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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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.

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 rawday capacity and knowledge.

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. 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.

The romance teaches women how to live in a patriarchal society and “displays the remarkable benefits of rhe p.

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 notices that the tbe make assumptions about authorial intent when it comes to the words written within the book, believing that the author chooses words that mean what they say they mean; as a result they are not skeptical about the words chosen or what they may represent or the significance that the author themselves assigns to a word as a signifier.

The successful, fulfilling romance novel exists when the author herself has provided meaning for her story through the words she has written. The jjanice 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 readinv in relation to the heroine. However, if readers are seeking more benign and less extreme forms of masculinity they may react negatively to depictions of the forms of masculine power they reject.

It is this complex relationship between culture, text, and woman reader that Radway urges feminists to address. In a new introduction, Janice Radway jznice the book within the context janicw current scholarship and offers both an explanation and critique of the study’s limitations.

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

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

University of North Carolina Press, The romance genre is precisely that: 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 readiing romance. 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.

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 up and put down easily. 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 jwnice if women knew what to expect from the line of novels, they would know what to expect from the new one.

February Learn how and when to remove this template message. Building roomance her earlier observations about the effects of romance novel reading and the reasons women romace novels, Radway suggests that the construction of meaning in romance novels is janic and negotiated between the reader and the text, with the reader ravway their own real-world experience and knowledge to the text and attepting to make connections between the text and their own world.

Radway concludes by encouraging feminists to look more deeply at the causes and outcomes of romance consumption among the female audience while also examining how the romance gratifies needs and desires that are created by contemporary society.

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

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However, Radway is somewhat skeptical of these conclusions. 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, 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.

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 into a world where a woman with needs similar to their own can have those romanc met; essentially they “vicariously attend to their own requirements as romaance individuals who require emotional sustenance and fortitude” p. 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.


Evans defends her customers’ choice of entertainment; reading romances, she tells Radway, is no more harmful than watching sports on television.

Moreover, the Smithton women were more likely to recall the events that happened in a story as opposed to the characters’ names p. Radway’s provocative approach combines reader-response criticism with anthropology and feminist psychology.

Unlike their husbands, who had not been raised as nor erading they evolve into nurturers, romantic heroes were able to express emotional closeness and connectivity.

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.

Reading the Romance is a book by Janice Radway that analyzes the Romance novel genre using reader-response criticismfirst published in and reprinted in Radway herself expresses preference for reader-response criticism throughout the course of the book, as opposed to the popular new criticism during the s. 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.

Reading The Romance: Women, Patriarchy, and Popular Literature

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 janie distribution. They also sought out stories that were unquestionably about women and relationships in which both involved grew and worked together to reach a happy deading. This too would explain why so many of the readers admitted to reading the last page first – they wanted to be sure that the story upheld its bargain in upkeeping the valorous or mythic elements they were used to.

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. 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. Women, Patriarchy, and Popular Literature.