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Palgrave Macmillan

Making Meaning in Popular Romance Fiction

An Epistemology

ISBN 9781137395047
Publication Date August 2014
Formats Hardcover Ebook (EPUB) Ebook (PDF) 
Publisher Palgrave Macmillan

Despite pioneering studies, the term "romance novel" itself has not been subjected to scrutiny. This study examines mass-market romance fiction in the U.K., Canada, and the U.S. through four categories: capitalism, war, heterosexuality, and white Protestantism to cast a fresh light on the genre. Adopting Michel Foucault's idea of the 'episteme,' Jayashree Kamble argues that romance novels are a quintessentially twentieth and twenty-first century genre and rooted in the real world conditions (episteme) that correspond to the four elements above. As such, romance fiction provides a prismatic look at the struggles around globalization, 'democratic' armed aggression, heteropatriarchy, and historically Protestant values, particularly as understood by the genre's readers and authors.

Jayashree Kamble is Assistant Professor of English at LaGuardia Community College-CUNY, USA. She has received the Romance Writers of America Academic Research Grant twice and has published scholarship on romance fiction and Hindi cinema.

Introduction: What Does It Mean to Say 'Romance Novel'?
1. Capitalism: Money and Means in Romance Novels
2. War: Patriotism and the Traumatized Romance Novel Hero
3. Heterosexuality: Negotiating Normative Romance Novel Desire
4. White Protestantism: Race and Religious Ethos in Romance Novels
Conclusion: The Next Chapter for Romance Novels


"Based on her sure command of the romance novels written since 1908, Kamble elucidates both 'romance' and 'novel' to offer a theory that unlocks the genre's depiction of ideological struggles involving post-industrial capitalism, patriotic warfare, heteronormativity, and racial anxiety. In her analysis, the romance novel emerges as a record of the most pressing public debates of the last century. Clearly written, equally at ease in its offering of theoretical insight and close reading, Making Meaning in Popular Romance Fiction: An Epistemology is a must-read." - Pamela Regis, Professor of English, McDaniel College, USA, and author of A Natural History of the Romance Novel
"'The hero carries the book,' romance novelist Laura Kinsale declared in the early 1990s. Jayashree Kamble's groundbreaking study tracks enduring hero types - the capitalist, the wounded warrior, the racial or paranormal Other, the ostentatiously heterosexual male - across the 20th and early 21st centuries, showing how they and the romance genre evolve and adapt to social change. Sharp-eyed readings of over a dozen British and American authors situate their novels in political history (Thatcherism, the war on terror, battles for LGBT rights) and the emergence of a globalized romance publishing industry. Smart, insightful, and provocative, this book is full of discoveries." - Eric Murphy Selinger, Professor of English, DePaul University, USA, and Executive Editor of the Journal of Popular Romance Studies
"In a cogent and convincing argument and drawing on a wide variety of examples, Jayashree Kamble adds significantly to our understanding of the resilience, flexibility, and relevance of the popular romance novel. By focusing on the figure of the hero and demonstrating how the romance novel portrays and manages changing social concerns over time, Kamble situates the popular romance in its cultural, critical, and aesthetic context." - Kay Mussell, Professor Emerita of Literature, American University, USA
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