Skip to main content Skip to navigation


Imagining ‘We’ in the Age of ‘I’: Romance and Social Bonding in Contemporary Culture

Friday 28th September, University of Warwick

A programme of this event with recordings of all papers whose presenters have given permission (the vast majority) is available here

The key aim of this event will be to raise questions about conceptualising couples and related social groups. It will achieve this through an emphasis on the evolving roles and forms of such social units in the cultural imaginary and beyond, taking stock of both novel means of engaging with tropes of romance, the family and adjacent forms of social bonding and new ways of constructing these that respond to, mediate and feed back into shaping cultural trends in this domain. For instance:

  • What new means of understanding and depicting romance, broadly defined, have evolved of late in the multi-media age?
  • How do romantic fictions negotiate newly fluid ways of understanding gender, the role of technology in courting and work and other related, rapidly changing practices in coupling and related cultures?
  • How might modes of imagining children, parenting, family structures, friendship and communities generally shift in response to the emphasis on cultivation of the self, and the erosion of private-public boundaries, potentially catalysed by both neo-liberalism and screen technologies?
  • How do such new instantiations inflect other trends in imagining the couple, for instance in relation to non-normative sexualities?
  • Related to this, how does fourth wave feminism – associated with online cultures and alliances with marginalised groups other than women – engage in dialogue with a genre, romantic fiction, often seen as feminine-accented?
  • How has #MeToo impacted on romantic courting rituals and inter-gender relations as a whole? In turn, how do new representations construct contemporary masculinity?
  • Finally, how might these questions be nuanced differently in specific cultural contexts?

As well as stimulating debate, we hope the event will lead to a critical reappraisal of certain common assumptions about couples in particular and social bonding in general. Our CfP is now closed.


As this is a one-day event there is no accommodation specifically allocated. However, if you do wish to stay on or near the campus please see:

For information about getting to the University of Warwick see and an interactive campus map including Millburn House is here

For further questions please contact m dot g dot m dot harrod at warwick dot ac dot uk

Falling in Love Again

Raja El Halwani


Mediated Intimacy

Romance and Readership

Secret Life