Radical Romantic Comedy (Panel for 2018 SCMS Conference, Toronto, March 14-18, 2018)

deadline for submissions: 
August 10, 2017
full name / name of organization: 
Maria San Filippo / Goucher College

Radical Romantic Comedy

In the seminal 1993 collection Queer Looks, B. Ruby Rich contends that, “The advantage of romance as a launching pad for political engagement is that it carries built-in optimism, just possibly enough to move ahead in these times of race-hatred and scapegoating.” Clearly Rich’s words resonate all too powerfully today, and encourage us to reassess the political potential of romantic comedy. Despite being among the most consistently popular and profitable of film genres, romantic comedy remains critically underappreciated and academically underexamined, and still largely defined within parameters of Hollywood and heteronormativity (or, increasingly, homonormativity). To the question posed by film critic Amy Nicholson in her 2014 article “Who Killed the Romantic Comedy?”, I offer my own optimistic appeal to acknowledge the continuing vitality of romantic comedy, in revisionist modes and forms that reimagine and rejuvenate the genre for a “post-romantic” age. Seeking to conceptualize the romantic comedy and the romantic couple (or throuple, or…) more broadly, this panel will focus on unconventional treatments of romcom tropes and traditions, works that disrupt and subvert romcom fantasy and formula and that reveal the realities of intimacy. I invite papers that conceive of romantic comedy inclusively and innovatively, with the aim of incorporating diverse approaches and intersectional concerns in analyzing screen texts that represent romance in politically and representationally radical ways.

Approaches may include, but are not limited to, the following:

Re-readings of conventional/traditional romantic comedies that reveal radical content/meaning

Non-Hollywood, international, and transnational romantic comedy

“Serial romcom”: romantic comedy television series, web series, limited series…

Genre hybrid romantic comedy

Experimental aesthetics in romantic comedy

Uncoupling comedies

Bromances, womances

Deconstructive or parodic approaches to romantic comedy

Romantic comedy’s intersection with feminisms, queerness, critical race theory, critical disability theory…

Romantic comedy in the context of late capitalism, neoliberalism, neoconservatism, political economy…

Alternative authorship and reception cultures within romantic comedy (writers/directors/stars who are queer and/or of color; romcom’s cult audiences and fandoms...)

Counter-normative intimacies, relationships, and communities (e.g. asexual, BDSM, interracial, non-dyadic, polyamorous) vis-à-vis romantic comedy

Romantic comedy’s navigation of identity, cultural difference, and privilege

Please send abstract (ca. 300 words), short bibliography, and a brief author bio to Maria San Filippo at Maria.SanFilippo@Goucher.edu by August 10, 2017. Decisions will be communicated by August 14, 2017.