Foundations of Interdisciplinary Love Studies in Higher Education
An edited volume by Stephanie Y. Evans, PhD
CALL FOR PAPERS: Book Chapters
DUE: March 1, 2014 Please forward to all lists
Please forward to all lists
Submissions are being accepted for an edited volume on interdisciplinary love studies. The deadline for full book chapters for Researching Love: Foundations of Interdisciplinary Love Studies in Higher Education is March 1, 2014.
In Researching Love: Foundations of Interdisciplinary Love Studies in Higher Education Stephanie Evans proposes a comprehensive, interdisciplinary, and international research agenda on the topic of love. Much like critical race studies, women’s/gender studies, and peace studies, “love studies” emerges from a desire to more closely analyze human rights and civil rights, environmental sustainability, ecological phenomena, scientific knowledge, and spiritual understanding while embracing a praxis model. In this edited volume, Evans presents an argument for the formal creation and development of interdisciplinary love studies. Building on prior research in a way that codifies intellectual trends and offers direction for future work, Evans defines love studies as a critical convergence of scholarly research about expression and relationships of love on four levels: self love, intimate love, social love, and universal love. This collection expands discussion about theories and methodologies of how to research the topic of love and also presents examples of foundational research and investigations by current scholars. The work will present a variety of answers about love, addressing question types ranging from description and analysis to application and evaluation.
Though past and present scholarship from a variety of fields has addressed parts of this agenda, a clearly outlined conceptual framework is needed to produce a comprehensive and interconnected body of work. In order to adequately advance our collective understanding about love in all its dimensions, scholars from different academic disciplines must emerge from their disciplinary silos to exchange perspectives and learn from each other in a purposeful way. Researching the topic of love from antiquity to the present is a monumental project that can only be conducted in any depth through collaborative work. Grounded in a need to analyze all four levels of relationship and social location (micro, meso, macro, and global/universal), and recognizing the breadth of relevant issues, Evans asserts interdisciplinarity is the most viable tool to engage all angles of the topic. Here, social love denotes the relationship to one type or group of people, while universal love indicates a broader sense of what has been called “unlimited love” more closely related to holistic spiritual or philosophical positions. Distinctions have also been made between types of love including philia (brotherly love), storge (natural love), eros (romantic love), or thelema (lustful love) but a survey of current work shows self love is vastly understudied compared to sexual or romantic love and a typology designating the relationship of different levels of love needs to be more fully developed.
Defining love requires a close look at the multitude of existing definitions. This collection will advance discourses by posing and addressing questions regarding the continuum, boundaries, and constitution of love. Several academic networks of love researchers have developed over the past decades, some in the United States or Europe in a movement begun at the start of the 21st century. Researching Love will engage and advance current efforts and expand the range of ways to study and understand the multitude of ways love is expressed. Researching Love emerges with an explicitly international agenda from the outset, seeking to foster a transnational and cross-cultural intellectual exchange on the subject that bridges past and present work on the multiple meanings of love.
A multitude of research on love has already been published, but it has not been conducted within an intellectually cohesive plan of study. Love has been termed altruism, forgiveness, friendship, romance, lust, and been called by many other names, but a system of coding and formal study has not been established. Disciplinary approaches have captured several important aspects of love and relationship: biological or chemical reactions, psychological experience, cross-nation political responses to world war, religious commitments and altruism, identity choices, social constraints of options to express love, or familial and community connections. Scholarly journal articles have presented a variant and fascinating range of topics from journalistic critiques of love in art (1856), theological exegeses of agape in the Bible (1902) and American Indian love lyrics (1926) to a research agenda for applied peace studies (1971), global versus national approaches to peace research (1975), interrogations of love work by Virgil (1993) and Chaucer (1996) and cross-generational anxieties to passionate love (2013). A perusal of the list of authors on this topic literally takes us around the world (see bibliography below). Yet, we have not exhausted all knowledge: with this volume, Evans claims that love studies is the new academic frontier.
An interdisciplinary approach can significantly enhance the value of disciplinary perspectives. As a field, peace studies and race/gender studies offer the closest and most recent models for love studies. Peace studies is dedicated to pragmatic solutions, with particular attention to conflict resolution. Peace Studies and Conflict Resolution graduate programs are significant models of praxis research: as of June 2013, about 17 universities in the United States, England, Sweden, Australia, New Zealand, and Thailand offer the PhD in the field and MA degrees can be found at 47 institutions worldwide including the above locations and Costa Rica, Ireland, Switzerland, Spain, Serbia, Austria, and Israel. However, a review of current Peace Studies and Conflict Resolution graduate programs reveals a necessary focus on large-scale structural issues of law or inter-governmental negotiations. Similarly, race and gender study programs concentrate on problem-solving research agendas that address socialized or institutionalized violence; there are a growing number of doctoral studies in those critical areas as well with 52 PhD women’s studies degree and 414 African American, Asian, Latino, Jewish, Middle Eastern or Native American Studies PhD degree programs. There are 249 doctoral programs in Religious Studies expanding the options of how to investigate human relationships. A concerted effort must be made to bridge dialogue between humanities, social sciences, STEM, and professional training.
As an interdisciplinary area of inquiry within various fields, love studies can significantly expand the range of both disciplinary and interdisciplinary programs and increase interest in research by non-academics. The study of love will add dimension to studies of social justice, domination, oppression, indifference, and power by locating dynamics in social relations where love intervenes or lack of love leads to injustice. For example, studying love can impact definitions and approaches to issues of domestic violence and sex trafficking, police brutality, gun violence, terrorism, media and marketing, environmental treatment, marriage laws, and numerous international policy negotiations. Clearly, it is imperative to define terms in personal, cultural, national, and international relationship building. Informed communication can advance or derail conflict negotiations at any point. Producing scholarship that helps academics, practitioners, policy makers, and activists better understand different definitions of or assumptions about love can play a vital role in enhancing communication in one’s backyard, in the statehouse, or across oceans.
Given the historical body of research that includes comparative literature, animal studies, psychology, and international relations, love is a messy, difficult, and delicate topic that presents questions to sustain countless generations of future scholars. For example, curious students might ask:
By addressing theories of compassion, connection, or disconnection into debates about ideas and power, the investigation of love can shift the tone of any scholarly discussion or topic of interest. For example, with a micro, meso, macro, and global lens, a study of love in Black men’s music might include such vastly different players as Ru Paul (self love), Marvin Gaye (intimate love), Fela Kuti (social love) and Bob Marley (universal love). This research agenda has deep implications for race, gender, cultural, and communication studies but also for professional fields of health, law, social work, business, and education. Variant types of research will be welcome in the collection including theoretical, empirical, and applied; both qualitative and quantitative studies will be accepted.
There are ample studies of war and militarism, oppression and abuse, genocide and suicide. A concentrated study on the love or absence of love can advance our understanding of the existence of inequality and provide a new pathway to offer social justice interventions. Xenophobia, fear, and hate are pervasive; perhaps we will better understand and eradicate the effects of hate when we take seriously the imperative to formally study love. However, love studies provides the much-needed opportunity to define relations beyond conflict and antagonism. Through love studies we might research far flung issues of holidays like Valentine’s Day or Mother’s Day, comprehensive and comparative mammalian behavioral studies, family care, theoretical grounds of the social work profession, or interfaith collaboration in an organized and meaningful way. The interdisciplinary approach to love research brings unlimited opportunity to gather and interpret data to improve our understanding and, perhaps, to alter our attitudes, behaviors, and choices about relationships with ourselves and others. As editor of this text, Evans intimates that participants in this love studies collaborative can positively impact the world through problem-solving inquiry in the scholar-activist tradition.
Given the pervasiveness of the concept of “love” one would think “love studies” would already be fully developed. Not so. While there is a vast amount of research about love and several organizations exist, including the Institute for Research on Unlimited Love (founded in 2001 by a Stony Brook University medical professor), and the Love Studies Network (Developed in England in 2012 and housed at St. Andrews University), there is not a comprehensive set of inclusive scholarship that is international, interdisciplinary, and that covers historical and contemporary research. Certainly, scholars from all cultures in all times have espoused ideas about love, but a formal concentration in the area is missing. This book will expand the academic landscape and will promote a series of ongoing conference discussions in the formalization of the area of research designed for institutionalization within academe. Evans offers a theoretical and methodological framework to proceed and gathers current work to constitute the forefront of future studies.
The book will be comprised of both invited chapters by those researchers who have published seminal works on the topic of love and an open call for new research.
Submit complete chapters to Dr. Stephanie Y. Evans firstname.lastname@example.org by March 1, 2014
* Format document in Word, 12” font, double space, and length should be no more than 5,000 words including notes. Citation: Chicago style.
* Prepare manuscript for blind review (no identifying references in the text). Submit separate cover page with contact information.
* Label work for consideration in one of five sections: Theories and Methodologies of Interdisciplinary Love Studies; Self Love; Intimate Love; Social Love; or Universal Love.
* Previously published or simultaneous submissions will not be accepted; however, existing research reworked for this specific collection will be welcome.
Those submitting proposals might consider the following reading as a starting place for possible references: