Reading the Romance: Women, Patriarchy and Popular Literature

Janice Radway

Published by The University of North Carolina Press, 1984
ISBN 10: 080781590X / ISBN 13: 9780807815908
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Synopsis: Reading the Romance challenges popular (and often demeaning) myths about why romantic fiction, one of publishing's most lucrative categories, captivates millions of women readers. Among those who have disparaged romance reading are feminists, literary critics, and theorists of mass culture. They claim that romances enforce the woman reader's dependence on men and acceptance of the repressive ideology purveyed by popular culture. Radway questions such claims, arguing that critical attention "must shift from the text itself, taken in isolation, to the complex social event of reading." She examines that event, from the complicated business of publishing and distribution to the individual reader's engagement with the text. Radway's provocative approach combines reader-response criticism with anthropology and feminist psychology. Asking readers themselves to explore their reading motives, habits, and rewards, she conducted interviews in a midwestern town with forty-two romance readers whom she met through Dorothy Evans, a chain bookstore employee who has earned a reputation as an expert on romantic fiction. Evans defends her customers' choice of entertainment; reading romances, she tells Radway, is no more harmful than watching sports on television. "We read books so we won't cry" is the poignant explanation one woman offers for her reading habit. Indeed, Radway found that while the women she studied devote themselves to nurturing their families, these wives and mothers receive insufficient devotion or nurturance in return. In romances the women find not only escape from the demanding and often tiresome routines of their lives but also a hero who supplies the tenderness and admiring attention that they have learned not to expect.

From the Back Cover: Originally published in 1984, Reading The Romance challenges popular (and often demeaning) myths about why romantic fiction, one of publishing's most lucrative categories, captivates millions of women readers. In a new introduction, Janice Radway places the book within the context of current scholarship and offers both an explanation and critique of the study's limitations.

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Bibliographic Details

Title: Reading the Romance: Women, Patriarchy and ...
Publisher: The University of North Carolina Press
Publication Date: 1984
Binding: Hardcover
Book Condition: Good

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Published by The University of North Carolina Press (1984)
ISBN 10: 080781590X ISBN 13: 9780807815908
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