The Romantic Reading Process: Towards a New Definition

Master of Arts
University of Alberta
Publication year

Here's the abstract:

In the past, only a limited number of critics have deemed the romance novel worthy of critical attention. This thesis represents an attempt to counteract and compensate for such treatment, first, by choosing the modern romance as the subject of my study, and secondly, by adopting an attitude of acceptance and tolerance. The first chapter is devoted to an evaluation of the critique levied against popular literature. The second chapter attempts to provide a definition of the modern romance, using the Harlequin Romance as its model. In addition, it examines the nature of the reading process of the romance novel, demonstrating how it differs from that of mainstream literature. It suggests that the romance's process of naturalization is so highly internalized that romance readers will actually misread a text, interpreting it in terms of certain romance conventions. In order to demonstrate this fact, Chapters Three and Four provide a detailed examination of the novels of Catherine Cookson and Sergeanne Golon, proving, first, that they are widely read and perceived as romance novels, and secondly, that, in actuality, they possess none of the characteristics of the traditional romance novel. Finally, the conclusion is devoted to a pragmatic exploration of the proposed theory and, to this end, attempts to re-evaluate the comparable material found in Janice Radway's Reading the Romance: Women, Patriarchy, and Popular Literature (1984).