The Mark of Refusal: Sexual Violence and the Politics of Recontextualization

Publication year
Feminist Theory

feminist scholars have pointed to the congruence of a particular model of romance and legal narratives of rape. As Kathryn Gravdal (1991: 14) explains, romance can be defined as ‘that which blurs the distinction between seduction and aggression’. This model of romance denotes particular forms of character and modes of conduct for its participants. For example, the hero will tend to be powerful and an agent of effective actions, while the heroine will be passive and divided. In particular, she is compelled to abide by a complex code of dissimulation, in which her speech must cover over and conceal her real desires. This code is exemplified in the recent novels of the late Charlotte Lamb, a prolific writer of popular romance fiction. (250)

This article has less about romance novels than Philadelphoff-Puren's 2005 article (which uses a different example of Charlotte Lamb's work).