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Elizabeth Jolley Conference

Call for Proposals: The Fifth International Conference on Popular Romance Studies – Rethinking Love, Rereading the Romance

By Lesley Ann Smith 5 September 2013 Research Comments off

IASPR has released a call for papers for its biennial conference.

Aristotle University
Thessaloniki, Greece
19-21 June, 2014
Deadline: November 15, 2013

Master Class panellists and extended registration

By Lesley Ann Smith 28 June 2013 Research Students Teaching & Learning Comments off

We are pleased to announce an exciting line-up of panellists for the Master Class to be held on 15 August, 2013.

8:45am Registrations
9.00am Fiction writing panel

Ms Deborah Burrows

Dr Julienne van Loon

10:30am Morning tea
11:00am Writing your thesis or exegesis panel

Prof Imelda Whelehan

Dr Deb Hunn

Dr Helen Merrick

Dr Julienne van Loon

12:30pm Lunch
1:15pm Publishing Panel

Dr Christina Lee

Ms Alisa Krasnostein (Twelfth Planet Press)

Mr Joel Naoum (Momentum Books)

Ms Caroline Wood (Margaret River Press)

3:00pm Afternoon tea
3:30pm Publishing post-PhD panel

Dr Thor Kerr

Ms Natasha Lester

Dr Rachel Robertson

Furthermore, registration has been extended to all postgraduate and Higher Degree by Research students in the Humanities at Curtin University. 

If you are a Curtin Humanities HDR and would like to attend the Master Class, please RSVP to Christina Lee ( by 15 July.

To make the event as useful as possible, please provide 3–4 questions for consideration that you would like the panellists to address.

Registrations now open for Master class – 15 August 2013

By Lesley Ann Smith 5 June 2013 Research Students Teaching & Learning Comments off

Registrations are now open for the Master class on scholarship and creative writing as research. The Master class is free to postgraduate and higher degree by research students registered to attend the Elizabeth Jolley Conference.


8:45am Registrations
9.00am Fiction writing panel
10:30am Morning tea
11:00am Writing your thesis or exegesis panel
12:30pm Lunch
1:15pm Publishing Panel
3:00pm Afternoon tea
3:30pm Publishing post-PhD panel

Panellists will be announced shortly.

Time and Venue:

9am-4:30pm, Thursday, 15th August 2013

Room 101/102, Common Ground Café, Building 104, Curtin University, Bentley Campus

To make the event as useful as possible, please provide 3–4 questions for consideration that you would like the panellists to address.

Please send your RSVP and questions to Dr Christina Lee ( by 30 June 2013.

As there are limited places, you must register to attend. If you are unable to attend after registering please let us know so the place can be offered to someone else.

Meet the 2013 Elizabeth Jolley Conference Commitee

By Liz Byrski 9 May 2013 Events Research Comments off

Meet the 2013 Elizabeth Jolley Conference organising committee!

Here is brief glimpse of the people behind the Elizabeth Jolley Conference. Our organising committee is a group of dynamic individuals. We have diverse literary and cultural interests, as you will see in the information below but, here, you can see us embracing the theme of this year’s conference, romance!

After arriving in Perth from Sydney in the early 90s, Leigh Brennan assisted with design and production at Black Swan and Acting Out Theatre Companies before he began working at Curtin in the School of Media, Culture and Creative Arts. Although primarily based in Performance Studies where he has collaborated on over 350 different works, Leigh co-ordinates many of the school events and conferences.

Dr Liz Byrski (centre, front) is a writer, journalist and former ABC broadcaster with more than forty years experience in the British and Australian media. She is the author of seven bestselling novels about the lives of older women and twelve non-fiction books. Liz has a PhD in writing and lectures in Professional and Creative Writing at Curtin. She has won several awards for her work as a print and radio journalist and is a former President of the WA Women’s Advisory Council to the Premier.

Dr Deborah Hunn (centre right, back row) is a Lecturer in Creative Writing and Professional Writing and Publishing in the School of Media, Culture and Creative Arts at Curtin University, Western Australia. Deborah completed a PhD at UWA in 2001. Her publications include short fiction, critical essays, interviews, poetry and reviews. Her work can be found in journals such as Westerly, Southerly, Continuum, Polari, JASL, Indigo, and Blithe House Quarterly, as well as in contributions to edited collections. In her spare time, she is a sit down comic.

Dr Jo Jones (centre left, back row) has many research interests that range from Australian historical novels to postcolonial gothic film. She is the author of the forthcoming work Dark Times: The Australian Historical Novels of the History Wars and currently teaches and lectures at Curtin University.

Dr Christina Lee (right, back row) is a Lecturer in Communication and Cultural Studies at Curtin University. She is the author of Screening Generation X: The Politics and Popular Memory of Youth in Contemporary Cinema (2010) and editor of Violating Time: History, Memory, and Nostalgia in Cinema (2008).

Dr Alzena MacDonald (left, back row) is a Lecturer in Communication and Cultural Studies at Curtin University, Western Australia. She teaches extensively in the area of Literary and Cultural Studies. Her research interests include representations of crime/horror, Indian nationalisms, and postcoloniality. Alzena is the editor of Murders and Acquisitions: Representations of the Serial Killer in Popular Culture (Bloomsbury, forthcoming 2013). A former student of Elizabeth Jolley, Alzena is very excited to be a committee member for this conference named in her honour!

Dr Helen Merrick (front, right) joined Internet Studies in 2001, after working in a number of other Western Australian Universities teaching cyberculture, women’s studies and history. Previously she worked for the Women in Leadership program at Edith Cowan University, and was the Acting Director of the Centre for WA History at UWA. In addition to teaching in the Department of Internet Studies, Helen supervises a number of PhD students, and pursues research interests in feminist theory, science fiction, feminist science studies, sustainability and online cultures.

Dr Rachel Robertson is a Lecturer in Professional Writing and Publishing at Curtin University. Her memoir, Reaching One Thousand: a story of love, motherhood and autism, was published by Black Inc in 2012. Her research interests include life writing, mothering, disability studies and creative non-fiction.

Ms Lesley Ann Smith (front, left) is a doctoral student with the Faculty of Humanities, a writer of popular romance fiction and a member of Romance Writers of Australia.

CFP – Shattering Releases:The Pleasures and Politics of Popular Erotic Fiction (edited collection)

By Lesley Ann Smith 3 May 2013 Research Comments off

“It’s taking all my self-control not to fuck you on the hood of this car, just to show you that you’re mine, and if I want to buy you a fucking car, I’ll buy you a fucking car,’ he growls.” (E.L. James, Fifty Shades of Grey)

“Her release was shattering, shocking her as her body seemed to fragment and dissolve, as the earth moved and colors burst all around her, through her, in her…” (Christine Feehan, Dark Magic)

“Listen, Rydstrom and I had a few bumps in the road. Our initial romance consisted of me chaining him in a dungeon and sexually tormenting him. And yet we worked past it.” (Kresley Cole, Shadow’s Claim)

The publication of EL James’ Fifty Shades of Grey in 2011 marks a particularly visible moment in what appears to be a proliferation of erotic fiction, written by and for women, since the end of the twentieth century. More than just an instance of a particular genre of fiction, Fifty Shades has spawned considerable discussion of the significance of ‘women’s popular erotic fiction’ generally.

Shattering Releases seeks to explore this phenomenon, its social and textual origins and its attendant conceptual and political effects. In doing so, the book aims to examine the discursive regularities and popular debates framing the production and reception of women’s popular erotic fiction; the cultural anxieties and transformations such texts express; the ways in which they reinscribe and negotiate relations of gender, sexuality, race, and kinship; the ever-growing proliferation of subgenres, and their role in shaping popular ideas about romance and relationships, desire and the erotic; the ideological forces underpinning their development and visibility as both a ‘new’ and ‘popular’ form.

We invite proposals for contributions to an edited collection of critical research on the cultural significance of ‘women’s popular erotic fiction’. Possible areas of research include (though are not limited to):

·         The cultural work of the different subgenres (BDSM, paranormal romance, erotic crime fiction, ménage a trois, ‘neighbour from hell’, sex confessionals) and the ways of speaking about, categorising and marketing these texts.

·         The rise of independently published online erotic fiction (production and consumption) and the discourses surrounding it.

·         The continuities and departures of erotic fiction from its predecessors in romance fiction and chick lit, as well as those from more ‘respectable’ literary traditions.

·         The role of popular erotic fiction in reinforcing and/or transgressing the hegemony of whiteness, heterosexuality, patriarchy, the family, etc.

·         The role of this fiction in circumscribing an idea of ‘the West’, as well as the possibilities offered by non-western forms of popular erotic fiction.

·         The pleasures of reader consumption and the discourses surrounding it.

·         The function of romance in women’s erotic fiction.

Expressions of interest, including an abstract (250-300 words), a short author bio and list of recent publications, may be forwarded via email to the editors by 24 May, 2013. The anticipated due date for accepted contributions (6,500 –7,500) is 29 November, 2013.

Dr Kristen Phillips, Claire Trevenen, Curtin University (Bentley, Western Australia)
Contact email:,

Imelda Whelehan: The Feminist Bestseller

By Liz Byrski 26 April 2013 Research Uncategorized Comments off

The organising committee of the Elizabeth Jolley Conference are excited that Imelda Whelehan has agreed to be the keynote speaker. To fill in some background information about Imelda we’ve provided a summary of her lastest full-length publication, The Feminist Bestseller: Sex and the Single Girl to Sex in the City (2005), (just in case you haven’t encountered it already). In Imelda’s distinctive and energised style she re-visits the relationship between feminism and the always-changing romance genre.

The Feminist Bestseller spans a number of iconic publications central to Second Wave feminism, such as “non-fiction” books like Millet’s Sexual Politics and Friedan’s The Feminine Mystique but also novels such as Jong’s Fear of Flying or French’s The Women’s Room. Whelehan notes that, as bestsellers, these publications tapped in successfully to a core mass market, successfully reflecting the extent of social/political change for Western women at the time (1960s-70s).

Significantly, Whelehan devotes much of the content of this book to discussing the relationship between these earlier works and examples of chicklit with, as she admits from the outset, are not un-problematically “feminist”. She draws on ideas form an earlier publication Overloaded (2000) where she argues that contemporary feminism has suffered a sad fate, where women are once again “objects of desire” and there is nostalgia for the “battle of the sexes”. In Overloaded she remarked “we have passed into an era of retro-sexism – nostalgia for a lost, uncomplicated past peopled by real women and humorous cheeky chappies”.  (11)

While it seems there is little to connect these two groups of novels: one group takes its heroines out of domesticity, whereas the other moves in the opposite direction as they long for a hero from a Jane Austen novel.  Whelehan, however, notes important similarities. Both created a “small quake” in the publishing industry. Feminist bestsellers are reported to have change women’s lives. Chicklit facilitated an important shift in the way young women’s live were discussed and described. This new generation should be profiting from the activities of their feminist mothers but, rather, lament an excess of freedom.

Whelehan examines the contention that both feminist bestsellers of the 1970s and chicklit are in dialogue with feminism, albeit in different ways. The feminist bestsellers of the 1970s are clearly and strongly linked to the concerns of Second Wave feminism, but they also expose deficiencies and friction points within the movement that haven’t always been addressed in the Movement writings. Chicklit can be used to investigate the way that, three decades onwards, the gaps within feminism have become steadily larger in the social experience of women where feminism, instead of signifying empowerment, is often seen as tyrannical and shrill. Thus, many of the problems that beset feminism and heterosexuality in the 1970s have never been resolved.

Postgraduate Student and Early Career Researcher Registration Bursaries

By Lesley Ann Smith 26 April 2013 Research Students Comments off

Curtin University is pleased to offer a small number of registration bursaries to Higher Degree by Research students, postgraduate coursework students and early career researchers.

The bursaries are valued at $150 and cover the cost of registration for the 2013 Elizabeth Jolley Conference: Reading and Writing Romance in the 21st Century which will be held on 16th August 2013.

Preference will be given to people presenting a paper at the Conference.

The bursaries are open to people who have already registered for the Conference as well as those who have not yet done so. If someone who has already paid for registration is awarded a bursary the money will be paid to them. 

To be considered for a bursary, prepare a short statement of no more than 200 words on how attendance at the Conference will benefit your research, and send to by 24th May 2013.

You can register for the 2013 Elizabeth Jolley Conference: Reading and Writing Romance in the 21st Century at:

 Register for the 2013 Elizabeth Jolley Conference: Reading and Writing Romance in the 21st Century

Conference abstract summary

By Lesley Ann Smith 22 April 2013 Research Students Comments off

Abstracts on a wide range of subjects have been accepted for the 2013 Elizabeth Jolley Conference: Reading and Writing Romance in the 21st Century. Following a keynote address by Professor Imelda Whelehan on the relationship between romance writing and feminism, the Conference will offer three concurrent sessions of 9-10 papers.   

Abstracts have been received on the analysis of contemporary novels including Stephanie Laurens’ Black Cobra Quartet, Toni Jordan’s Addition, and Silhouette Bombshell’s Athena Force series. The “Happily Ever After” was the subject of several abstracts which examined this story event from the perspectives of cultural politics, narrative structure, feminist critique, and gender studies. Sub-genres also attracted attention. Romantic comedy, chick-lit, historical romance, rural romance, crime, paranormal, and erotic fiction will be examined in presentations. Abstracts were also received on Australian fiction, including the work of Elizabeth Jolley, and Indian popular romance fiction. Some papers examined romance novel writing with screen-writing and reality television and compared findings and user experiences, while others reflected on the experience of writing and publishing.

Papers from authors and academics, some double-hatted, explored popular romance fiction from many perspectives and identified issues and challenges for the future confirming …”there is no one representative romance novel.”

At the time of writing, the papers to be presented at the Conference included:

  • “I love you, and want you and only you as my wife…”: Happy Endings and Heterosexuality in Stephanie Laurens’s Black Cobra Quartet
  • Counting on love?: mental illness and romantic engagement in Toni Jordan’s Addition
  • Polar Bears and Evil Scientists: Writing a romantic comedy about climate change
  • Romancing Feminism: From Women’s Studies to Women’s Fiction
  • Make Love, Not War: Baby Boomer Romance Fiction in the Australian Context
  • Writing history, reflecting history: Georgette Heyer’s regency novels in context
  • Sex and Sensibility: The pursuit and recognition of reality through an analysis of romance fiction in popular culture
  • Romance, Romantic Love, and the “want of a fortune”
  • Exploring women and modalities of power in fiction: escaping the straightjacket of genre into digital space
  • Warrior women – hit or myth?
  • Australian Rural Romance as Feminist Romance?
  • Sex and Symbiosis in Women’s Paranormal Porn Fiction
  • Is the Resurgence of Rural Romance an attempt at the Great Australian Novel?
  • The interdependent journeys of the hero and heroine in popular romance fiction
  • Dissolved in a mutual fire: Heroines, Heroes, Desire and Compulsory Demisexuality in the Romance Novel
  • Doing Love Differently: How creative nonfiction can create a dynamic portrayal of romantic love for contemporary young women
  • Pepper Tree Bay: red dust and riding boots
  • Happily-ever-after: Is the contemporary romance plot a modern version of the marriage plot, or its opposite?
  • Queering the romance plot: The trouble with happy endings
  • The Distance Between: Romance readers, authors, publishers and the book industry in Australia.
  • Why all the dust?: The recent proliferation of rural romances in Australia
  • ‘Desi’ Love Stories: Harlequin Mills & Boon’s Indian Enterprise.
  • Are Weredevils as Good as Werewolves?
  • Romance as Fairy Stories: Eloisa James and the Idealisation of Love
  • Transcending genres: romance and crime in wartime Perth
  • Love After the Closet:  Transforming the Lesbian Romance Plot
  • Swashbuckling girls and foppish men: the unusual pleasures of Georgette Heyer’s Regency romances.
  • “He may not be human, but at least he’s not sexist”: gender politics in contemporary paranormal romance
  • Romantic realisms: Australian literature and generic paradoxes

We’ll be profiling speakers and providing more information about their papers in future blogs.

You can register for the 2013 Elizabeth Jolley Conference: Reading and Writing Romance in the 21st Century at:

 Register for the 2013 Elizabeth Jolley Conference: Reading and Writing Romance in the 21st Century

Meaningful encounters – 40 years of feminists reading romance

By Lesley Ann Smith 21 March 2013 Research Students Comments off

The Elizabeth Jolley Lecture, the keynote address of the Elizabeth Jolley Conference, will be delivered by Professor Imelda Whelehan, Research Professor in the Faculty of Arts at the University of Tasmania.


In 1978, US feminist Lillian Robinson noted that she ‘encountered the male literary tradition against a background filled with trashy popular fiction by, for, and about women’.[1] At that time Robinson was virtually a lone defender of the political possibilities of analyzing the popular within feminist criticism; she understood that not only was romance writing an escape from the stultifying patriarchal logic of what constitutes literary fiction, but that it can also ‘tell us something about the materials women use to make their lives in our society’.[2]

Since the 1970s both feminism and romance fiction have become increasingly complex and diverse, and it is a brave person who will attempt a comprehensive definition of either.  Yet feminism’s relationship to romance fiction, as a female space, is assumed; and if fiction responds to the social and cultural shifts of its time, romance fiction takes feminism into account in numerous ways. This paper tracks key moments in the decades-long relationship of feminism to romance fiction. It explores the changing characteristics of feminist romance criticism and reflects on what challenges face the twenty-first century feminist critic. If Robinson is correct, and romance fiction can tell us about the materials women use to make their lives, can feminists use romance fiction to rejuvenate their analyses of the enduring, separate, public and private spaces of women’s lives?

[1] Robinson, Lillian S. (1978) Sex, Class and Culture, London: Methuen., p.202

[2] Robinson, Lillian S. (1978) Sex, Class and Culture, London: Methuen., p.205

Master class – 15th August 2013

By Lesley Ann Smith 9 March 2013 Research Students Teaching & Learning Comments off

The organising committee of the Elizabeth Jolley Conference invites postgraduate students who have registered for the conference – Reading and Writing Romance in the 21st Century – to a free master class to be held on Thursday 15th August, the day preceding the conference.

The master class will focus on the nexus of scholarship and creative writing as research and will be presented by Professor Imelda Whelehan (University of Tasmania), Dr Liz Byrski, Dr Deborah Hunn, Dr Helen Merrick and Dr Rachel Robertson, all from Curtin University, along with other guest presenters.

This event is free to all students enrolled in a postgraduate course or higher degree by research with preference to those who have registered for the Elizabeth Jolley Conference.  More information about the class will be announced shortly.

Time and Venue:

9am-4pm, Thursday, 15th August 2013

Common Ground Café, Building 104, Curtin University, Bentley Campus

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