Thursday, January 19, 2012

Reading into Romance

Upon reading both Radway's article and Gill's explanation of Audience Studies, I found myself focusing in on four main points from the two articles: the "escape" of reading romance novels, the freedom of reading books rather than watching TV, romance versus lust, and the relationship between Radway and the subjects of her study.
1. The sense of "escape" that the women who read romance novels feel when they are immersed into a story. The women take on the role of the heroine and enjoy their new found strong personality as well as their passivity to the masculine hero. Personally, this just seems like an adult version of any Disney story! However, I must say that this "escape" that the readers feel is one that I have felt before while reading a great novel. You, the reader, are lured in by the words of the author and the excitement of being "in" an adventure that you cannot experience in reality.
2. I was taken back by the comments made by some of the Smithton readers that they feel guilty watching TV, but reading a leisure book is alright because it is educational. There are many shows on television, especially soap operas, that have the same story lines and fantasies that are played out in romance novels. It seemed silly to think that they felt bad about spending thirty minutes watching a show, but they don't feel bad spending thirty minutes reading a book?...
3. I found myself at times wondering whether the author and readers were viewing the stories as romantic or lustful. While there is a very slim distinction between the two, the difference is pretty great. Gill points out that women are trying to achieve self-gratification by reading these novels, but isn't lust a desire for self-gratification? So that brings me to the original question...are they conversing about romance or lust?
4. One of the critiques about Radway that is mentioned in the book is that there is a clear "stark and hierarchical" distinction that Radway makes between herself and the readers. I agree with this statement completely and found it baffling that a scholar writing about feminist studies and equality would be so quick to assume that the women reading romance novels are just minimally educated housewives.

While reading the article, I immediately thought about this Friends clip where Joey finds Rachel's romance novel and demands that she is reading porn. Which just brings up the point again of the difference between romance and lust.

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