Workshop and Public Lectures, London 26 September 2014


26th September 2014, 1-7pm

Open University (London regional office), 1-11 Hawley Crescent, Camden Town, London NW1 8NP (Room 2B/C)

Workshop, 1-4pm

Dr Philip Roscoe & Dr Shiona Chillas (St Andrews): ‘Organizing love: a perspective from the social sciences’

Dr Anna Malinowska (Silesia): ‘Temporalities of love: affection and acceleration culture’

Dr Meg Barker (Open University): ‘Rewriting the rules of love’

Dr Katherine Twamley (Institute of Education): ‘An ethnographic approach to love and intimacy across cultures’

Prof Michael Gratzke (Hull): ‘Studying “love” as a phenomenon in its own right’

Public lectures and discussion, 5-7pm

Prof. Simon May (King’s College London): ‘Love as religion’

Dr Tony Milligan (Hertfordshire): ‘The politics of love’

Both events are free of charge.
For the workshop please register by 19th September 2014 by emailing to

FMLS colloquium – Love Today: Interdisciplinary Perspectives

Research Colloquium


Love Today: Interdisciplinary Perspectives

Monday 16 December 2013 3–7 pm
School III, United College, University of St Andrews

3.00 welcome (Professor Lorna Milne, General Editor of Forum for Modern Language Studies)

3.15 Professor Eva Illouz, Hebrew University, Jerusalem (Sociology), ‘What “love” do modern people mean when they speak about love?’

4.15 Professor Simon May, King’s College, London (Philosophy), ‘What can Biblical narratives teach us about the nature of love?’

5.15 tea break

5.45 Professor Lynne Pearce, Lancaster University (English), ‘Love’s memory: the role of memory and dream-work in the production and sustenance of Agapic love’

6.45 closing remarks (Dr Michael Gratzke, Love Research Network)

Guests and colleagues may attend any of the papers without charge or the need to register.

(Call for Papers) The Radicalism of Romantic Love: Critical Perspectives

5 & 6 November 2013

Humanities Research Centre

Australian National University

Canberra Australia

The deadline for abstracts (max 250 words) is March 8, 2013

Why has the message of romantic love successfully saturated our culture? As Lauren Berlant puts it, without knowing how it has happened, love has become a ‘core feeling of being and life, a primary feeling of sociality’ (2000, p. 436). Love is now considered the major existential goal of our times, capable of providing us with a sense of worth and a way of being in the world (Beck and Beck-Gernsheim, 1995, pp. 193-94). According to Eva Illouz, love is glorified as a supreme value capable of delivering happiness – a ‘collective utopia’ (1997, p. 7). Narratives of romantic love, from the poems of the Troubadours to Romeo and Juliet, are associated with individual liberty and equality, personal freedom and satisfaction, and with its radical opposition to conventional social structures.  For this reason romantic love, from the very beginning, was considered a dangerous idea; its connection with individual agency, its disconnection from family, class, social and religious duty, its association with free love and sexual freedom, made it a threat not only to life-long monogamous marriage and traditional family structures but also to divisions based on class, religion and race. Indeed Anthony Giddens refers to romantic love as ‘intrinsically subversive’ (Giddens, 1992, p. 46).  Romantic love is now thought capable of removing social barriers, of delivering individual agency and even social progress. Nowhere has this discourse been more visible in contemporary political debate in Australia than in the same-sex marriage debate where love is the constant cry against the ban on same-sex marriage.

But is love the radical and progressive idea it claims to be? The progressive nature of love is contested by some feminist and queer critiques, which claim that love replicates traditional and oppressive relationships based on sex, gender and sexuality.  Papers are sought for a two day inter-disciplinary conference aimed at interrogating the idea of romantic love as a radical political, social and cultural ideal. Love is an important topic not only for scholars of gender but also of politics, sociology and culture more broadly. This conference will present a rare opportunity for a small group of scholars to share their work, discover synergies and to develop networks for future research collaborations. Selected papers will be collected for an edited collection.

Keynote Speaker:

Professor Eva Illouz

Rose Isaac Chair of Sociology &

Center for the Study of Rationality

Hebrew University of Jerusalem

Possible themes are:

  • The relationship between romantic love and the institution of marriage
  • The concept of love in the same-sex marriage debate
  • ‘Love marriage’ as a means of rebellion in subaltern cultures
  • Cross-cultural understandings of love
  • Feminist, queer and socialist critiques of romantic love
  • Love, state and legislation
  • Love and disciplinarity in the humanities and social sciences
  • Romantic love in entertainment and the ‘culture industry’

Abstracts to be sent to the convenors of the conference:

Dr Renata Grossi

Freilich Foundation, Research School of Humanities and the Arts

Sir Roland Wilson Building 120

Australian National University
ACT 0200 Australia


Associate Professor David West

School of Politics and International Relations
Research School of Social Sciences
Building 24,   Copland Bldg
Australian National University
ACT 0200 Australia


Glamorgan conference report

Timothy Jones writes:

Conference Report: New Histories of Love and Romance, c. 1880-1960.

On 25 May, History and the Centre for Gender Studies in Wales hosted a one-day conference at the Cardiff Story Museum interogating current directions of research in modern love. Twelve papers were given and over thirty scholars participated. Critical differences emerged in the understandings of modern love derived from fiction, autobiography, legal and psychological sources. It was also apparent that chronologies of romantic modernity different in different class contexts, between the provincial and the metropolitan, were resisted by a range of political and psychological discourses, and problematised by different life stages. Keynote speaker, Professor Lynne Pearce argued that the character of romantic love shifted over the course of the twentieth century from being a ‘means rather than an end’ to being a form of self fulfilment that was an end in itself. Claire Langhamer argued that this shift to love being a valorised ‘end in itself’, while marking the triumph of a self-consciously modern ideal of love, also acted to destabilise these very social relations even as it emerged. As Marcus Collins reflected, these conclusions mark a dramatic transition from the state of the field when he published Modern Love ten years ago.

Eva Illouz and Simon May in conversation

Hay Philosophy Festival:
Our contributors Eva Illouz and Simon May in conversation:

Event [429]
Saturday 9 June 2012
Venue: globe Hall

Love Lost; Love Regained image
Philosophy Session
Love Lost; Love Regained

Eva Illouz, Simon May, Joanna Kavenna. Rowan Pelling chairs.

In our transient world, true love seems for many increasingly illusory. Must love be stripped of its transcendental value? Or can we fashion a new idea of love which fuses sacred and secular, rather than one which feels like an unrealisable fairytale?

Rowan Pelling asks Israeli sociologist Eva Illouz, Nietschean philosopher Simon May, and awardwinning novelist Joanna Kavenna what love means now.

New Histories of Love and Romance, c.1880-1960

This event is organised by our contributor Tim Jones:

“New Histories of Love and Romance, c.1880-1960
25 May 2012
University of Glamorgan, Cardiff

Unlike the broader histories of emotions and of sexuality, scholarship on the history of love is still at a nascent stage. Evolutionary and psychoanalytic models frequently posit romantic love as universal and transhistorical. And yet there is an acknowledgment within most histories of the ‘long twentieth century’ that the institutions often associated with love (such as marriage and family life) as well as sexual mores and social and cultural manifestations have profoundly shifted during the period. From this starting point, we tend to concur with Stevi Jackson’s contention that ‘Love cannot be treated as if it has an existence independent of the social and cultural context within which it is experienced.’ As recent scholarship in the history of ideas has begun to show, the close of the nineteenth century saw the birth of radical new understandings of love which foregrounded mutual affection and pleasure. Social histories have begun to explore how romance and courtship was performed and experienced in different contexts, sometimes confirming, sometimes resisting received characterisations of modern love. And new histories of the single life, as framed within familial bonds or considered through the lens of (sometimes celibate) religious or friendship relationships, seem to challenge existing historical approaches to romance which narrowly concentrate on emerging models of ‘companionate marriage’ and sexual activity.
In this symposium we want to bring together the leading scholars in this emergent field to promote further research into the power, knowledge and pleasure of love in the early twentieth century. How ‘modern’ was love in this period? Was it oppressive or liberating for women? For men? How influential were new psychological understandings of sexuality in framing romance? How much continuity was there in this period with Victorian affection? How much did economic, class, taste and regional factors condition desire and feeling? Did changes in sentiment allow for new expressions of non-heteronormative romance? And how did newer cultural forms for the articulation and expression of love respond to, or precipitate these changes? In asking these questions we hope to evince a richer picture of the forms of love and romance in modern Britain before the sexual revolution.

Confirmed speakers include Lynne Pearce, Barbara Caine, Marcus Collins and Claire Langhamer.

There is no conference fee, but registration is essential because places are limited. Please email Tim Jones ( to register before 11 May.”