Pursuing Happiness: Reading American Romance as Political Fiction
Laura Vivanco, MA 1996 and PhD 2001
Pursuing Happiness explores some of the choices, beliefs and assumptions which shape the politics of American romance novels. In particular, it focuses on what romances reveal about American attitudes towards work, the West, race, gender, community cohesion, ancestral “roots” and a historical connection (or lack of it) to the land.
The dominance of popular romance in the United States fiction market suggests that its trends and themes may reflect the politics of a significant proportion of the population. "Pursuing Happiness explores the ways that popular American romance novels engage such matters as US gender roles, attitudes toward disability, the myth of the frontier, individualism and community, and racial violence and discrimination.
A thoughtful study with a refreshingly topical focus.” — Prof. William Gleason, Princeton University, co-editor of Romance Fiction and American Culture: Love as the Practice of Freedom?