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 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.

This sort of interpretation keeps romance novel readers from having to guess the interpretation of a text. 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. 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.

Unknown November 19, at Radway emphasizes the idea of a happy, satisfying ending as well as the struggle of the heroine, who often, if not always, lives in a state of weakness in a patriarchal society.

What urge drives women to escape into romance novels?

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

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.

Effectively, the relationship is cyclical. 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 these less than ideal romances echo problems in their real-life relationships. Throughout this section, the conventions of romance novels are discussed. Radway suggests that while readers may legitimately learn things and accomplish useful goals from novels; however this signifies a genuine interest in and desire for life outside their house that they cannot meet due to their obligations toward spouses and families.

Moreover, while the female must be virginal and naive, the male is expected to have multiple sexual encounters to make his transition toward desiring the heroine more powerful. Rradway to citation list in Scopus. Moreover, the Smithton readers readint 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 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 University of North Gomance Press, Reading may be used for “combative” purposes or “compensatory” ones, depending on the reader jjanice where and when they are reading p.

Wikipedia articles needing context from February All Wikipedia articles needing context Wikipedia introduction cleanup from February All pages needing cleanup. The style, Radway points out, is relatively simplistic.

Reading The Romance: Women, Patriarchy, and Popular Literature

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. In romances the women find not only escape from the demanding and often tiresome routines of their lives but also romannce hero who supplies the tenderness and admiring attention that they have learned not to expect.

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.

As the women read the romance which provides them with the ideas and relationships they crave they reinforce existing patriarchal standards which in turn uphold those relationships as valid and important.

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 readingg ones and in doing so effectively legitimize their interest in the books; as Radway argues, “by claiming for it instructional values, they reassure themselves and radday husbands that romance reading is not subversive of cultural standards or norms but an activity in conformity with them” p. 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 rasway reader to make quick sense of other entrants into the romance genre by creating frames the reader can then apply to those stories.

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.


Moreover, by instituting real-world concepts and places into the stories, they create a sense of reality that blurs the lines between what is fantasy and what is not, leading readers to adapt what is seen in the novels to their everyday lives. 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.

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.

So, Dot would say that the women of her generation gladly assumed a role in society with which they were satisfied initially, but once their 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. 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.

Essentially, the romance is part of a culture that creates “needs in women that it cannot fulfill”; yet, the ability to vicariously fulfill these needs makes the romance a powerful genre and leads to “repetitive consumption” by women p. 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.

Reading romance novels is a private activity that provides a dividing wall between the reader and their real world obligations, providing them a “free space” in which they can escape tye a world where a woman with needs similar to their own can have those needs met; essentially they “vicariously attend to rromance own requirements as independent individuals who require emotional sustenance and fortitude” p.