feminist theory

I  have presentation about feminist theory by  Radway Janice ,I want to  corrected my assignment , because I was not confident of my answer, and also shortcut all the points.


Organizational Theory ORGC 502


                                          Feminist Theory


I.This week I ll talk about feminist theory ,Janice Radway’s classic Reading the Romance: 

Women, Patriarchy, and Popular Literature 

II. I would like to discuss those questions, and so say something about the political implications of Reading the Romance .

*About The Theory:

I. Janice A. Radway is Walter Dill Scott Professor of Communication and professor of American studies and gender studies at Northwestern University and author of A Feeling for Books.

II. Originally published in 1984, Reading the Romance challenges popular (and often demeaning) myths about why romantic fiction, one of publishing’s most lucrative categories, captivates millions of women readers. 



Reading the Romance is a book by Janice Radway that analyzes the Romance novel genre using reader-response criticism, first published in 1984 and reprinted in 1991. The 1984 edition of the book is composed of an introduction, six chapters, and a conclusion, structured partly around Radway’s investigation of romance readers in Smithton (a pseudonym) and partly around Radway’s own criticism. Radway herself expresses preference for reader-response criticism throughout the course of the book, as opposed to the popular new criticism during the 1980s.

The book continues to sell at much the same rate it did in its first year of publication, having been adopted as a critical text in the fields of anthropology, sociology, history, and library studies, as well as in literary criticism


*Invention and Development:

It is struggle over the romance,Among those who have disparaged romance reading are feminists, literary critics, and theorists of mass culture. They claim that romances enforce the woman reader’s dependence on men and acceptance of the repressive ideology purveyed by popular culture. Radway questions such claims, arguing that critical attention “must shift from the text itself, taken in isolation, to the complex social event of reading.” She examines that event, from the complicated business of publishing and distribution to the individual reader’s engagement with the text.Radway’s provocative approach combines reader-response criticism with anthropology and feminist psychology. 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. Evans defends her customers’ choice of entertainment; reading romances, she tells Radway, is no more harmful than watching sports on television.

“We read books so we won’t cry” is the poignant explanation one woman offers for her reading habit. Indeed, Radway found that while the women she studied devote themselves to nurturing their families, these wives and mothers receive insufficient devotion or nurturance in return. 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 heroines admired by Radway’s group defy the expected stereotypes; they are strong, independent, and intelligent. That such characters often find themselves to be victims of male aggression and almost always resign themselves to accepting conventional roles in life has less to do, Radway argues, with the women readers’ fantasies and choices than with their need to deal with a fear of masculine dominance.

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. In fact, women read romances both to protest and to escape temporarily the narrowly defined role prescribed for them by a patriarchal culture. Paradoxically, the books that they read make conventional roles for women seem desirable. It is this complex relationship between culture, text, and woman reader that Radway urges feminists to address. 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.


*Theories used in Studies:

Romance (1984), which its study the particular nature of the relationship between audiences and texts.

The book takes up questions that feminists and cultural studies scholars have tackled. 

eading the Romance is an ethnographic study of a group of 42 romance novel readers.  These readers, almost all of whom are white, middle class, married women, live in a commuter suburb of a Midwestern city – called Smithton.  The group is led by Dorothy Evans, a bookstore clerk who recommends romance novels to a batch of loyal customers.  She also writes a newsletter on the novels and has strong opinions about the value of romance reading for women.  Radway records several group discussions, interviews 16 particularly articulate readers, watches Evans in her work environment, and collects an extensive questionnaire.  Throughout the text, Radway is very clear that this is not a typical group of readers and consistently qualifies her conclusions.  That being said, she does make some large interpretations based on her findings, and she hopes that others will follow up with more research

Taking the Smithton women and the genre seriously, Radway discovers their reasons for reading romances are quite complex.  While the genre is formulaic, they have very strong opinions about certain novels and authors.  Some novels are very good at offering the emotional sustenance they crave, and others fail.  The Smithton women read voraciously in order to escape the burdens and loneliness of housework and childcare, carve out their own space and time in a culture that demands they nurture others and deny themselves, and to find hope and confidence that the men in their lives can be loving even when they do not always show such emotion.

Radway uses this starting point to expand her interpretation further.  She brings psychoanalytical interpretations to bear, suggesting that women are willing to accept rape in romance novels (under very specific circumstances) in order to understand and cope with the fear of potential male violence.  Also, she notes that daughters grow up with a nurturing bond with their mother that they are trying to reestablish this with their husbands.  They require examples of heroines in romance novels who tame a strong, masculine hero and demonstrate the value loving and caring for her.  As a result, reading is not just for the basic needs of escapism and relaxation; there is a core mythology that alleviates deep-seated psychological burdens as well.  She shows this by examining the texts and formulas of novels the Smithton women both like and hate.



In the book, Radway challenges the literary critics of the 1970s and early 1980s, who focus on the text instead of the reader.  Literary critics posited that the mass produced text exerted immense control over the reader and that understanding its conventions would allow us to understand the power of these commodities over society.  Radway does not deny that there are certain controls and conventions built into a text, but she says that the reader has the ability to appropriate, poach, and interpret on his or her own.  People use books for a variety of reasons beyond what literary critics say is important and Radway demonstrates the diversity of readings the Smithton women bring to the much maligned romance novel.



I. Over the years, the romance is being changed–and the women who write romances have struggled with the form. In fact, the struggle over the romance is itself part of the larger struggle for the right to define/control female sexuality. 

II. Romance writers and readers are themselves struggling with gender definitions and sexual politics on their own terms and what they may need most from those of us struggling in other arenas is support rather than criticism .



– https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HfIRAsHm1Eg

– http://uncpress.unc.edu/browse/book_detail?title_id=314

– Works Cited ,Radway, Janice. 1987. “Reading Reading the Romance.

– http://davidjgary.com/2013/04/03/review-of-janice-radways-reading-the-romance/

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