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Do knights still rescue damsels in distress?: Reimagining the medieval in Mills & Boon historical romance

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Abstract

The term ‘medieval’ and the period it represents have been consistently associated with the primitive and the archaic, and are as such definitively opposed to post-Enlightenment modernity. Yet the medieval continues to be articulated and adopted by contemporary popular culture in a variety of forms, including historical romance novels set in the Middle Ages. This chapter argues that the medieval setting of these novels, rather than merely providing a fantasy backdrop, has a specific function in articulating what the medieval means in modern romance. Above all, it interrogates the ways in which modern romance texts use medieval concepts in the construction of gender and sexuality. The chapter focuses on the Medieval Lords and Ladies Collection, a series of 12 Mills & Boon novels republished in six new volumes in 2007.1 After a short introduction to the historical romance genre, the chapter is divided into two sections. The first section explores how these novels create their medieval worlds, focusing in particular on their covers as well as upon close readings of significant passages. The second section considers the way in which these historical romances negotiate and challenge contemporary ideas of gender and sexuality through their blending of medieval and modern notions of sexuality and desire.

Keywords

  • Gender Role
  • Sexual Violence
  • Sexual Encounter
  • Sexual Attraction
  • Female Figure

These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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  • DOI: 10.1057/9781137283382_6
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Bibliography

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© 2012 Amy Burge

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Burge, A. (2012). Do knights still rescue damsels in distress?: Reimagining the medieval in Mills & Boon historical romance. In: Cooper, K., Short, E. (eds) The Female Figure in Contemporary Historical Fiction. Palgrave Macmillan, London. https://doi.org/10.1057/9781137283382_6

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