FOR THE LOVE OF IT: WOMEN WRITERS AND THE POPULAR ROMANCE

CATHERINE ELISABETH KIRKLAND, University of Pennsylvania

Abstract

This study is an investigation of the media subculture constituted by female writers of the mass-market romance genre. Through in-depth telephone interviews with 55 published and aspiring romance authors in early 1983, three topics were explored: (1) the writers' view of the popular romance genre, then approaching its peak; (2) their views of their own romance manuscripts, their work; and (3) the romance writing process itself. For the majority of respondents, previous romance reading experience had shaped the decision to write, and also contributed to such things as future writing goals, work habits, writing likes and dislikes, and the "inspiration" so often cited as a part of the writing process. These women were identified as romance readers-turned-writers who were drawn to a more active participation in the genre not only because of their frequently extensive romance reading histories, but because they see this as an ideal in-home career allowing them to fulfill family responsibilities while earning money through independent effort. Through the interviews and through participant-observation of a national romance writers' group, the study also examined the nature of the romance community as a whole and the extent to which it influences members' views of their work and their situation in a larger literary and social arena. The authors thus talked about their books as "art," the relationship of romance reading and writing activities to feminism, and the political situation of romance writers with respect to editors and the publishing industry. A picture emerges of a cohesive community whose constituents view the romance itself, and both romance reading and writing activities, as contributing to a significant women's communication network that endows professional status and respect on its producers while at the same time is concerned with the articulation of a uniquely female fantasy.

Subject Area

Mass media

Recommended Citation

KIRKLAND, CATHERINE ELISABETH, "FOR THE LOVE OF IT: WOMEN WRITERS AND THE POPULAR ROMANCE" (1984). Dissertations available from ProQuest. AAI8505094.
https://repository.upenn.edu/dissertations/AAI8505094

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