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Reading the Romance

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Reading the Romance: Women, Patriarchy, and Popular Literature, Janice A Radway. Chapel Hill, 1985. 

Rare. Vintage softcover. Some light shelfwear. No markings inside. Very good condition. 

"Janice Radway challenges popular (and often demeaning) myths about why romantic fiction, one of publishing's most lucrative categories, captivates millions of women readers. Feminists, literary critics, and theorists of mass culture have claimed that romances enforce the woman reader's dependence on men and acceptance of the repressive ideology purveyed by popular culture. Radway questions those claims, arguing that critical attention "must shift from the text itself, taken in isolation, to the complex social event of reading."

Radway examines that event, from the complicated business of publishing and distribution to the individual reader's engagement with the text. Using a provocative approach that combines reader-response criticism with anthropology and feminist psychology, Radway asked forty-two readers to explore their reading motives, habits, and rewards. She found that while the women in this group use romance reading both to protest and to escape temporarily the limited role prescribed for them by patriarchal culture, the romance paradoxically makes that role seem desirable." (from back cover)


"A consistently absorbing and often brilliant analysis of [romance novels] and their eager consumers."

-Sandra M. Gilbert, New York Times Book Review

"A pioneering study of a very important cultural phenomenon. Its methodology should be of interest to any student of popular culture. As to our understanding of the romance, this is simply the most important study yet published."

-John G. Cawelti, University of Kentucky