Just over a year ago, scholars from around the world gathered at the Fales Library and Special Collections of New York University, for the Third Annual International Conference on Popular Romance: “Can’t Buy Me Love? Sex, Money, Power, and Romance.” (The Fourth International conference was held in York, UK, late in September, 2012; the Fifth will be next September, in San Francisco.) The representation of romantic love in fiction, film, TV, and other media was, of course, our primary topic, with speakers from both the academy and the romance industry, including authors, editors, and publishers. Several talks at the conference, inspired by our venue, also stepped back to consider the practical exigencies of building and sustaining the study of popular romance at the university level.
This issue of the Journal of Popular Romance Studies features four essays built from work at the New York conference, along with a fifth by An Goris, keynote speaker from the international conference on “Popular Romance in the New Millennium” (McDaniel College, 2011) and reviews of recent and significant scholarship.
The lively range of voices and topics to be found in our field is on display in issue 3.1:
- Drawing on their varied expertise as scholars, authors, editors, and publishers, a trio of contributors (Katherine E. Lynch / Nell Stark, Ruth E. Sternglantz, and Len Barot / Radclyffe) collaborate to trace the history of the queer heroine in high-art and popular romance from the Middle Ages to 21st-century lesbian paranormal romance;
- Novelist Ann Herendeen (author of Phyllida and the Brotherhood of Philander and Pride / Prejudice) reflects on the literary, historical, and erotic underpinnings of her novels’ surprising—yet oddly familiar—heroes, each of them a bisexual “top,” as dominant in the social structure of Regency England as he is in the bedroom;
- Bringing Young Adult literature into our discussions, Amanda Allen explores the female power struggles and economics of “boy capital” in Mary Stoltz’s novels of adolescent romance in the years after World War Two;
- In our first essay on TV romance, Spanish scholar Beatriz Oria offers a close reading of the mix of consumerism, postfeminism, and romantic nostalgia in a crucial episode of Sex and the City;
- An Goris offers a “differential” approach to popular romance fiction, revisiting the broad theoretical claims made by an earlier scholar, Catherine Belsey, about how romance novels represent the mind and body in love and testing them against a selection of novels from across the career of Nora Roberts;
- In a groundbreaking essay, librarian Crystal Goldman attempts to define what a core collection in Popular Romance Studies would look like, and she considers the likelihood of academic libraries allocating funds to build such a collection.
With the buzz of our 2012 conference fresh in our minds, all of us at JPRS look forward to bringing you the best new scholarship from that gathering—and of course, the best new peer-reviewed work that comes in to us throughout the year. As you’ll see from our list of upcoming Special Issues, we have a lot of exciting topics to consider in the years to come: some thematic, some regional, some focused on a particular author or medium. (Watch out for the new one on “Film Love Matters: Romance, Love, and Sexuality in World Cinema,” which will be coming soon!)
We hope you’ll submit your own work, or send friends and colleagues here.
And, as always, if you find some use for our pieces in the classroom or your research, we hope you’ll let us know!