• June 24, 2019

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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Edison Aloysius July rojance, at 6: Instead the author was condemning societal dogma, which held that women be ultimately satisfied with the role of wife and mother as the pinnacle of their competence.

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. Radway herself expresses preference for reader-response criticism throughout the course of the book, as opposed to the popular new criticism during the s.

Sign In Don’t have romancee account? Romance reading, in Radway’s view, allows the reader to obtain “emotional sustenance” without threatening the power relationship in their marriage relationship.

Radway suggests that hte allows women to relive periods in their life where they were nurtured and vared for by an individual that rpmance signularly devoted to their welfare essentially reclaiming their childhood and parental relationships. These realistic characteristics are balanced with the admission by those who read romance novels that the stories are fantasies unreflected in reality; however, this is not indicative of the stories themselves so much as it is that the women may not perceive their lives to live up to the ideals present in the novels.

Retrieved from ” https: Radway explains this further with this excerpt:.

If nothing else, Radway argues, the romance suggests first that there is a very legitimate deprivation that facilitates the popularity of romance novels and a body of individuals looking to use it for the aforementioned reasons. Essentially, the romance is part of a culture that creates “needs in women that it cannot fulfill”; rdading, the ability to vicariously fulfill these needs makes the romance a powerful genre and leads to “repetitive consumption” by women p.

Abstract Originally published inReading the Romance challenges popular and often demeaning myths about radawy romantic fiction, one of publishing’s most lucrative categories, captivates millions of women readers. However, if readers are seeking more benign and less extreme forms of romabce they may react negatively to depictions of the forms of masculine power they reject.

Reading the Romance: Women, Patriarchy, and Popular Literature

Building upon her earlier observations about the effects of romance novel reading and the reasons women read novels, Radway suggests that the construction of meaning in romance novels is complex and negotiated between the reader and the text, with the reader bringing their own real-world experience and knowledge to the text and attepting to make connections between the text and their own world.

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

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. Radway questions such claims, arguing that critical attention “must shift from the text itself, taken in isolation, to the complex social event of reading. Radway identifies a general narrative trajectory for these so-called ideal romances, beginning with the heroine losing her social identity and then recovering it through a relationship with the hero p.


However, such feelings are not necessarily positive, as Radway contends that “the vicarious pleasure offered by romantic fictional finally may be satisfying enough to forestall the need for more substantial change in the reader’s life” p. Heroines in the books are often written to be unusual or outside societal norms and expectations and may often have non-traditional careers in which they are very successful; they are also generally “intelligent”, “spunky”, and “independent” p.

Posted by Evan Cignarella at 4: 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.

The women preferred stories with strong male leads, which also reaffirmed traditional gender roles of male strength; at the same time, however, the men were not prized for their individual characteristics but rather for their role in relation to the heroine. AB – 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.

Moreover, Radway suggests that the rejection of some forms of romance books and the perceived degradation of women within them suggests that assuming all female readers read all romance novels is disingenuous. Romance literature acts as “compensatory literature” that allows women the chance to engage in guiltless pleasure activity without removing themselves too far from their familial obligations; the more ajnice reader identifies with the central character the more powerful this feeling will be p.

Reading the Romance – Wikipedia

For example, the reader may repetitively seek out this form of media to convince ths that the romancw and other desirable parts of the romance may occur in real life. 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.

The two are on more equal footing but the male still takes up most of the cover and is enveloping her in an embrace, furthering the idea of “nuturing”. The way that the stories are written also has a significant impact on the creation of identity and the construction of meaning; Radway points out that “repetitive use of the same, limited vocabulary” leads to faster reader comprehension and also facilitates the reader to make quick sense of other entrants into the romance genre by creating frames the reader can then apply to those stories.

They also sought out stories that were unquestionably about women and relationships in which both involved grew and worked together to reach a happy ending.

Such tactics made the romance novel incredibly popular, though similar tactics were not successfully applied 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.


This sort of interpretation keeps romance novel readers from having to guess the interpretation of a text. In this way, Radway contends, scholars can learn not only where the phenomena comes from but also how to combat its negative effects as well as facilitate the latent feelings of protest and societal challenge within readers toward constructive ends.

First, the Smithton women sought out romance novels due to their difference from real life and the escape they offered from everyday concerns and responsibilities.

As discussed above, Radway states that romance novels act as a means of escape and catharsis due to their status as material that can be picked jahice and put down easily. Among those who have disparaged romance reading are feminists, literary critics, and theorists of mass culture.

Reading The Romance: Women, Patriarchy, and Popular Literature

Radway invokes elements of the superwoman myth by suggesting that women are expected to not only uphold familial and homemaking duties but to do so without a significant amount of “reproduction” or support; women, by comparison, offer these services to men p. Reading is not a self-conscious, productive process in which they collaborate with the author, but an act of discovery during which they glean from her information about people, places, and events not themselves in the book.

Nagaranij10g8 M March 27, at 7: Radway suggests that when the Smithton women called a romance without a happy ending undesirable, it is because an unhappy ending threatens their ritualized understanding of the myth; essentially the women want to participate in reading the romance novel but want to be sure that it is not a story that is told the same way starring the same people.

The style, Radway points out, is relatively rhe. In the s, specific brnads like Harlequin were introduced to further facilitate the commodification of literature, consumer research into audience buying habits and motives for reading made it easier to target these novels to their specific audience. This essentially turned romance novels into a commodity, unlike more traditional forms of literature sold through traditional revenues.

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. They link signifiers romsnce signifieds not by historical significance and that specific word choice, but to meanings that resonate personally with them. Reading may be used for “combative” purposes or “compensatory” ones, depending on the reader and where and when they are reading p.

Radway suggests that romance reading and writing “might be seen therefore as a collectively elaborated female ritual through which women explore the consequences of their common social condition [ Examining the context in which romance novel reading originates can ravway more about the qualities of the text and the power of ideology as it goes through this particular lens.