Date of Award

January 2019

Degree Type

Open Access Thesis

Document Type

Master Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


English and Theatre

First Advisor

Susan M. Kroeg

Department Affiliation

English and Theatre

Second Advisor

Gerald Nachtwey

Department Affiliation

English and Theatre

Third Advisor

Anne Gossage

Department Affiliation

English and Theatre


Romance novels have always occupied a strange state of limbo in the literary world. Decried by feminists, critics, and by the general populace, what could a whole genre of books have done to be so disparaged, arguably more than any other genre? Books written by women, for women, about women should be hailed as revolutionary in a historically male dominated publishing industry; from a more cynical point of view, an industry that pumps out hundreds of books and brings in millions of dollars every year is surely doing something right and deserves more than a cursory look. Yet they can’t seem to shake some strange taint that clings to them. The term “bodice-ripper” has long been used in a derogatory fashion to describe the popular romance genre dating back to the 1970s. A closer examination of these books shows that such hatred is far from justified. Said examination will reveal that so called bodice-rippers are an important part of not only the history of the popular romance genre but serve as feminist and cultural artifacts that can help modern readers and scholars to better understand the position and feelings of women in the 70s and 80s.