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Special Issue Call for Papers


Eds. Jodi McAlister and Heather Schell

When romance hits the news, it’s often because of scandal. When celebrity romances fall apart, it’s a scandal. When plagiarism in romance fiction is revealed, it’s a scandal. When Married at First Sight contestants form romantic attachments to people who are not their in-show spouses, it’s a scandal. When major organisations for romance writers implode because of structural racism, it’s a huge scandal. When Kerry Washington has an affair with the president, it’s… Scandal.

This special issue of the Journal of Popular Romance Studies focuses on scandal and crisis in romance and romantic media. This theme is defined broadly, but we especially welcome submissions which think not just about specific texts but through them, to the broader discussions in which they are implicated.  The sociologist Ari Adut argues that scandal emerges from “the disruptive publicity of transgression,” tainting everyone associated with it.  Does this help us understand scandal in romance?  How do we theorize scandal?  What makes a scandal scandalous: is it the event itself, its public exposure, media response? and what does that tell us about romance and/or the romantic?

Submissions are welcomed on the topics below, although all papers engaging with the subject of scandal in or around media concerned with romance will be considered. We are open to submissions from a wide range of disciplinary contexts, including but not limited to: cultural studies, literary studies, publishing studies, history, sociology, philosophy, psychology, anthropology, political science, law, music, and art.

  • The scandal engulfing the Romance Writers of America in late 2019-2020
  • Other major scandals in the romance publishing world (#CopyPasteCris, #CockyGate, #RitasSoWhite, etc)
  • The relationship between romantic scandal and the taboo
  • Romantic scandals in celebrity culture (secret babies! surprise engagements!)
  • Scandals in romance novels (in specific texts, or in Romancelandia)
  • Forbidden love in TV and movies (on screen or behind the scenes)
  • Contentious depictions of romance in pre- and post-Hays Code movies
  • Acceptable and unacceptable scandals of reproduction: abortion, adoption, and unwed mothers
  • Scandal and contamination: what happens to the innocent bystanders who are touched by scandal?
  • The rom-com in crisis: dead or alive?
  • The bastard as heroic archetype
  • The endless romantic scandals in soap operas and telenovelas
  • The love triangle (arguably the most scandalously loved and loathed romantic trope!)
  • Scandals in romantic reality TV (The Bachelor, Married at First Sight, Love Island, etc)

The Journal of Popular Romance Studies (JPRS) is published by the International Association for the Study of Popular Romance (IASPR),and celebrates its tenth birthday this year. It is the first academic journal to focus exclusively on representations of romantic love across national and disciplinary boundaries. It is an Open Access, double-blind peer reviewed journal, and is available at

Please submit scholarly articles between 5,000 and 10,000 words, including notes and bibliography, by 30th June 2022. Manuscripts can be sent to the following address: Submissions should be Microsoft Word documents, with citations in MLA eighth edition format. 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. Suggestions for appropriate peer reviewers are welcome. For more information on how to submit a paper, please visit

Feel free to contact the editors of this special issue to discuss possible topics before submission of an article:

Dr Jodi McAlister (

Dr Heather Schell (

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Please see our Topics of Interest page for a non-exhaustive list of subjects covered by our journal, and our regular Submissions page for additional information on submitting your work.