Queering Popular Romance

In 1997, Kay Mussell called upon scholars of popular romance “to incorporate analysis of lesbian and gay romances into our mostly heterosexual models.” Today, closing in on two decades later, that challenge has yet to be met.  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, 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, etc.).

The Journal of Popular Romance Studies therefore calls for papers on “Queering the Romance,” in the broadest possible sense of the phrase.

Recognizing that there are both similarities and tensions between “queer theory” and “lesbian and gay criticism,” we call not only for papers that consider the importance of identity politics to popular romance fiction—that is, papers on romance novels with LGBTQ protagonists—but also for papers which give “queer” readings of ostensibly heterosexual romances, as well as for those which are theoretically engaged with the fluid concept of “queerness,” no matter the bodies and / or sexualities of the protagonists involved.  We think here of 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.”

Topics to be addressed might include:

  • Continuity and Change in LGBT romance (including publishing, circulation, and readership), from gay and lesbian pulps to digital platforms
  • Rereading the Romance, Queerly: queer re-readings of older romance scholarship, of canonical romance texts, and of the text / reader relationship
  • Queering the romance genre across different media (film, television, graphic novels, video games, etc.)
  • Queering subgenres and romance conventions / tropes (virginity, sexuality, attraction, betrothal, the Happily Ever After ending)
  • Questions of Authorship / Authority / Appropriation: who writes, reads, and gets to judge LGBTQ romance, and why?
  • Intersectional texts and readings:  queerness and disability, race, ethnicity, illness, religion, etc.
  • Beyond m/m and f/f:  bringing bisexual, transgender, and other genderqueer romance into the discourse

This special issue will be guest edited by Andrea Wood and Jonathan A. Allan.  Please submit scholarly papers no more than 10,000 words, including notes and bibliography, by September 1, 2014, to An Goris, Managing Editor, at managing.editor@jprstudies.org. Submissions should be Microsoft Word documents, with citations in MLA format; please remove all identifying Please remove all identifying material (i.e. running heads with the author’s name) so that submissions can easily be sent out for anonymous peer review. For more information on how to submit a paper, please visit http://jprstudies.org/submissions/