Romantic Rituals: ‘Making Love’ in Europe c.1100-1800 – Call For Papers

Romantic Rituals: ‘Making Love’ in Europe c.1100-1800
The University of Adelaide
4 July, 2016

Contact: Katie Barclay ( and Sally Holloway (

Convenors: Katie Barclay and Sally Holloway

Keynote: Clara Tuite (The University of Melbourne)

The study of romantic love continues to grow apace, with the foundation of the Love Research Cluster at the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for the History of Emotions and the Love Research Network at the University of Hull. An increasing number of works including Simon May’s Love: A History (2011), Katie Barclay’s Love, Intimacy and Power (2011) and William Reddy’s The Making of Romantic Love (2012) have scrutinised the historical, literary and philosophical dimensions of romantic emotion.

This one-day workshop will focus on the changing rituals shaping romantic relationships in Europe. The linguistic, material and emotional dimensions of ‘making love’ – meaning to court or woo – evolved significantly over the period from c.1100-1800. By the eighteenth century, Samuel Johnson’s Dictionary of the English Language (1755) described suitors embarking on ‘lovesuits’ using ‘lovetricks’ and ‘lovetoys’ which mediated the expression, understanding and hence the experience of love itself.

We invite papers that explore the customs of falling and staying in love through love letters, love songs, valentines, romantic gifts and similar ritual exchanges. These transactions are documented at length in letters, diaries, literature (including romances, fairy tales and novels), ballads, court records and extant objects. Our aim is to discover how men and women negotiated the process of falling in love, and how this varied according to gender, rank, region, and over time. A study of romantic love must also explore the contexts in which the rituals of romantic love were appropriate, in some contexts expanding the traditional boundaries of love between courting men and women to illicit love, romantic love within friendship, and romantic love as a religious connection to God. Papers that expand our understanding or interrogate the boundaries of romantic love in history are particularly welcome.

Abstracts of no more than 250 words, and a short bio, should be emailed to both Katie Barclay, ( and Sally Holloway ( by 1 February, 2016. Questions or queries can also be addressed to the above.