Researching the romance

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In the summer we set aside more time for leisure reading.  Pleasure reading time is at the heart of Janice Radway’s classic Reading the Romance.

Radway had interviewed romance readers about the role this practice plays in their lives.  Many of the respondents saw the reading as a respite from the demands of caring for others.  The readers were setting aside a time and space to attend to their own emotional needs (1984/1991, p. 93).

I oversimplify Radway’s findings.  Radway herself (1984/1991) discusses developments that took place since the original 1984 printing  (pp. 1-18).  All the same the work takes seriously something commonly dismissed–leisure reading, especially romance reading.

I have described leisure reading as a reflection of academic research.  I have described it as a springboard to academic research.  This year I celebrate it as the topic of academic research.


Radway, J. A. (1991). Reading the romance: Women, patriarchy, and popular literature. Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press. (Original work published 1984)