In defence of reading trash: feminists reading the romance

Deborah Philips

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    In Cultural Populism, McGuigan argues that in British cultural studies ‘there is populist sentiment, but hardly any ‘sentimentality’ is discernible ’ (McGuigan, p. 13). I want to argue that there was then, and there remains, an arena of British cultural studies that has always been concerned with ‘sentimentality ’ – and that is the romance narrativeTo pay serious attention to popular forms is not necessarily to celebrate them or to, as McGuigan suggests, witheringly, to ‘affect a disingenuous solidarity with ordinary people and their preferences’ (McGuigan, p. 77). While, as Fay Weldon advocated, ‘knowing popular fictions for what they are’ is a necessary strategy, it is important to ignore her advice and to take them seriously. These texts articulate significant discourses, they make widespread anxieties and aspirations visible, and cultural critics need to pay close attention to what they have to tell us.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalEuropean Journal of Cultural Studies
    Publication statusAccepted/In press - 15 Mar 2019


    • romance fiction
    • feminism
    • Birmingham Centre for cultural Studies


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