance review / discussion websites.

The comment feature didn’t last long. Our mission statement, too, has been revised and professionalized, with an added emphasis on making JPRS a home for scholarship on teaching and learning the popular culture of romantic love. (A crisp new “About the Journal” description can be found at our home page.) Yet, as a glance at the table of contents for issue 5.1 suggests, our commitments to internationalism and interdisciplinarity have only deepened over the years, and we remain dedicated to bringing the voices of scholars and creative professionals into productive conversation.

In this issue, Jyoti Raghu’s essay on the “religion of love in American film” sits comfortably beside Helene Ehriander’s analysis of Swedish “chick-lit in corsets” and Karin Heiss’s account of teaching British Regency and desert romance at Friedrich-Alexander University Erlangen-Nürnberg in Bavaria, Germany. In “Love in the Desert” historian Stacy Holden offers an analysis of the ways that American romance authors talk about writing sheikh romances in a post-9/11 context—an analysis to which Holden invited novelist Megan Crane to offer an “Author’s Response.” (The lines between scholar and creative practitioner are sometimes fuzzy in the romance world; Crane has, we note, a Ph.D. in literature of her own.) The voice of the romance author can also be heard in a lively interview with award-winning American romance author Susan Elizabeth Phillips, a follow-up to Lisa Fletcher’s interview with Anne Gracie in JPRS 4.2 and the Rita Dandridge interview with Beverly Jenkins in our inaugural issue, five years ago.

Two years ago, our Book Review editor announced that we would be taking “a new, more expansive approach to the book review section here at JPRS,” and we are delighted to [End Page 1] offer a particularly robust set of reviews and review-essays in this new issue. Our reviewers discuss books on Indian film, critical love studies, modernist literary history, and feminist / queer theoretical accounts of “the erotic, sexuality, and objectification,” all of which should offer new methodologies and approaches to scholars of popular romance in any medium.

Issue 5.1 also contains our Special Issue on Romancing the Library, guest edited by Crystal Goldman, an Associate Librarian at the University of California-San Diego. As Goldman explains in her Editor’s Note, this gathering of essays builds on and brings to print some of the conversations about library science and popular romance studies—conversations related both to academic library collection development and to the representation of popular romance in public library contexts—which have played out over the last six years at conferences hosted by the Popular Culture Association and by IASPR, the International Association for the Study of Popular Romance. Anyone interested in the reception, representation, and archival preservation of popular romance will find material of interest in these three essays, and we hope they will spur new research and publication on the topic.

Five years ago, JPRS was a shoestring operation—even, at times, a one-man show. Today, the masthead staff of the journal includes rising and established scholars from five countries and three continents, and our latest special issue Call for Papers, on Critical Love Studies, marks an exciting collaboration between our Book Review Editor, Amy Burge, and Michael Gratzke, founder of the Love Research Network and a member of the JPRS Editorial Board. Several books have been published including work that was originally published in JPRS, notably Hsu-Ming Teo’s Desert Passions: Orientalism and Romance Novels and Jin Feng’s Romancing the Internet: Producing and Consuming Chinese Web Romance, and another will be coming out next spring, Happily Ever After: the Romance Story in Popular Culture by Catherine M. Roach, an early portion of which was featured in our very first issue. We are delighted to see JPRS mentioned in academic and journalistic discussions of popular romance—and, to be honest, even when we are not mentioned by name, we are happy to see that the topics and approaches featured in JPRS are slowly but surely reshaping the public discussion of popular romance. In turn, we hope that we continue to learn from the sophistication and expertise of discussions that take place in the wider romance community: the many authors, editors, publishers, reviewers, librarians, and scholars who share their knowledge and insight on blogs and through social media. We follow many of these voices on Twitter, where you can follow us, in turn, as @jprstudies. We hope that you will stay in touch, and if you have suggestions for new interview subjects, books to review, or topics for special issues, please let us know. [End Page 2]

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Special Issue: Romancing the Library (Editor’s Introduction)
by Crystal Goldman

Popular romance collections in libraries of all kinds—public, academic, and special—have faced their fair share of controversies. These can be as simple as whether or not a particular title is owned by the library, public or patron reactions to that title, and librarian responses to those reactions. Romance novels in libraries are often in high demand with readers and are therefore highly circulated items; nevertheless, the sexual content in romance can also invoke calls for these same popular items to be banned and removed from shelves. Though librarians are part of professional organizations that subscribe to freedom of information, academic and intellectual freedom and, thus, actively discourage censorship,[1] and many librarians embrace these ideals, at times librarians and libraries can—intentionally or unintentionally—play a role in marginalizing romance novels and their authors.

Scholarship surrounding libraries and popular romance is a small but growing area of interest; however, it has, until recently, been mostly confined to the literature of library and information science. Germinal studies such as those from Denice Adkins, Linda Esser, and Diane Velasquez laid the groundwork for scholarship regarding romance and public libraries,[2] and others have since taken up that banner, but studies of academic and special library collections and practices have lagged behind.

The intersections of libraries and romance have been introduced to popular romance scholars since the very first International Association for the Study of Popular Romance (IASPR) conference in Brisbane, Australia, with Juliet Flesch’s “Attitudes of Victorian Public Librarians towards Romance Readers.” My 2012 article in Journal of Popular Romance Studies (JPRS) became the first article aimed at romance scholars to address popular romance studies in academic libraries, but my focus was on the collection on popular romance scholarship, not on the primary resources themselves.

In this special issue of JPRS, Sarah E. Sheehan and Jen Stevens begin to close that gap by focusing their article on the idea of acquiring popular romance novels for an academic library collection. Additionally, Renee Bennett-Kapusniak and Adriana McCleer as well as Vassiliki Veros expand on their presentations at the 2014 IASPR conference in Thessaloniki, Greece. Bennett-Kapusniak and McCleer provide an in-depth look at making multicultural romance e-books available in a public library consortium, and Veros offers a [End Page 1] critical discussion of romance novels’ cultural capital, paratext, and metadata (or lack thereof) in library catalog records, and how this serves to marginalize romance authors and their works.

All three of these articles add vital components to the literature that connects library science and popular romance, but there are many other topics within this scholarly intersection yet to be examined. Future librarians/popular romance scholars have an open and exciting field of inquiry to contribute to, and I can only hope they embrace the challenge.


[1] “Intellectual Freedom Statements.” IFLA. International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions, 3 Feb. 2015. Web. 16 Aug. 2015. http://www.ifla.org/publications/intellectual-freedom-statements-by-others.

[2] Though not a comprehensive list, see: Adkins, Denice, Linda Esser, Diane Velasquez, and Heather L. Hill. “Romance Novels in American Public Libraries: A Study of Collection Development Practices.” Library Collections, Acquisitions, and Technical Services 32.2 (2008): 59-67; Adkins, Denice, Linda Esser, and Diane Velasquez. “Relations between Librarians and Romance Readers: A Missouri Study.” Public Libraries 45.4 (2006): 54-64; Adkins, Denice, Linda Esser, and Diane Velasquez. “Promoting Romance Novels in American Public Libraries.” Public Libraries 49.4 (2010): 41-48. [End Page 2]

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Editor’s Note: Issue 4.2

As editor of the Journal of Popular Romance Studies, I’m often tempted to point to this or that event as a turning point in scholarship on love in global popular culture. These days, however, the turning points are coming so quickly that I’m getting rather dizzy trying to follow them.

In the past few months we’ve seen the fifth international conference on popular romance studies—the largest one yet—hosted by Aristotle University in Thessaloniki, as well as a day-long interdisciplinary colloquium on love sponsored by the Love Research Network. New monographs on popular romance fiction have appeared by JPRS editorial board member Eva Illouz (Hard-Core Romance: “Fifty Shades of Grey,” Best-Sellers, and Society) and by Jayashree Kamble, vice-president of the International Association for the Study of Popular Romance (Making Meaning in Popular Romance Fiction: An Epistemology). The Wiki bibliography of romance scholarship—which includes special pages on Chick-Lit and Rom-Coms—has recently added entries and links to new work on popular romance culture, from fiction and film to comics and gaming. This work draws on disciplines as diverse as digital humanities, business history, geography, and medicine, studying texts and media from a wide range of countries, including China, India, South Africa, and Spain. Some of these pieces were published by two other interdisciplinary journals, Mosaic and the Australasian Journal of Popular Culture, whose latest issues focus on “Romance.”

Issue 4.2 of JPRS contributes in several ways, I hope, to this emerging global conversation. It opens with our Special Issue on the Popular Culture of Romantic Love in Australia, edited by Hsu-Ming Teo: six scholarly essays on fiction, film, and material culture, as well as a substantial interview with the much-honored Australian romance author Anne Gracie conducted by our Teaching and Learning editor, Lisa Fletcher. In the Teaching and Learning section itself, we have two exemplary essays on the theory and pedagogical practice of bringing popular romance fiction into the university classroom: Beth Driscoll’s essay on teaching Nora Roberts’s Spellbound and Julie M. Dugger’s reflections on teaching a romance unit, as she has done for the past five years, in her course on “Women and Literature.” We have five new book reviews, their subjects ranging from cognitive science and popular culture to Disney princesses, happy endings, Twilight, and the history of the [End Page 1] “romance” as a genre. Finally, because 2014 marks the thirtieth anniversary of Janice Radway’s groundbreaking study Reading the Romance, we offer a set of seven brief presentations from the pair of roundtable panel discussions of Radway’s work at the Popular Culture Association / American Culture Association national conference last spring. Ranging from senior faculty to graduate students, these voices from English, fan studies, religious studies, and other disciplines reflect on the enduring impact of—and, at times, on the controversies surrounding—one of the books that made possible both this journal and this remarkable moment in global romance scholarship. [End Page 2]

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Special Issue: The Popular Culture of Romantic Love in Australia (Editor’s Introduction)
by Hsu-Ming Teo

A couple of years ago I put out a call for papers for a project on the popular culture of romantic love in Australia. The aim of the project was to understand how Australians’ beliefs, ideals, and practices of romantic love have changed over the course of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries; how Australians have portrayed being in love, or falling out of love, and how these issues are related to dating, courtship, and long-term commitments such as cohabitation and marriage. In other words: what kinds of popular cultural practices have facilitated or reflected ideas of romantic love to Australians? What is the place of romantic love in the nation, and what is romantic love expected to do within Australian society and culture?

Australia has not been known for its particularly notable or enthusiastic celebrants of love. Quite the contrary. One of our most famous and grumpy expatriates, Germaine Greer, excoriated love in the following terms:

Love, love, love – all the wretched cant of it, masking egotism, lust, masochism, fantasy under a mythology of sentimental postures, a welter of self-induced miseries and joys, blinding and masking the essential personalities in the frozen gestures of courtship, in the kissing and the dating and the desire, the compliments and the quarrels which vivify its barrenness. (The Female Eunuch, 1970)

Given her scorn for love, Greer might have been pleased to know that her fellow Australian scholars feared that Australians were in fact lacking a well-developed culture of romantic love. In 1982 a literary conference held at the University of Sydney on “Love in Australian Writing” came to the conclusion that, on the whole, Australian literature “is not rich in the prose or poetry of love in its self-transcendent sense” (Clark et al., 45). One scholar suggested: it is “not that Australians are incapable of love, that they do not feel it, but that its flow is soon diverted into channels of pessimism and despair” (Clark et al., 3). Participants went on to question: “Why is love not convincingly revealed in our literature? [End Page 1] Is it that we have no language for the feelings? Or are the feelings themselves absent?” (Clark et al., 31).

Any reader or scholar of popular romance fiction would immediately realize that the reason why Australian literature seemed so bereft of love to these academics was because they had failed to consider romance novels. Since then, of course, Juliet Flesch’s From Australia With Love: A History of Modern Australian Popular Romance Novels (2004) has appeared and increasing numbers of Australian scholars and postgraduate students are studying popular romance novels, whether Australian or not.

For the purposes of this special issue of JPRS, however, I wanted to see what my colleagues made of romantic love in Australian popular culture as a whole, not just in romance novels, and whether they thought Australians were indeed optimistic or pessimistic about the possibilities of love. The papers in this issue reflect the attempt to reflect on how love is represented in material culture, and in songs, poems, novels, printed images and films. The articles are arranged in roughly chronological order (by topic, not by composition) to give the reader some sense of how ideas about romantic love, and the treatment of love, have changed over time.

The issue opens with Annita Boyd’s history of the “Nellie Stewart bangle”, a solid gold bangle given as a symbol of love and commitment to Nellie Stewart, one of Australia’s first stage celebrities, by her married lover, George Musgrove, in 1885. Boyd’s consideration of the material culture of love shows how Stewart’s celebrity status ignited a passion for this item of jewelry among young women, but its meaning changed over time from being a special item given by a lover as a romantic engagement or wedding gift, to a commonplace gift from family members by the early twentieth century.

Covering the same late nineteenth/early twentieth century period as Boyd’s essay, Hsu-Ming Teo’s article explores Australian romance fiction from 1880s to 1930s to consider how Australian women writers conceptualized romantic love, gender relations, marriage, and the role of the romantic couple within the nation and British Empire. She argues that prior to Australian Federation (1901), short stories about love and romance novels tended to be more pessimistic about the outcome of romantic love in the colonies. After Federation, however, many of the obstacles to love that had developed in the colonial romance persisted, but in the post-Federation romance novel women writers began to imagine that Australian character, culture and environment were sufficient to overcome such obstacles and end happily. In the post-1901 romances, a successful marriage between an Australian and a Briton also served the higher purpose of either nation- or empire-building.

Where Teo focuses on the more traditional study of women producing romantic narratives, Melissa Bellanta’s article focuses on masculine expressions of sentimentality and romance by exploring the multi-media phenomenon of The Sentimental Bloke: a book of poems by C.J. Dennis that was popularized through radio and concert hall recitals, films and further related works of verse by Dennis. Bellanta argues that a consideration of this love story, which expresses heterosexual romantic feelings from a self-consciously masculine point of view, shows that Australian men took an active interest in producing and consuming romantic culture during the mid-twentieth century – a topic which has hitherto been neglected.

The theme of male-centered meditations about heterosexual romantic love continues with Mark Nicholls’s study of the popular Australian film of 1997 starring [End Page 2] Richard Roxburgh and Cate Blanchett, Thank God He Met Lizzie. Where Bellanta focuses on sentimental feelings of love among men, an analysis of this romantic comedy/drama leads Nicholls to think about male melancholia, loss of intimacy, and stasis in marital relationships. The 1990s opened with an exuberant celebration of Australian multicultural love in Baz Luhrmann’s Strictly Ballroom (1992) but, increasingly, this was a decade when Australian culture seemed to exhibit a loss of confidence in narratives of romantic love, dominated as it was by two other internationally popular Australian films where friendship was more enduring than romantic love: Muriel’s Wedding (1994) and The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert (1994). Perhaps Thank God He Met Lizzie fits into this cultural melancholia about love. In exploring postmodern Bluebeard Tales – both film and fiction – from Australia and New Zealand, Lucy Butler shows how the very narrative forms of romantic love and intimacy are destabilized, marked by violence and repetition. These tales structurally undermine the quest for love and truth, sometimes substituting self-realization as a more appropriate goal instead.

This issue concludes on a more optimistic note with two pieces about love in the twenty-first century. Lauren O’Mahony introduces us to ‘chook lit’ – the Australian rural romance. Through an astute consideration of Jillaroo (2002) by Rachel Treasure, Australia’s most popular rural romance novelist, O’Mahony compares how men and women relate to and treat each other with how they relate to and treat animals, particularly dogs. She thus demonstrates the concerns of the subgenre with contemporary gender, environmental and animal rights issues in rural Australia. The last piece in this issue is a transcript of Lisa Fletcher’s interview with Anne Gracie, one of Australia’s most awarded popular historical romance writers and a past president of the Romance Writers of Australia (2006 – 2008). Their conversation ranges over such topics as Gracie’s thoughts on the distinctions and connections between popular romance and literary fiction, Gracie’s latest novel The Autumn Bride (2013), and the happy ending in romance fiction. [End Page 3]

Works Cited

Clark, Axel, Fletcher, John and Marsden, Robin. 1982. The Theme of Love in Australian Writing: Colloquium Papers. Sydney: Christopher Brennan Society and the Literature Board of the Australia Council.

Greer, Germaine. 1970. The Female Eunuch. London: McGibbon & Kee. Print. [End Page 4]

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Special Issue: Love in Latin American Popular Culture (Editor’s Introduction)
by David William Foster

By one of those quirks that make language so fascinating, in Spanish the word romance, although in common use to refer to a love story, is derived from the same word with an older meaning: romancero, which means something like “popular [song] ballad.” The connection lies in the way that these ballads “in the colloquial [Roman] manner” (thus the etymology of the word, as opposed to “in the formal Latinate manner”) circulated among the people, sung by professional balladeers, in opposition to learned literary works. One of the major categories of the ballads, and perhaps its most popular, was that of the love stories, and especially those that had unhappy endings. After all, lives lived in misery are intrinsically more interesting that lives lived in carefree happiness….

Because of their origins in oral rather than written literature (beginning in the late Middle Ages, the ballads were eventually gathered into collections), these “romance stories” are intrinsically marginal to the more elevated high culture canon. While Romanticism did much to make the medieval ballads important, most popular-language love stories did not make it into the canon. And in Latin America, where we do find popular love stories, now written in prose or presented on screen, rather than circulating as poetry, they are customarily read as allegories of larger sociopolitical issues. Whether in written novelistic form or as television drama, popular romance in Latin America has hardly been studied at all in its own right, and certainly not as expansively as English-language materials have been studied in recent years.

Thus, the opportunity to bring these essays together in this special issue is a particularly satisfying scholarly task. Authors were charged both with discovering pertinent examples of popular love stories and examining them within the context of contemporary theoretical models. Of particular interest would be that critical work that approaches popular romance from a feminist, queer, and masculine studies perspective: work which emphasizes the prevailing Hispanic critical practice of viewing cultural production in historical and ideological terms. It is for this reason that these studies all, in one way or another, challenge hegemonic patriarchal and heteronormative parameters, with a secure commitment to Alexander Doty’s premise in Making Things Perfectly Queer (1993) that popular culture, far from simply repeating fossilized social models, allows, in [End Page 1] its loosely structured and often irreverently comical mode, for various degrees and forms of queering the social text.

The six texts brought together here are, if not predominately queer in focus, clearly positioned to go against the grain of heterosexist prerogatives, official narratives, and unreflective reinforcements of the amorous status quo. As with any special issue, they represent only a sample of the work that has been and might be done on the topic.  Still, by ranging over straight and queer, masculine and feminine, and various national traditions in Latin America, these essays will, it is hoped, serve to stimulate a broader and more inclusive research agenda on Latin American popular romance than we have had to date. [End Page 2]

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Editor’s Note: Issue 4.1

Last November, the Humanities Research Centre at Australian National University held a two-day conference on “The Radicalism of Romantic Love: Critical Perspectives.”  The conference conveners, Renata Grossi and David West, come to the subject of love from backgrounds in law and political philosophy; Ann Ferguson, who spoke with me on the opening panel, is an American feminist philosopher whose latest book, Love: a Question for Feminism in the Twenty-First Century (Routledge, 2013), is co-edited with Anna G. Jónasdóttir, the Icelandic political scientist and gender studies scholar known for her work on the “political conditions of sexual love.”  Next September, Mansfield College at Oxford will host a global conference on “Gender and Love”:  the fourth such gathering in as many years, featuring themes such as “Love as a Disciplinary Force: Productions of Gender” (papers on narrative, law, religion), “Norms, Normativity, Intimacy” (papers on “rituals and rites” and “transgressions and taboos”), “Gendered Yearnings,” “Global Perspectives,” and, last but not least, “Representations of Gender and Love,” this last the home for papers on media, aesthetics, gendered love narrations, and so on.

It may not be spring, but academia’s fancy seems to be turning to thoughts of love, from a dizzying variety of perspectives.  But what is the relationship between this emerging interdisciplinary field—is it too soon to call it “Love Studies”?—and our own bailiwick, the study of Popular Romance?

We have a great deal in common:  the topics of love, desire, and intimate relationships; interests in gender and power, the global and the local; a willingness to look at love in real life as well as in its media representations, neither conflating the two nor ignoring the complex feedback loops that link them.  Love Studies attends to a wider range of loves that Popular Romance Studies—not just romantic love, but also filial love, parental love, and the political bonding that Ferguson calls “solidarity love”—and also, at least so far, to a rather different set of texts:  more ancient and medieval works; more canonical philosophers; more theorists and thinkers from the contemporary academic scene.  As I have encountered it so far, Love Studies also boasts a well-honed critical edge, a wariness about the costs of love as such, especially to women. Such wariness was not uncommon in works of Popular Romance Studies from the 1980s and early ‘90s, but the field seems to have mellowed in the past decade. [End Page 1]

We have, I think, a great deal to learn from the new field of Love Studies—and also a great deal to contribute.  Consider the range of essays and reviews in JPRS 4.1.  In the main body of the issue, we have three essays on the subgenre of erotic romance:  two on the most famous recent contribution to that subgenre, E. L. James’s Fifty Shades trilogy, engaging it via the sharply different perspectives of fan-fiction / fandom studies and the history of white masculinity; one on the groundbreaking collection Macho Sluts (1988) by Patrick Califia, which situates this volume of lesbian BDSM fiction at the crossroads of public history (the feminist anti-pornography movement of the 1980s), queer activism, and romance genre conventions.  We look forward to publishing more papers on queer romance, and on queer readings of heterosexual texts, as part of our Special Issue on Queering Popular Romance, edited by Andrea Wood and Jonathan A. Allan, for which the Call for Papers has recently been posted.  Please submit your work, and spread the word.

Speaking of Special Issues, JPRS 4.1 proudly features the first of our guest-edited Special Issues:  a gathering of pieces on Romantic Love in Latin American Popular Culture edited by David William Foster, Regents Professor of Spanish and Women and Gender Studies at Arizona State University.  The six essays here focus primarily on film and visual culture, with a particular interest, as Foster writes in his Introduction, in approaching these texts “from a feminist, queer, and masculine studies perspective”; the Special Issue also contains an interview with the acclaimed Mexican novelist and short-story author Enrique Serna by the editor, translator, and scholar Michael K. Schuessler (Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana).  Future issues of JPRS will include Special Issues on Love in Australian Popular Culture, guest edited by Hsu-Ming Teo, and Romancing the Long British 19th Century, guest edited by Jayashree Kamble and Pamela Regis.  (The Call for Papers for the latter is still open, and will be until March 1, 2014.)  On a less regional / national note, we have upcoming Special Issues on Romancing the Library, edited by Crystal Goldman, and on the widely-popular, rapidly-evolving subgenre of Paranormal Romance, edited by Kristina Deffenbacher and Erin S. Young.  Submissions guidelines for these, and for all of our issues, can be found on our Submissions page.

Finally, we are pleased to offer four book reviews: a piece on Cathy L. Jrade’s study of the Uruguayan poet Delmira Agustini, which highlights the discourses of love, gender, eroticism and Latin American identity in this major modernist’s work; a review of Victoria Nelson’s Gothicka: Vampire Heroes, Human Gods, and the New Supernatural, a monograph of interest to any scholar of paranormal romance; an assessment of the new anthology Trauma and Romance in Contemporary British Literature, which includes (among many other pieces) an essay by our Editorial Board member, Lynne Pearce; and, finally, foundational romance scholar Kay Mussell’s evaluation of New Approaches to Popular Romance Fiction, the collection edited by Sarah S. G. Frantz and, well, me.  If you know of a book we should review—new work, or a classic text that’s worth revisiting—please get in touch with our Book Review editor at bookreviews@jprstudies.org. [End Page 2]

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Note from the Book Review Editor

Popular Romance Studies is a new enough field that the canon of relevant scholarship has yet to be established. The expansive, interdisciplinary nature of the field, which takes as its purview “romantic love and its representations in global popular culture, now and in the past,” makes it even more urgent for popular romance scholars to read both widely and comparatively.

To help popular romance scholars broaden their intellectual horizons, we have begun taking a new, more expansive approach to the book review section here at JPRS.  In our last issue, with a piece on Lynn S. Neal’s Romancing God: Evangelical Women and Inspirational Fiction (2006), we began what will be an ongoing effort to look back at works in scholarship that might have missed readers’ attention, yet which remain of signal use to this emerging field. We are pleased this time to include reviews of two other important books from the early 2000s:  Women and Romance: A Reader, edited by Susan Ostrov Weisser, and Barbara Fuchs’s analysis of the literary genre (or “strategy,” as she has it) of Romance. We invite our readers to suggest other older works on love, romance, and popular culture that might be worth revisiting, and if you have an interest in writing such a piece yourself, please feel free to get in touch.

In addition to these individual retrospective pieces, we are very pleased to present a larger, tenth-anniversary exploration of Pamela Regis’s A Natural History of the Romance Novel. Including papers by Pamela Regis, Eric Murphy Selinger, An Goris, Jayashree Kamble, Sarah S. G. Frantz, and Jonathan A. Allan (myself), this forum considers the importance and continuing impact of Regis’s past work, both inside and outside the academy, along with some thoughts on where she and romance novel studies might be headed next.

Needless to say, we are also still interested in current research in the field! We are, therefore, excited to include a review of Hsu-Ming Teo’s groundbreaking new book Desert Passions: Orientalism and Romance Novels—a book with an historical sweep even longer than Regis’s study whose impact will be fascinating to trace in the years ahead.

If you are interested in reviewing for JPRS, or if you have published a book on love, romance culture, or other relevant topics, or if you simply know of a book that should be reviewed, older or brand new, please send us an email at bookreviews@jprstudies.org. [End Page 1]

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The Scholarship of Teaching and Learning Popular Romance Studies: What is it, and why does it matter?
by Lisa Fletcher

Since joining the editorial team of JPRS as Teaching and Learning Editor in late 2012, I have had numerous conversations with scholars about the scope and purpose of this section that have raised some important (and difficult) questions. The main questions for those who are already active in the research community of popular romance studies are very practical ones: What does an article about teaching and learning look like? My research does inform the work I’ve been doing with my students, but how can I tell if my teaching practice is significant enough to report and analyse in a public academic forum? Why should I put time and energy I would usually devote to my “real” research into writing an article on teaching and learning? For those who are already very familiar with the scholarship of teaching and learning in higher education, the questions raised by this section relate to its place in JPRS. They ask: What is popular romance studies? How widely and in what disciplinary and institutional contexts does it inform teaching? What other forums are there for discussion and debate about the teaching and learning of popular romance studies? While I have found some of these questions easier to respond to than others, none of them have simple or single answers. It will, I hope, be the collective and ongoing work of contributors to the section to think through the issues such questions raise and to inspire others to join the conversation. I envision “Teaching and Learning” in JPRS as a “trading zone”[1] for the open exchange of ideas, research findings, and tools for enriching the experience of teachers and, most importantly, students in courses which examine the meaning and significance of romantic love in global popular culture.

There is as yet no readily identifiable body of work that we can call the “scholarship of teaching and learning popular romance studies.” This is not to say that the number of scholars talking and writing about the place of popular romance studies in the university classroom is yet to reach critical mass. To the contrary, JPRS decided to launch this section because of strong evidence that the teaching and learning of popular romance is already a hot topic of discussion and debate, at least for those of us based in literary and cultural studies. Existing forums for trading ideas about popular romance in the English classroom include: RomanceScholar, a listserv for “scholars and teachers of romance fiction”; the blog Teach Me Tonight: Musings on Romance Fiction from an Academic Perspective; and the [End Page 1] Resources for Teaching Popular Romance Fiction website hosted by DePaul University Professor of English  and JPRS’s Executive Editor, Eric Selinger. As this journal defines it, “popular romance studies” is a cross-disciplinary banner for scholarship about “romantic love in global popular culture, now or in the past.” While there is no question that literary studies has been to date the dominant discipline in this still emerging field, JPRS remains committed to its vision of the journal as a genuinely cross-disciplinary site where scholars with common interests from diverse disciplinary backgrounds can disseminate, build on, and critique research.

Popular romance studies and the scholarship of teaching and learning have, in fact, a lot in common. They are both broad-based areas of scholarship that resonate in different ways in particular disciplines, and whose key players see their greatest potential in cross- and interdisciplinary terms. Further, they are both relatively “new and marginal” (Huber, Balancing Acts 214) scholarly domains where experienced and new participants worry over established cultural and professional hierarchies that threaten to devalue their work. There is an abundance of evidence that scholars who pursue their research interest in love and popular culture have often done so against the prevailing view that their time would be better spent investigating more serious and weightier issues. Similarly, as Mary Taylor Huber demonstrates in her book Balancing Acts: The Scholarship of Teaching and Learning in Academic Careers, academics whose passion for teaching inspires them to invest time and intellectual energy in the scholarship of teaching and learning (especially before achieving tenure) are often intensely aware that they do so in an academe that values research over teaching (see also Linkon; Ramsden).

In Gerald Graff’s words, “teaching has been . . .  notoriously undervalued in universities” (5). How much more intensely is this bias felt by teaching academics who focus on popular culture? Graff offers a fascinating corrective to the short-sighted and elitist orthodoxies he finds in higher education: “In a real sense, the university is itself popular culture—what else should we call an institution that serves millions if not an agent of mass popularization?” ( 21; emphasis is original). Henry Giroux also insists on the relationship between teaching and learning and popular culture:

. . . pedagogy is about the creation of a public sphere, one that brings people together in a variety of spaces to talk, exchange information, listen, feel their desires, and expand their capacities for joy, love, solidarity, and struggle. Though I do not wish to romanticise popular culture, it is precisely in its diverse spaces and spheres that most of the education that matters is taking place on a global scale. (x)

Giroux’s argument that the most active and meaningful pedagogical spaces are not managed by universities will, I am sure, be a compelling one for readers of this journal. Popular romance studies of genre fiction, for instance, have long strived to include the activities of writers, fans and readers which, in Ken Gelder’s words “is in fact academic in its own way, often concentrating on the finer details of the fiction and even working at the level of literary scholarship” (75). But what does all of this mean in practical terms for academics who take popular culture so seriously that they have made it the focus of their teaching? This is exactly the kind of thorny question I would like to see explored here. [End Page 2]

The idea of a designated “scholarship of teaching” is usually credited to Ernest Boyer, who introduced the term in his 1990 book, Scholarship Reconsidered: Priorities of the Professoriate (“learning” was added nearly a decade or so later). As Liz Grauerholz and John F. Zipp explain, there are numerous definitions of the scholarship of teaching and learning, but “common to most approaches is that scholars investigate and share publicly the impact that various methods have on student learning” (87). The scholarship of teaching and learning is therefore a “form of practitioner research.” In other words, it is “a practical enterprise, anchored in the concrete realities of teachers, students, and subject matter” (Hutchings and Huber, 229). As I see it, engaging in the scholarship of teaching and learning is an opportunity to reflect in a sustained way on one of the most challenging and most rewarding aspects of an academic career—finding ways to help our students learn.

Following Lee S. Shulman, most proponents of the scholarship of teaching and learning argue that it must be based on the three central components “of being public (‘community property’), open to critique and evaluation, and in a form that others can build on”:

A scholarship of teaching is not synonymous with excellent teaching. It requires a kind of ‘going meta,’ in which faculty frame and systematically investigate questions related to student learning—the conditions under which it occurs, what it looks like, how to deepen it, and so forth—and do so with an eye not only to improving their own classroom but to advancing practice beyond it. (Hutchings and Shulman 13; emphasis is original)

The most common type of journal article in the scholarship of teaching and learning reports and reflects on the development, implementation, and/or outcomes of a novel approach to undergraduate teaching, typically at the individual unit or course level.[2] Such articles offer practical case studies of a particular approach to teaching and learning and employ a range of evidence to support claims about the effectiveness of course design, classroom practice, or assessment (e.g., quantitative and qualitative student evaluation data; class observations and staff reflection; analysis of student assignments; and pre- and post-test results). However, as Hutchings and Shulman suggest, teaching and learning scholarship does more than provide templates that others might adapt for their own purposes, although this is certainly one of its uses. Instead, I hope that potential contributors will use their teaching practice as a launch pad for interrogating more deeply the place of popular romance studies in higher education. Possible topics for contributions include, but are not limited to:

  • Key issues in the teaching and learning of popular romance studies
  • The research/teaching nexus and popular romance
  • Curriculum design for teaching popular romance
  • Assessment models for teaching popular romance
  • Teaching and learning popular romance in the digital age
  • Student responses to studying representations of romantic love
  • Popular romance fans as teachers and students
  • Supervising dissertations in popular romance studies [End Page 3]

Submissions to this section will be peer-reviewed in exactly the same way as those submitted for the main section of the journal. My strong feeling is that, as universities around the world increasingly require staff seeking tenure and promotion to provide high-level evidence of their success against the three categories of research, teaching and service, forums such as this will only become more important. In this regard, “Teaching and Learning” in JPRS will (although it may take some time) have a role to play in the career pathways of up-and-coming scholars.

Popular romance studies—as even the briefest perusal of the literature reveals—is not a clearly defined area of scholarship. This is, in part, because of its still-nascent interdisciplinary identity. As with any emergent field, the classroom is one of most important sites for mapping the parameters of popular romance studies, identifying and defining its key concepts (most importantly “love”), and for determining theoretical frameworks and methodologies. One of the guiding principles of the scholarship of teaching and learning is that the classroom functions as a “site of inquiry” for students and teachers. This resonates in two main ways in this context: 1. reflecting on the teaching of topics relevant to popular romance studies in this journal will add detail to the picture of what this area of study is and of what it might become; and 2. reflecting on the effectiveness of approaches to learning and teaching popular culture will build knowledge about techniques and strategies for improving student learning. “Teaching and Learning” is, to the best of my knowledge, the only academic site devoted to the publication of peer-reviewed studies of the teaching and learning of popular culture. This means, I think, that its success depends on seeing it as a work-in-progress and I welcome any and all suggestions of what the scholarship of teaching and learning popular romance studies might look like.


[1] Mary Taylor Huber and Sherwyn P. Morreale borrow Peter Gallison’s notion of a “trading zone” to describe the intellectual and professional work of SoTL: “It is in this borderland that scholars from different disciplinary cultures come to trade their wares—insights, ideas, and findings—even though the meanings and methods behind them may vary considerably among consumer groups” (“Situating the Scholarship” 2; see also Huber, Balancing Acts 219).

[2] This was the model followed for the first article published in the section under its initial banner “Pedagogy,” which I co-authored with Rosemary Gaby and Jennifer Kloester. [End Page 4]

Works Cited

Boyer, Ernest L. Scholarship Reconsidered: Priorities of the Professoriate. New York: Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Learning, 1990. Print.

Gelder, Kenneth. Popular Fiction: The Logics and Practices of Literary Field. London: Routledge, 2004. Print.

Giroux, Henry A. Disturbing Pleasures: Learning Popular Culture. New York: Routledge, 1994. Print.

Graff, Gerald. Clueless in Academe: How Schooling Obscures the Life of the Mind. New Haven: Yale UP, 2003. Print.

Grauerholz, Liz, and John F. Zipp. “How to Do the Scholarship of Learning and Teaching.” Teaching Sociology 36.1 (2008): 87-94. ProQuest. Web. 17 April 2013.

Huber, Mary Taylor. Balancing Acts: The Scholarship of Teaching and Learning in Academic Careers. Washington, D.C.: Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching/American Association for Higher Education, 2004. Print.

Huber, Mary Taylor, and Sherwyn P. Morreale. “Situating the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning: A Cross-Disciplinary Conversation.” Disciplinary Styles in the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning: Exploring Common Ground. Ed. Huber and Morreale. Washington, D.C.: American Association for Higher Education, 2002. Print.

Hutchings, Pat, and Mary Taylor Huber. “Placing Theory in the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning.” Arts and Humanities in Higher Education 7.3 (2008): 229-44. Print.

Hutchings, Pat, and Lee S. Shulman. “The Scholarship of Teaching: New Elaborations, New Developments.” Change: The Magazine of Higher Learning 31.5 (2010): 10-15. Print. Taylor and Francis Online. Web. 18 April 2013.

Linkon, Sherry Lee. Literary Learning: Teaching the English Major. Bloomington: Indiana UP, 2011. Kindle.

Ramsden, Paul. Learning to Teach in Higher Education. 1992. London: Routledge, 2003. Kindle. [End Page 5]

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