1st Edition

Men, Masculinities, and Popular Romance

By Jonathan A. Allan Copyright 2020
    176 Pages 5 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    176 Pages 5 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Men, Masculinities, and Popular Romance seeks to open a lively and accessible discussion between critical studies of men and masculinities and popular romance studies, especially its continued interest in what Janice Radway has called "the purity of his maleness."

    Popular romance novels, perhaps more than any other genre, explore sexuality and gender, creating an ideal space in which to consider and explore theoretical models that think seriously about gender. The romance novel has long been criticized and celebrated by feminist critics. How can these novels maintain, according to some, feminist ideals, while also upholding what Raewyn Connell has long theorized as "hegemonic masculinity"?

    This volume is an original and important contribution examining the previously underexamined nexus of masculinity and popular romance studies. It will be of key interest to undergraduates and postgraduates in Masculinities, Gender and Women’s Studies, and Literary Studies, and highly relevant to courses in Masculinity Studies, Pop Culture Studies, Queer Studies and Sexuality Studies.

    1. Introduction
    2. Studying the Popular Romance Novel
    3. Desiring Hegemonic Masculinity
    4. Reconsidering the Money Shot: Orgasm and Masculinity
    5. Theorising Male Virginity in Popular Romance Fiction
    6. Slashing and Queering Popular Romance Fiction
    7. Towards an Anatomy of Male/Male Popular Romance Novels
    8. Vanilla Sex, or Reading Pornography Romantically
    9. Conclusion
    10. Epilogue: Are Billionaires Still Sexy?


    Jonathan A. Allan is Canada Research Chair in Men and Masculinities and Professor at Brandon University. He teaches in the Department of English and Creative Writing and Gender and Women’s Studies. He is the author of Reading from Behind: A Cultural Analysis of the Anus and a co-editor of Virgin Envy: The Cultural (In)Significance of the Hymen.

    'Romance novels offer an unmatched archive for the study of men and masculinity. Men’s and Masculinity Studies offers a nuanced discourse for the analysis of heterosexual and m/m romance novels. Why have these two never met? Jonathan Allan makes the match—and sparks fly. Useful to scholars in many fields, this is a thoughtful, provocative exploration of gender and popular culture.'

    -- Eric Selinger, Professor of English at DePaul University; Executive Editor of the Journal of Popular Romance Studies

    'The alpha male hero strides through the pages of popular romance.  Allan’s valuable new book turns the attention of the critical study of men and masculinities to the romance genre, to unpack hegemonic masculinity.  The book bridges fields marvelously to create a much-needed interdisciplinary dialogue.  An original and provocative read!'

    -- Catherine M. Roach, Professor of Gender and Cultural Studies, The University of Alabama; author of Happily Ever After: The Romance Story in Popular Culture

    In this book, Jonathan Allan once again disrupts and challenges conventional understanding and provides a unique approach to masculinity, love and romance. Using arousing representations of men and masculinity as his intellectual point of departure, this book expertly jostles the reader to resolve the contradiction and complexity embedded in the desire for traditional masculinity. 

    -- Chris Haywood, Reader in Critical Masculinity Studies, Newcastle University; author of Men, Masculinity and Contemporary Dating

    'In this timely and provocative work, Allan challenges how we conceptualise and understand masculinity, bodies, sex, and the erotic through an untapped exploration of the contemporary romance novel. Drawing from a range of disciplines including literary studies, sociology, gender studies, and queer and psycho-analytical traditions among others, Allan incites the reader to rethink the overwhelming negative soundbite of the hegemonic male and muscular male body. He instead invites us to consider the ways in which such fantasies of masculinity can be understood as pleasurable, coveted, and desirable. Men, Masculinity and Popular Romance provides a unique and rare look at the intersection of desire, romance and erotics vis-à-vis the hero’s body, and an enlightening contribution to the critical study of men and masculinities more broadly.'

    -- Andrea Waling, Research Fellow in Gender, Sociology & Sexuality, La Trobe University; author of White Masculinity in Contemporary Australia: The Good Ol’ Aussie Bloke.

    'Despite the continued economic success of the genre in our post Fifty Shades world, the romance novel remains a neglected site of interest for masculinity studies. No longer. Allan asks us to think seriously and critically about romance novels and what they can tell us about how we see both masculinity and the male body. Throughout the course of this timely volume, Allan provides a bold and engaging answer to Illouz’s question ‘why is traditional masculinity pleasurable in fantasy?’ Written with humour and insight, this book is a must for anyone interested in men in romance and female-authored masculinity.'

    -- Lucy Neville, Lecturer in Criminology, University of Leicester; author of Girls Who Like Boys Who Like Boys: Women and Gay Male Pornography and Erotica