Becoming a Woman Through Romance

Linda K. Christian-Smith, Author Routledge $14.95 (208p) ISBN 978-0-415-90103-1
The ambitious assertions in this blandly written study of adolescent romance novels invite attention, but the scholarship underlying them is unimpressive. Christian-Smith's intriguing premise is that, over a 40-year period (1942-1982), teen romances have shaped young readers' image of femininity in a consistent and traditional mold; moreover, she claims that the values of Reaganism are reflected, even promoted, in romances published within the last 10 years. She notes further the contradictory nature of these novels, which attempt to reconcile young women to a subservient role while also offering escape from it. p. 6 However, while her findings are based on a ``close textual analysis of the fiction,'' her sample consists of only 34 books. Even these few are cited selectively; Christian-Smith downplays challenges to conservatism, such as those presented in LeGuin's Very Far Away from Anywhere Else . A chapter on readers, based on interviews with and a survey of middle and high school remedial students, offers a disappointingly brief view of their perspectives on and interactions with teen romance fiction. Christian-Smith is a member of the Department of Curriculum Studies and Instruction, University of Wisconsin, Oshkosh. (Dec.)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1990
Release date: 01/01/1990
Paperback - 256 pages - 978-0-415-90104-8
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