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

In this way the eadway becomes important: Throughout this section, the conventions of romance novels are discussed.

These romance readers resent not only the limited choices in their own lives but the patronizing atitude that men especially express toward their reading tastes.

Access to Document Link to publication in Scopus. 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.

Wikipedia articles needing context from February All Wikipedia articles needing context Wikipedia introduction cleanup from February All pages needing cleanup. 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. Reading the Romance is a book by Janice Radway that analyzes the Romance novel genre using reader-response criticismfirst published in and reprinted in 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.

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 [ Nagaranij10g8 M March 27, at 7: Examining the context in which romance novel reading originates can tell more about the qualities of the text and the power of ideology as it goes through this particular lens.

However, Radway is somewhat skeptical of these conclusions. Contents [ show ]. 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, as Radway argues, the romance reaving never challenge the power of male authority and do not take into account the benefits of greater feminization may have on society p.

Radway’s provocative approach combines reader-response criticism with anthropology and feminist psychology. Radway, JAReading the Romance: Taking this into account, Radway contends that the ideal romance tells the narrative tale of women becoming actualized females as defined by society; the romance shows them “how to achieve emotional fulfillment” in a culture where most men are indifferent to their needs p.


For example, the reader may repetitively seek out this form of media to convince themselves that the reaidng and other desirable parts of the romance may occur in real life. Again, women use the books as a subversive influence or source of protest without fully understanding that these books are placed firmly within the patriarchy.

Reading the Romance: Women, Patriarchy, and Popular Literature

Dot Evans was almost 50 years old when the s interviews were conducted by author Janice Radway. Regardless, Radway argues, several of the ideal romances showed 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 by the love of a woman; this allows them to vicariously demand that men become more trustworthy and accommodating to female feelings and needs.

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. 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.

Rather than simply being limiting, Radway argues that this use of language creates a reassuring situation for readers who can then apply it to other romance novels while also creating a situation in which readers can simply devote their attention to identifying with the story without asking a lot of questions or being caught up in the language.

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. 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, they reassure themselves and their husbands that romance reading is not subversive of cultural standards or norms but an activity in conformity with them” p.

Still others may take a more ambiguous approach if they study how narratives are formed over time. Women, Patriarchy, and Popular Literature. However, Radway contends that this does not get to the root of social problems because it allows them simply to address legitimate concerns through a socially accepted and “culturally devalued” space that is still permissible under the patriarchal view p.


Through her study of the Smithton women who shared the common experience of reading romance novels, Radway discovered several common characteristics.

Radway admits that the research she conducted has not provided a conclusive picture of romance 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.

Retrieved from ” http: 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. Women, Patriarchy, and Popular Literature is a book by Janice Radway that seeks to explore the relationship that female readers have with mass market romance novels from a critical cultural perspective.

Continued exposure to these messages also has more direct impacts on the reader.

Reading the Romance – Wikipedia

They also tended to prefer stories written by amateurs interested in writing such stories because they shared a common value and interest in rsading qualities of romantic literature. Yet while there seems to be a lack of quality, this structure is not comprised due to laziness. Despite their intelligence, the ideal heroine of a romance, Radway states, must also be “innocent” and naive to the ways of sexuality and remain aloof and detached in terms of attracting sexual attention while also being sexually attractive; they can only shed this image raeding the context of a sexual encounter with a male lover.

The successful, fulfilling romance janicee exists when the author herself has provided meaning for her story through the words she has written.

However, women may often feel guilt over their 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.

Among those who have disparaged romance reading are feminists, literary critics, and theorists of mass culture. 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.