Class and wealth in popular romance fiction

Publication year

The introduction to the volume includes a short description of

Amy Burge’s consideration of the scholarship on class, wealth, and materialism in romance novels—a body of work that spans over 30 years, largely emerging from Britain and America (Chapter 18). Burge begins by considering what “class” means in relation to the romance novel, whether it is defined in terms of a materialist relation to property, or a culturalist performance of class identity. After providing a brief overview of portrayals of wealth, class, and social mobility in romance novels since the nineteenth century, in both contemporary and historical modes of the genre, Burge turns her attention to the frameworks scholars employ to analyze class, arguing persuasively that all investigations into class and romance novels are necessarily intersectional, for it is impossible to consider class without simultaneously considering gender and race—specifically, whiteness and white privilege. The chapter ends with a critical discussion of whether feminist scholars’ characterization of the genre as middle-class propaganda that generates stultifying and crippling escapist fantasies for working-class women can be sustained. (17)