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]