Women and Romance: A Reader

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Romantic love has challenged and vexed feminist thought from its origins. Judging from the shelves of books advising women on love problems, there seems to be an ongoing difficulty in maintaining equality in romantic relationships. Does romance weaken or empower women? Why do women seem overwhelmingly attracted to romantic love in spite of raised consciousness in other areas of life that is a legacy of feminism? Have women always been seen as the sex which most seeks love and is best suited for love?

These are some of the questions Women and Romance: A Reader seeks to address in bringing together a collection of texts specifically focused on the subject of women's conflicted but powerful urge to experience the pleasure and endure the pain of romantic love. The first anthology of its kind, Women and Romance includes historical as well as contemporary selections, personal letters as well as theoretical essays, and social science perspectives as well as literary criticism of the novel and the popular mass-market romance. Wiesser lays out in systematic order for the first time the varying viewpoints and conflicted history of feminist views on romance, from Mary Wollstonecraft and Emma Goldman to Germaine Greer and Lillian Faderman.

Introductions to each entry and section clarify the emerging themes of each era and of separate disciplines, while representing the views of traditionalists and anti-romance second-wave feminists alike.

Contributors include: Charlotte Bronte, Barbara Bross, Eliza Southgate Bowne, Rita Mae Brown, Andreas Capellanus, Patricia Hill Collins, Simone de Beauvoir, Christine Delphy, Emily Dickinson, George Eliot, Lillian Faderman, Shulamith Firestone, Moderata Fonte, Mary Gaitskill, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Emma Goldman, Vivian Gornick, Germaine Greer, Lynne Harne, bell hooks, Karen Horney, Carolyn Heilbrun, Audre Lorde, Tania Modleski, Gloria Naylor, Mary Poovey, Janice Radway, William Robinson, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Jane Rule, Barbara Ryan, Ann Snitow, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Gloria Steinem, Mary Wollstonecraft, Victoria Woodhull, Virginia Woolf.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
"Does romance weaken or empower women? Is it a debilitating illusion, a form of false consciousness, or the understandable expression of a universal human need?" asks Susan Ostrov Weisser (A "Craving Vacancy": Women and Sexual Love in the British Novel, 1740-1880), editor of Women and Romance: A Reader. Mary Wollstonecraft, Emma Goldman, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Emily Dickinson, Simone de Beauvoir, Rita Mae Brown, Audre Lorde, Lillian Faderman, bell hooks and Mary Gaitskill are just a few of the eminent thinkers Weisser recruits here. "The Reconstruction of Teen Romance" (Sharon Thompson), "Silly Novels by Lady Novelists" (George Eliot) and "Women's Masochism and Ideal Love" (Jessica Benjamin) are among the topics addressed in this thoughtfully assembled and far-reaching anthology. ( Sept. 1) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Weisser (English, Adelphi U.) writes that her anthology is "for anyone who is interested in understanding the conflicted but powerful female urge to experience the pleasure and endure the pain of romantic love." In particular, she explores the collision of pervasive media images of romance with feminist values of independence and self-assertion. Several dozen historic and contemporary works of criticism, personal essays, and letters, by feminist and anti-feminist thinkers, consider changing images of romantic love and whether romance, fundamentally, weakens or empowers women. Contributors include Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Charlotte Bront<:e>, Karen Horney, Simone de Beauvoir, Rita Mae Brown, bell hooks, Vivian Gornick, and Carolyn Heilbrun. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780814793558
  • Publisher: New York University Press
  • Publication date: 7/1/2001
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 492
  • Product dimensions: 6.90 (w) x 9.90 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Susan Ostrov Weisser is Professor of English at Adelphi University and Academic Director of the Bard College Clemente Program in the Humanities in Harlem, New York City. She is co-editor of Feminist Nightmares: Women at Odds and author of A Craving Vacancy: Women and Sexual Love in the British Novel, 1740-1880, also available from NYU Press.

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