Romance and the Erotics of Property
Mass-Market Fiction for Women
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Romance and the Erotics of Property examines contemporary popular romance from a number of different points of view, probing for codes and subtexts that sometimes exploit and sometimes contradict its surface tale of romantic attraction, frustration, longing, and fulfillment.
Cohn argues that a full understanding of the contemporary romance requires an investigation of its literary and historical sources and analogues. Three principal sources are examined in the context of women’s history in bourgeois society. Pride and Prejudice, Jane Erye, and Gone With the Wind demonstrate the development of romance fiction’s themes, yet in all three the central love story is complicated by issues of property, the sign of male power. Jan Cohn further considers the development of the genre n the fictions of Harriet Lewis and May Agnes Fleming, prolific and popular American romance writers of the late nineteenth century who developed the role of the villain, thereby bringing into focus the sexual and economic struggles faced by the heroine.
Romance and the Erotics of Property sets romance fiction against a historic and literary background, arguing that contemporary romance disguises as tales of love the subversive fantasies of female appropriation and male property and power.