Paradox in Popular Romances of the 1990s: The Paranormal versus Feminist Humor

Publication year
Para.doxa: Studies in World Literary Genres

I would argue that the increasing fragmentation in the genre is a result not only of readers seeking novelty but of searching for different romance fantasies. Put simply, different readers seek validation of the heroine (and indirectly their own gender) by different methods. It became evident, as a result of the formulaic shifts in the 1970s and 1980s, that popular romance is not a static form. For example, in the 1990s, paranormal and humorous romances are among the most popular sub-genres; but their internal patterns are so distinct from one another that they probably appeal to different readers. The paranormal represents a return to the past in that it reinforces traditional gender roles similar to those in romances of the 1970s. The humorous romance, on the other hand, both reverses gender roles and questions them. (94)