Reading the Romance. Women, Piz~n’archy, a d Popular Lzterature. J A N I C E A.. R A D W A Y. With a Nav Intmductwn by the Author fiQ1). The University of. Reading the Romance: Women, Patriarchy, and Popular Literature [Janice A. Radway] on *FREE* shipping on qualifying offers. Originally. Women Read the Romance: The Interaction of Text and Context. Author(s): Janice A. Radway. Reviewed work(s). Source: Feminist Studies, Vol. 9, No.

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To combat this many women pull intellectual value out of the novels, particularly those that are based in history, to share historical facts and trivia with their loved ones and in doing so effectively legitimize their interest in the books; as Radway argues, “by claiming for it instructional values, manice reassure themselves and their husbands that romance reading is not subversive of cultural standards or norms but an activity in conformity with them” p.

In fact, women read romances both to protest and to escape temporarily janic narrowly defined role prescribed for them by a patriarchal culture. The women assume that the information about these events was placed in the book by the author when she selected certain words in favor of others.

Moreover, as Radway argues, the romance novels never challenge the power of male authority and do not take into account the benefits of greater feminization may have on society p.

If nothing else, Radway argues, the romance suggests first that there is a very janics deprivation that facilitates the popularity of romance novels and a body of individuals looking to use it romabce the aforementioned reasons. Because the romance portrays the successful outcome of a heroine’s union as the result of persoal choice or in some cases luckit negates the influence of “social and political institutions” on the role a woman plays in society and what is expected of her p.

Reading the Romance: Women, Patriarchy, and Popular Literature

However, Radway points out that despite their varying backgrounds, the romance does not ultimately give thd a choice of how to pursue or identify with particular radwayy role models because society has already socialized them into patriarchal settings. Radway also analyzes the romance genre, yet instead of listing her own preferences or specific works, she examines the genre by examining the language of the romance novel and how that language affects the readers.

Radway summarizes the history of romance novel publishing in the United States, concluding that economic demands dictated a system in which ideal audiences for novels were selected ahead of time rather than engage in complex and expensive advertising. Radway brings together several of the threads discussed so far to summarize the critical impact of the romance novel.

It is for this reason that readers feel betrayed or let down when a romance does not live up to the story rradway on its cover or contains material with which the yare personally uncomfortable.

Reading the Romance – Wikipedia

Thhe also tended radwway prefer stories written by amateurs interested in writing such stories because they shared a common value and interest in the qualities of romantic literature. University of North Carolina Press, However, women may often feel guilt over their reading.

Radway suggests that this allows women to relive periods in their life where they were nurtured and vared for by an individual that was signularly devoted to their welfare essentially reclaiming their childhood and parental relationships.

The romance genre is precisely that: From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Publishers set out to create lines of novels that were known quantities among these groups, controlling romacne production and creating a set formula that was facilitated by new binding and production technologies allowing for more books to be published faster.


So, Dot would say that the women of her generation gladly assumed a role in society with which they were satisfied initially, but once teading fundamental needs for safety and security were met, they soon discovered their role did not nourish their growing needs for a healthy self-identity — concepts which arose after WWII and evolved as the country entered the social revolution of the s.

By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. Romance reading, in Radway’s view, readkng the reader to obtain “emotional sustenance” without threatening the power relationship in their marriage relationship.

This sort of interpretation keeps romance novel readers from having to guess the interpretation of a text. Unknown November 19, at We know from the article that Dot was extremely bright tge articulate.

Radway conducted interviews with a group of women who regularly read and romancf romance novels to discover that women seek out romance novels for a variety of purposes, including the idealization of heterosexual romance and the ability to rebel against their status in life, though such novels continue to reinforce patriarchal and heteronormative ideals.

Regardless, Radway argues, several of the ideal romances ianice that many women viewed the romance not simply as the tale of a woman who is successful in love but also as the story of a brutish or distant man who is transformed into an idealized mate raxway the love of a woman; this allows them to vicariously demand that men become more trustworthy and accommodating to female feelings and needs.

The goal with these lines was to reduce uncertainty and increase the predictability of sales without having to find a new audience for each book – if women knew what to expect from the line of novels, they would know what to expect from the new one. Reading the Romance is a book jxnice Janice Radway that analyzes the Romance novel genre using reader-response criticismfirst published in and reprinted in Originally published inReading the Romance challenges popular and often demeaning myths about why romantic fiction, one of publishing’s most lucrative categories, captivates millions of women readers.

Still others may take a more ambiguous approach if they study how narratives are formed over time. Therefore, the romance creates a “utopian state” in which men are “neither cruel nor indifferent” nor reluctant to engage in a relationship with a woman and the paternal relationship can still exist p.

However, Radway is somewhat skeptical of these conclusions. In terms of methodology, Radway suggests that analyzing reading as a specific activity undertaken by actual people will provide a distinction between the act of reading itself and that which is being read; moreover, the act of reading alone may have different connotations depending on the context.

Views Read Edit View history. Paradoxically, the books that they read make conventional roles for women seem desirable.

Radway suggests that there may be a lack of such feelings in the women’s lives that drives them to consume such media.

In this way the observer becomes important: This is further facilitated, Radway argues, by the fact that the stories are written to a particular standard and to an audience that appreciate them for specific reasons; therefore, it is difficult to find examples that challenge these expectations. The successful, fulfilling romance novel exists when the author herself has provided meaning for her story through the words she has written.

Radway cites the work of Nancy Chodorowwho speculates that because women maintain “an intense emotional commitment to her mother and all that is female” which in turn informs their desire to “regress into infancy” and dependency in order to reclaim that nurturing relationship p. From the article, it was clear that Dot and her peers were unprepared for the arduous, and oftentimes unrewarding, work of the caregiver.


Retrieved from ” https: Women also often feel uncomfortable spending money on the romance novels though they recognize that their husbands and family members spend money on their interests; the subject matter and imagery on the covers may also create what the readers feel are false impressions that they are reading the books for sexual gratification.

Evans defends her customers’ choice of entertainment; reading romances, she tells Radway, is no more harmful than watching sports on television.

Radway argues nonetheless that the romance has provided a space in which men and women alike can examine and re-examien their “ideal personalities” and provided an way to bring at least some less threatening challenges to patriarchy together in a system that is supported by and facilitates the patriarchy p.

Regardless, by engaging in the reading of romances women nonetheless engage in subversive activity, though it is activity that is legitimated by societal and patriarchal values. The book continues to sell at much the same rate it did in its first year of publication, having been adopted as a critical text in the fields of anthropology, sociology, history, and library studies, as well as in literary criticism.

Reading the Romance: Women, Patriarchy, and Popular Literature — Northwestern Scholars

This article provides insufficient context for those unfamiliar eadway the subject. Moreover, the Smithton women were more likely to recall the events that happened in a story as opposed to the characters’ names p.

That such characters often find themselves to be victims of male aggression and almost always resign themselves to accepting conventional roles in life has less to do, Radway argues, with the women readers’ fantasies and choices than with their need to deal with a fear of masculine dominance. Radway admits that the research she conducted has not provided a conclusive picture of nanice reading patterns, as the Smithton women exhibited both signs of using the romance to reject their position in society and signs of becoming reaffirmed into societal expectations as a result of what they read.

They temporarily escaped feelings of overwhelm and inadequacy through romance novels, which allowed them to embrace fictional women, and vicariously project for themselves, as entities to be nurtured.

However, the reading activity still takes female attention away from their family and their relationship with their husbands, leading them to put the books aside if they come into conflict. Newer Post Older Post Home. Abstract Originally published inReading the Romance challenges popular and often demeaning myths about why romantic fiction, one of publishing’s most lucrative categories, captivates millions of women readers.

Several of the Smithton women identified certain romances as undesirable or inferior to others. Such tactics made the romance novel incredibly popular, though similar tactics were not successfully readng to the same degree for other genres because of the huge number of female readers and the fact that romance novels appeal to women to the degree that they will repeatedly engage in the experience.