Imagining ‘We’ in the Age of ‘I’

fifty shades freed

The key aim of this event will be to raise questions about conceptualising couples and related social groups. It will achieve this through an emphasis on the evolving roles and forms of such social units in the cultural imaginary, taking stock of both novel means of engaging with tropes of romance, the family and adjacent forms of bonding and new ways of constructing these that respond to, mediate and feed back into shaping cultural trends in this domain. In other words, we welcome culturally-oriented research, as well as sociological, psychological or more theoretical interventions. Early career researchers are also strongly encouraged.

The symposium asks questions such as:

• What new means of depicting romance, broadly defined, have evolved of late in the multi-media age?

• How do romantic fictions negotiate newly fluid ways of understanding gender, the role of technology in courting and work and other related, rapidly changing practices in coupling and related cultures?

• How do such new instantiations inflect other trends in imagining the couple, for instance in relation to non-normative sexualities?

• Related to this, how does fourth wave feminism – associated with online cultures and alliances with marginalised groups other than women – engage in dialogue with a genre, romantic fiction, often seen as feminine-accented?

• How has #MeToo impacted on romantic courting rituals and inter-gender relations as a whole? In turn, how do new representations construct contemporary masculinity?

• How might depictions and modes of imagining children, parenting, family structures, friendship and communities generally shift in response to the emphasis on cultivation of the self, and the erosion of private-public boundaries, potentially catalysed by both neo-liberalism and screen technologies?

• Finally, how might these questions be nuanced differently in specific cultural contexts? As well as stimulating debate, we hope the event will lead to a critical reappraisal of certain common assumptions about couples in particular and social bonding in general.

Confirmed participants: Professor Raja El Halwani (School of the Art Institute of Chicago) Professor Rosalind Gill (City, University of London) Professor Diana Holmes (University of Leeds)
Professor Carrie Jenkins (University of British Columbia) Professor Celestino Deleyto (University of Zaragoza) Dr. Roberta Garrett (University of East London) Dr. Deborah Jermyn (Roehampton University) Dr. Suzanne Leonard (Simmons College) Dr. Maria San Filippo (Goucher College)

We are particularly open to proposals on:

• Narratives of romance and the family involving non-Western or non-Anglophone identities

• Popular romantic writing and/or romance fan cultures

• The influence of new technology on conceptualisations of the couple and the family, whether within texts or as channels for their dissemination

• Masculinity in contemporary romantic discourse

• Romance after #MeToo However, any topic speaking to the themes of the event will be considered.

Please send proposals of no more than 250-words for a 20-minute presentation and a short biog. to Extended deadline for proposals: 28th July 2018. Participants will be informed by 7th August. This free event is part of a series funded by a British Academy Rising Star Engagement Award, also including a public engagement event on The State of Contemporary Romance with film screening the following day on 29th September at the Warwick Arts Centre, conveniently located on the university campus, which may be of interest to some.

The project will also hold a Study Day aimed more centrally, though not exclusively, at early career researchers in March 2019.

For more information see our websiteFacebookTwitter.

Humanities & Identities

Contact name: Dr Mary Harrod

Contact email:

Audience: Open to all