Passionate Virtue: Conceptions of Medical Professionalism in Popular Romance Fiction

Publication year
Literature and Medicine

In what follows, I first sketch a brief history and contemporary snapshot of the medical romance and then turn to a textual analysis of medical professionalism as portrayed in the American digital editions of the Brides of Penhally Bay series. Published over a short period of time, with a single contemporary setting and many recurring characters, the series can be studied as one representation of early twenty-first-century ideals of medicine. It is not, however, only an ideal: the texts take up current challenges facing the medical profession. My third and final section, acknowledging the inescapable complexity of any novel, even the most “formulaic,” explores three complicating narratives that raise critical questions about this ideal, serving as counterpoints to the dominant narrative of nostalgic professionalism. (72)