Love is currently being explored in the academy beyond popular cultural and gender studies, in literary studies, philosophy, law, politics, social science, and psychology. It includes a revaluing and deeper understanding of the complexity and sophistication of love, including but not limited to romantic love, and its cultural expression. Love Studies looks at the multiple ways love has shaped our ways of being and knowing, and it goes beyond these ideas to explore love and desire in intimate relationships, and how love shapes and is shaped in diverse dynamics and domains, both public and private, and across the lifespan.
Love is certainly in the air at Edith Cowan University in Western Australia. In the School of Arts and Humanities I’m part of a growing group of researchers working in the field of Love Studies. Associate Professor Debra Dudek (Literary Studies), Dr Madalena Grobbelaar (Psychology, Psychosexual Therapy) and me, Dr Elizabeth Reid Boyd (Social Science/Creative Writing) invited staff to our first symposium ‘What’s Love Got to Do with It?’ for Valentine’s Day 2021.
One of our first Love Studies publications is part of the collection New Frontiers in Popular Romance: Essays on the Genre in the 21st Century (McFarland, 2022) edited by Susan Fanetti. Entitled ‘Tingles and Shivers: First Kisses and Intimate Civility in Eliza Redgold’s Historical Harlequin Romances Pre- and Post-#MeToo’ our chapter explores how post #MeToo issues of consent have come to the forefront in everyday life and in the romance genre. We analyse four Historical Harlequin romance novels written by me as Eliza Redgold—two published before and two published after #MeToo—and argue that these four novels can serve as a case study for how #MeToo informs the representation of desire.
In 2023, we were thrilled to announce the publication of Contemporary Love Studies in the Arts and Humanities: What’s Love Got to do with It? (Palgrave Macmillan) a collection of essays co-edited by Madalena Grobbelaar, Debra Dudek and me (Elizabeth Reid Boyd). This edited book demonstrates how love both unites and separates academic thinking across the arts and humanities, and beyond: from popular romance studies to border criminology, from sexology to peace studies, and into the fields of health, medicine, and engineering. This book is both a reflection and a call for a greater understanding of the complexity and importance of love in our lives, and in our world. The introduction to the book is available here.
When I first started writing fiction as a romantic academic, Love Studies was beyond my imagination. As it turns out: happy endings do happen!
Contemporary Love Studies in the Arts and Humanities: What’s Love Got To Do With It? is out now with Palgrave Macmillan (2023).