New Romantic Narratives for the 21st century

deadline for submissions: 
May 31, 2023
full name / name of organization: 
Esferas Literarias (University of Cordoba, Spain)
contact email: 

New Romantic Narratives for the Twenty-First Century

Esferas Literarias, vol.6.

In Happily Ever After (2016), Catherine Roach argues that the cultural narrative of romantic love, “the romance story”, which consolidated in Europe and North America from the end of the nineteenth century, continues to be the most influential and relevant narrative of the modern western world. This narrative, which promises happiness and personal realisation through romance, sex, and love, continues to be endlessly reproduced and transmitted in a myriad of highly popular genres and formats and cultural products, acquiring an imperative character (3-4). Departing from the persistence and pertinence of the romance story in its multiple literary, filmic and cultural manifestations, this thematic section of Esferas Literarias will focus on popular romantic narratives produced in the last two decades. The overall objective is to explore how these narratives have changed to reflect and respond to the new social realities that are forcing us to rethink the parameters, scope of influence and effects of the ubiquitous romance story.

Articles may respond to some of the following thematic lines:   

Diverse and Inclusive Romantic Narratives: The love stories that continue to dominate the global market are still mostly white, heterosexual and western. This restrictive take on who deserves to love and be loved contributes to articulate, reproduce and validate normative discourses on romantic love, desire and sexuality. We ask contributors to explore popular romantic narratives developed from alternative subjectivities and cultural contexts, which decentre hegemonic romantic visions of love, and vindicate the “happily ever after” for individuals, collectives or communities who have historically been marginalised from the dominant romantic imperative.

Liberatory and Reparative Romantic Narratives: Popular romantic narratives (and specifically popular romance novels) have traditionally been considered as unworthy of study, besides being seen by many feminist critics as responsible for perpetuating patriarchal patterns of domination. Contemporary romantic narratives largely differ from those consumed by previous generations, incorporate liberating, reparative and subversive messages, and thus lend themselves to new critical takes. We are interested in contributions which explore these narratives as both capable of reflecting and generating changing discourses on romantic love in the twenty-first century.

Romantic Narratives in the Digital Age: The digital age has been crucial to redefine (romantic) interpersonal relationships in a new reality defined, among other things, by the impact of social media, the expansion of dating applications, or the development of Artificial Intelligence. Likewise, the digital environment has changed the processes of publication, distribution and reception of these narratives. We are interested in contributions which explore how the digital context has facilitated the proliferation of thematically and formally diverse romantic narratives and how these narratives reflect the new ways of telling, consuming and interpreting the romance story.

Contributions can focus on romantic stories of any genre or subgenre, produced in any language or cultural context, and can approach the proposed topics from diverse theoretical perspectives. The articles can be written in English or Spanish.

This issue will be edited by Paloma Fresno-Calleja (Universitat de les Illes Balears) 

Esferas literarias (ISSN 2659-4218) is an international peer-reviewed open access journal published once a year that includes articles on literary matters ranging across different literary traditions. It started in 2018 with the aim of promoting the work of young scholars, while also including the work of senior and well-known researchers.

Articles must follow the guidelines of the journal and must be submitted through the journal’s website before 31 May 2023.