Degree Name

Master of Arts (Hons.)


Department of English


The continued popularity of series romances, read privately for pleasure, poses a problem for those who study such texts in the public, institutional world of the university. Feminists, students of cultural studies, and theorists of popular culture, attempt to map the ideologies, discourses, psychoanalytic readings, and spaces for resistance within the romance. Other researchers and scholars use ethnography to discover what private pleasures readers say they get from the texts. Always there is this tension between the public and the private, both inwho says what about the popular romance, and in what the romance says about the social practices of males and females under patriarchal capitalism. It is very clear, however, that in such public spheres as the university, the media, the school and the library, series romances are generally considered to be badly written, predictable, female fantasies, associated with the private world of women's culture. Furthermore, the Harlequin reader becomes a metonym for a socially constructed stereotype of female passivity and empty fantasy. In spite of this shameful condemnation and in spite of the fact that women's lives involve them in the public milieu more than ever. Harlequin readership continues to grow. This thesis sets out to find out why women readers continue to gravitate to the colour-coded series romance shelves in supermarkets in spite of the fact that they themselves have moved out into the public world of paid work, have a more public voice, and exercise more freedom of choice in relationships.