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Curtin University
Elizabeth Jolley Conference

Call for Papers: Reading and Writing Romance in the 21st Century


The Inaugural Elizabeth Jolley Conference, 2013

A conference hosted by Curtin University in association with the Romance Writers of Australia

Esplanade Hotel, Fremantle, Western Australia
Friday, August 16th, 2013

….there is no one representative romance novel. (Bly, 2010 p61)

The meaning of ‘romance fiction’ in the twenty first century has become complex, diverse and wide-ranging. At a time when the future of books, reading and fiction are hotly debated topics, the many sub-genres of romance (and romance-driven general fiction) continue to be bestsellers. In light of its continued popularity, as well as increasing academic and critical attention, it is timely to consider how our understandings of romance fiction have changed. So too, we might consider the way in which the constitution, demands and desires of its audience has shifted. For, just as there is more than one type of romance, it is becoming clear that there is more than one type of romance reader.

This conference invites papers that explore the notion of reading and writing romance in the twenty first century. Whilst the genre of contemporary romance fiction is the main focus, we also welcome contributions that situate romance fiction in its historical context, or explore its place in mainstream and literary fiction. We particularly welcome papers that focus on Australian authors and audiences.

Among the questions the conference seeks to ask are: Has the increased connectivity and social networking enabled by the internet and e-publishing helped bring romance fiction into the mainstream? Or have its readers just become more vocal, connected and better able to share their passion? How well does contemporary romance fiction reflect shifts in relationships, marriage and sexuality? Is romance fiction bound to reflect normative social narratives, or can it offer more challenging representations of gender, race, sexuality and class? To what extent does contemporary romance fiction reflect key socio-political concerns such as indigenous issues, ethnicity, multiculturalism or Pacific Rim relations?

Suggested topics include (but are not limited to):
•    Explorations of the contemporary audiences for contemporary romance fiction
•    Beyond the pseudonym: who is writing romance fiction today?
•    The relation and position of fanfiction in the genre
•    The impact of e-publishing and social networking on romance fiction writers and readers
•    Changes to the marketing, packaging and branding of contemporary romance fiction
•    The demographic  breakdown of romance fiction readers and writers
•    The impact of e-readers on the public/private impacts of reading romance fiction
• The treatment of LGBQT themes and non-traditional sexualities in romance fiction
•    Explorations of genre boundaries: the relation of romance fiction to women’s fiction,  chick lit and other genres
•    Cross-genre pollination: the impact of paranormal romance on the genre and its readership
•    The relation of romance fiction to mainstream and literary fiction
•    Analyses of contemporary romance fiction covers and cover art
•    Explorations of the ideal romance fiction reader
•    Explorations of romance fiction sub-genres such as historical romance, medical, gothic, paranormal romance

Abstracts of no more than 300 words are due by January 11th 2013

Abstracts must be submitted online through our conference submission site
All abstracts will be blind reviewed, and successful applicants will be informed by 15th Feb, 2013.

Successful submissions will be invited to submit full papers for consideration for publication in a special issue of  The Australasian Journal of Popular Culture (full papers due 15th July  2013).
(NB presenters not wishing to submit their papers for consideration for the journal issue do not need to submit full papers prior to the conference)

Enquiries should be directed to:
Dr Liz Byrski,
Dr Helen Merrick,

Conference website:
Call for papers:
Paper Submissions: