1st Edition

Imagining "We" in the Age of "I" Romance and Social Bonding in Contemporary Culture

Edited By Mary Harrod, Suzanne Leonard, Diane Negra Copyright 2022
    242 Pages 36 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    242 Pages 36 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Winner, MeCCSA Edited Collection of the Year, MeCCSA Outstanding Achievement Awards 2022

    In the early twenty-first century shifts in gender and sexuality, work and mobility patterns and especially technology have provoked interest in perceived threats to social bonding on a global scale. This edited collection explores the fracturing of couple culture but also its persistence.

    Looking at a variety of media sites—including film, television, popular print fiction, new media and new technologies—this volume’s diverse range of contributors examine how mediated scenes of intimacy proliferate, while real-life experiences are cast in a newly uncertain light. The collection thus challenges a latent but growing tendency towards perceptions of romantic decline, in a variety of cultural contexts and with attention to the impact of COVID-19. 

    This is an accessible and timely collection suitable for scholars in gender studies, media, cultural studies and communication studies.

    Introduction: Romance and Social Bonding in Contemporary Culture – Before and After COVID-19. Mary Harrod, Suzanne Leonard and Diane Negra

    1. Abject Desires in the Age of Anger: Incels, Femcels and the Gender Politics of Unfuckability. Jilly Boyce Kay.
    2. Love Technologies: Televisual Matchmaking and Algorithmic Attraction. Misha Kavka.
    3. Negotiating Romantic Relationships in the Cell Phone Age: The Jamaican Context. Roxanne Burton and Michael Yee Shui.
    4. Facing the Fig Tree: Representations of Contemporary Intimacy Culture in Master of None. Beatriz Oria.
    5. Open (to) Marriage: Saving Sanctioned Coupling through Consensual Nonmonogamy Narratives. Maria San Filippo.
    6. Aliens, Mermaids and Cartoons: Neoliberal Gender Politics in Twenty-First-Century South Korean Dramas. Ji-yoon An.
    7. Romantic, Transnational and Messy: Intimate Spaces/Cosmopolitan Spaces in Already Tomorrow in Hong Kong. Celestino Deleyto.
    8. Mixed Feelings: (Inter)Raced Romance and the Post-Millennial Romantic Comedy. Jacqueline Ballantine.
    9. The Bittersweet Queer Romance: Affect and Temporality in Weekend and Paris 05:59: Théo & Hugo. Jonathan Cicoski.
    10. Plaisirs d’amour: Love and Popular Fiction in Contemporary France. Diana Holmes.
    11. His Baby Daddy is an Alien?!: Mpreg Fantasies and Queer Reproductive Intimacies in Contemporary M/M Science Fiction Romance. Andrea Wood.
    12. Bibliographic Traces: The Material Book and the Quest for Intimacy in Spike Jonze’s Her. Gillian Silverman.






    Mary Harrod is Associate Professor in French Studies at the University of Warwick, UK. She is the author of From France with Love: Gender and Identity in French Romantic Comedy (2015), Heightened Genre and Women’s Filmmaking in Hollywood (2021) and the co-edited collections The Europeanness of European Cinema (2015) and Women Do Genre in Film and Television (2017, winner of the British Association of Film, Television and Screen Studies Best Edited Collection Prize 2019).

    Suzanne Leonard is Professor of English and Director of the Master’s Degree in Gender and Cultural Studies at Simmons University in Boston, USA. She is the author of Wife, Inc.: The Business of Marriage in the Twenty-First Century (2018) and Fatal Attraction (2009) and co-editor of Fifty Hollywood Directors (2014).

    Diane Negra is Professor of Film Studies and Screen Culture at University College Dublin, Ireland. A member of the Royal Irish Academy, she is the author, editor or co-editor of 12 books, the most recent of which is Shadow of a Doubt (2021). She is Co-Editor-in-Chief of Television and New Media and Chair of the Irish Fulbright Commission.


    "This outstanding edited book is powerful and wide-ranging. It enables new ways of understanding how issues of intimacy, romance and social bonding are being mediated and represented; how they are both connected to the broader social and political context, and are changing it. 

    The introduction is exemplary, offering a wide range of ways of understanding the complexities of contemporary mediated relationships. It brings together a lucid and entertaining array of examples of how, for instance, romance on-screen has changed both before and during the Covid-19 pandemic, amidst a landscape of incels, ‘heteropessimism’ , ubiquitous smartphones and neoliberal precarity. 

    The extremely well-written and edited essays are satisfyingly diverse, including work on romance through cellphones in Jamaica, K-drama romances in South Korea, cosmopolitan social politics in Hong Kong film, and racialisation and the romcom. It is a book which will be of use to so many students and academics, and is a highly engaging and extremely pleasurable read."

    Jo Littler, Professor and Co-Director of the Gender and Sexualities Research Centre at City, City University London

    "The notion of romantic love may be just a few centuries old, but human connections and intimacy in one way or another have always been essential to our existence. This accomplished collection arrives at a historical moment when we have been painfully reminded of all this. With welcome insight and inclusiveness, and with unimagined timeliness, the writers here bring new and illuminating approaches to bear on the many forms our bonding (and our isolation) take in today's increasingly networked world."

    Deborah Jermyn, Reader in Film & TV, University of Roehampton, Co-editor of Falling in Love Again (2003) and Love Across the Atlantic (2020)

    "A brilliant collection of essays held together by a common thread merging awareness of changing attitudes to gender, social and personal relationships, with analysis of the ever-same, ever-changing creative forms of romantic love and other expressions of intimacy. This is a seminal book for our uncertain times, every chapter addressing with clarity, sharpness and wide-ranging scholarship key questions related to the challenges of life in the shadows of the pandemic."

    Peter William Evans, Emeritus Professor of Film, Queen Mary University of London

    "What perfect timing for an anthology exploring the new technologies and stories of romance!  The writers in this collection offer savvy insights into recent cultural remakes of romantic love, shifts that were evident even before the pandemic unraveled our emotional lives and relationships. Engaging and surprising, these essays address the transnational scope of these transitions and the impact of both social and fictional media in reshaping the practices and meanings of intimacy."

    Linda Mizejewski, Distinguished Professor of Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, Ohio State University