On the closing night of the 2007 annual conference of the Popular Culture Association, Sarah Lyons and Eric Selinger sat around a table at the hotel bar with a half-dozen tipsy scholars of love in popular fiction, film, manga, and other media. Some were from the United States, some from Europe, some from Australia; all were giddy at the success of the freshly-revived Romance area at the PCA. (The second round of Guinness might have helped.) Voices were raised, a pen was flourished, a napkin was smoothed on the table, and an academic mission was set in writing: to foster the study of romantic love in popular culture, past and present, all around the world, we would found a brand-new academic organization, a dedicated journal, and a series of international conferences.
Two years later, IASPR and the Journal of Popular Romance Studies officially opened for business. Rolled out at the Spring, 2009 Princeton conference on Romance Fiction and American Culture, IASPR held its first international conference later that summer in Brisbane, Australia, and five more have followed, in Brussels (2010), New York City (2011) York (2012), Thessaloniki (2014), and Salt Lake City (2016). Our Seventh International Conference on Popular Romance, “Think Globally, Love Locally,” will be held in Sydney, Australia, June 27-29, 2018.
Launched in 2010, the Journal of Popular Romance Studies is a double-blind peer reviewed interdisciplinary journal exploring popular romance fiction and the logics, institutions, and social practices of romantic love in global popular culture. JPRS (“Jeepers,” to its friends) publishes papers on romantic fiction, film, TV, music, comics, and advice literature, as well as scholarship on courtship, dating, relationships, and the consumer culture of love. The “Teaching and Learning” section of JPRS was the first academic site devoted to the publication of peer-reviewed studies of the teaching and learning of popular culture, and features articles on the theoretical and practical issues involved in teaching the popular culture of romantic love. JPRS also publishes reviews of relevant scholarly books and interviews with authors, editors, and other romance industry professionals. Open calls for papers—both for the general journal, and for special features on specific regions and topics—are listed on the journal’s website.
Each year, IASPR / JPRS sponsors the Conseula Francis Memorial Award for the best unpublished essay on popular romance media and / or the logics, institutions, and social practices of romantic love in global popular culture. Essays may focus on work in any medium (e.g., fiction, film, TV, music, comics, or advice literature) or on topics related to real-world courtship, dating, relationships, and love. Conseula Francis’s work on popular romance fiction focused on African American authors and representations of Black love, and priority for the Francis Award will be given to manuscripts that address the diversity of, and diversities within, popular romance and romantic love culture: e.g., diversity of race, ethnicity, gender, religion, class, sexuality, disability, or age. The winning essay receives a $250 USD cash prize, along with publication (pending any needed revision) in JPRS.