Reading the Romance, Janice Radway
Posted by: Sarah Dillon
Posted on: 7th May 2012
Janice Radway, Reading the Romance
University of North Carolina Press, 1984
Reading the Romance isn’t a book about the science-literature interface, but it is a key work in the history of reader-response or audience-based research in literary and cultural studies. Radway wrote about women who read romance novels. What was unique about her research is that she compared a feminist critique of the romance as a genre with findings from interviews with women themselves about why they read romances and how they respond to them. Subsequent research with readers of popular fiction and non-fiction has borne out that readers do not simply “swallow” books whole. Rather, readers (including women who read romances) are active and critical in how they read and interpret books. This is a key reason why we’ve designed the What Scientists Read project in the way we have. The interviews with scientists and opportunities to contribute via this website are vital to ensure we understand not just what scientists read, but why and how. Radway’s classic work showed that readers have a relationship, as it were, with their books – and this is what we want to investigate.