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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Radway puts the onus for these feelings of guilt on a society which prizes work more highly than it prizes recreation, as well as a society that both champions female sexuality as a selling point while still being cautious or restrictive about it in any other context. 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 fadway “nuturing”.

However, women may often feel guilt over their reading. Radway questions such claims, arguing jankce critical attention “must shift from the text itself, taken in isolation, to the complex social event of reading. However, Radway is somewhat skeptical of these conclusions.

That romancce 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 plainly states that simply reducing the practice of book buying to a relationship between the book and its audience leaves out the institutional and economic concerns of book publish ravway distribution.

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

Radway explains this further with this excerpt:. Moreover, the Smithton readers reject promiscuity and other forms of non-traditional romance or love that does not derive from genuine commitment and attraction; they also tend not to enjoy romances involving individuals who are romwnce the main characters or romances that have unhappy endings that reject the notion of idealized romance.

Radway suggests that this makes romance novels compensatory literature because it allows women to live vicariously through a fictional hero whose attractiveness and desirability is confirmed through an ideal or dream male; romance novels also allow the readers to engage intellectually and create a mental space that allows them to continue feeling as though they are learning romanve growing as people.


Through her study of the Smithton women who shared the common experience of reading romance novels, Radway discovered several common characteristics. 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. In fact, women read romances both to protest and to escape temporarily the narrowly defined role prescribed for them by a patriarchal culture.

Radway suggests that while readers may legitimately learn things and accomplish useful goals from novels; however this radwag a genuine interest in and desire for life outside their house that they cannot meet due to their obligations toward spouses and families.

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. Throughout this section, the conventions of romance novels are discussed.

Reading the Romance – Wikipedia

Note the position of the female and the prominence and power of the male figure. Reading may be used for “combative” purposes or “compensatory” ones, depending on the reader and where and when they are reading p. Unlike their husbands, who had not been raised as nor did they evolve into nurturers, romantic heroes were able to express emotional closeness and connectivity.

Similar to Joseph Campbell ‘s understanding of the classic myths and the “hero’s journey’, it is not so much what happens as how it happens; these frameworks provide familiarity and comfort to the audience.

Over time, as companies consolidated and the pressure to increase profit has increased, most publishers sought out new manuscripts rather than reprinting old ones, seeking out original works by authors who fit into the existing publishing framework and providing guidelines about house style and story structure to those they publish.

Citing the works eeading Terry EagletonRadway points out that texts have an effect on the ianice and that the process is not limited to simply a denotative context; Storey makes a similar observation in his book.

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Rather than being a means for sexual gratification, many women used romance novels simply to seek out stories about “mutual love” with heroes that possessed the ability to “express [their] devotion gently and with concern for his heroine’s pleasure” p.

What urge drives women to escape into romance novels?

Reading The Romance: Women, Patriarchy, and Popular Literature

It has simply never occurred to them that those codes might be historically or culturally relative. From the article, it was clear that Dot and her peers rimance unprepared for the arduous, and oftentimes unrewarding, work of the caregiver. Romancce, Patriarchy, and Popular Literature. Retrieved from ” http: 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.

Edison Aloysius July 3, at 6: 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 janixe also create what the readers feel are false impressions that they are reading the books for sexual gratification.

However, Radway points out that despite their varying backgrounds, the romance does not ultimately give women a choice of how to pursue or rafway with particular female role models because society has already socialized them into patriarchal settings.

This is further facilitated, Radway argues, by the fact that the stories are written to a particular standard and to reaving audience that appreciate them for specific reasons; therefore, it is difficult to find examples that challenge these expectations. 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. This essentially turned romance novels into a commodity, unlike more traditional forms of literature sold through traditional revenues.