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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According to Radway, while romances begin in a place of self-actualization and champion individualism in women, they are written by women who have been socialized into a patriarchal standard in which they must be mothering; therefore, the romance does not necessarily declare that individualism is without worth but it rather champions a form of female identity “demanded by patriarchal parenting arrangements” 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. 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.

Reading the Romance – Wikipedia

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. Unknown November 19, at It is for this reason that readers feel betrayed or let down when a romance does not live up to the story promised on its cover or contains material with which the yare personally uncomfortable.

Essentially, Radway argues, romance novels radsay as a “highly condensed version of a commonly experienced process of explanation, doubt, and defensive justification” that also allows women to “diversify the pace and character of their habitual existence” p. 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.

Radwwy 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. 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 not the main characters or romances that have unhappy endings that reject the notion of idealized romance.


Radway, JA readnig, Reading the Romance: University of North Carolina Press. 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.

WGS Summary of “Women Read the Romance” by Janice Radway

Radway conducted interviews with a group of women who regularly read and enjoyed 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, tomance such novels continue to reinforce patriarchal and heteronormative ideals.

Effectively, the relationship is cyclical. 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. Reading the Romance is a book by Janice Radway that analyzes the Romance novel genre using reader-response criticismfirst published in and radqay in University of North Carolina Press, The successful, fulfilling romance novel exists when the author herself has provided meaning for her story through the words she has written.

In this section, Radway seeks janoce find out how much of the perspective and values associated with womanhood in the romance novels makes its way to the real world.

Radway suggests that these less than ideal romances echo problems in their real-life relationships.

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 rwdway difficult to find examples that challenge these expectations.

Because the romance portrays the successful outcome of a heroine’s union as the result of rommance 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.

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.

This essentially turned romance novels into a commodity, unlike more traditional forms of literature sold through traditional revenues.

Reading the Romance: Women, Patriarchy, and Popular Literature

The research and information present in many novels serves to make the readers’ interest in the novels more genuine to outside observers and also represents an opportunity to the reader to learn and expand their intellectual capacity and knowledge. 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.

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Throughout this section, the conventions of romance novels are discussed. Through her study of the Smithton women who shared the common experience of reading romance novels, Radway discovered several common characteristics. 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 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.

Retrieved from ” https: Moreover, Radway contends that most readers view the romance stories as part of a “single, immutable cultural myth” and the repetition inherent in such stories not as a negative characteristic but rather as part of what makes the stories enduring p. Building upon her earlier observations about the effects of romance novel reading and the reasons women read novels, Romxnce 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.

Reading The Romance: Women, Patriarchy, and Popular Literature

Romance readers, she argues, should be encouraged to deliver their protests in the arena of actual social relations rather than to act them out in the solitude of the imagination.

They also tended to prefer stories written by amateurs interested in writing such stories because they shared a common value and interest in the qualities of romantic literature. 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.