Misreading the Classics: Gender, Genre, and Agency in YA Romance

  • Elisabeth Rose GrunerEmail author
Part of the Critical Approaches to Children's Literature book series (CRACL)


This chapter argues that reading’s association with girls raises a number of related problems. In texts structured by or in conversation with the romance tradition (both fairy-tales and novels), YA novels for girls are designed to generate empathy in their implied readers. These novels mount an implicit argument for reading’s value that lies especially in a traditional, and traditionally gendered, literary canon: reading connects us, it makes us better, it “humanizes” us. Ultimately, however, these novels may provide a cautionary tale for the humanist defense of reading. Equating reading with humanization often comes in a package of conservative assumptions about gender and reading that threatens to undo the very claims that humanists are making.

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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.RichmondUSA

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