Feminist Popular Fiction

Houndmills, Basingstoke
Publication year

See in particular chapter 2, on "The Romance" but note that Makinen begins by pointing out similarities in the debates about other genres:

Are romance, or fairy tale, or detective fiction inherently conservative formats? The received assumption is that they are. Researching the feminist debates within each of these genres, I have been struck by the marked similarities. Each genre has been having basically the same dispute. Feminist theorists assert that the conventions of the genre are conservative and therefore inimicable to feminist writers, whereas the genre historians argue that the genre contains subversive and proto-feminist examples. Thinking through the question of why the same debate was surfacing in all the genres has brought me to the conclusion that no popular genre can be called 'inherently conservative' because they are all such loose, baggy, chameleons. (1)

Makinen includes some case studies: Susan Napier's Deal of a Lifetime (1991, Mills & Boon); Passion Fruit: Romantic Fiction With a Twist (1986) which is a collection of short stories edited by Jeanette Winterson and "these stories all give the concept of romance a definite 'twist'. Indeed, the twist is so unbridled that I would argue only three of the thirteen could even be described as commenting on the romance genre, rather than simply rubbishing the cultural concept of romance" (48); Color of Winter by Lisa Shapiro (Naiad Press, 1995).

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