Contrasting Spellbound with The Stud as Examples of Romance and 'Anti-romance' Fiction College

Both romance and anti-romance hold connotations of triviality and low-brow culture, reducing women to simplistic figures in which to indulge. Yet, for all their critical analyses, it seems inconclusive as to which genre is more sexist. This question may be addressed with reference to authorial intent, but, as Edward Said claims, ‘the reader is a full participant in the production of meaning, being obliged as a moral thing to act, to produce some sense’ , indicating that both genres operate ideologically only to the extent to which the reader interpolates it. This essay will examine the theory that such readings of sexism depend on how the novels are received, using the idea of ethnographic consideration in order to study this. I will be dividing reception of these genres into the passive pleasure readers and the ironic or critical readers.

Spellbound and The Stud exemplify the varied potential readings of the two genres. Both are primarily intended for fast-paced consumption by a mass audience, and are what Snitow describes as ‘easy to read pablum’ . Certainly, today’s commodity culture has produced a certain depthlessness, reflecting Adorno and Horkheimer’s theory of the culture industry churning out pseudo-individualised...

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