Date on Honors Thesis

Spring 5-12-2024


English Literature


Creative Writing

Examining Committee Member

Dr. Danielle Nielsen, Advisor

Examining Committee Member

Dr. Ray Horton, Committee Member

Examining Committee Member

Dr. Gwen Paradise, Committee Member


In this paper, I am examining the relationship between the waves of feminism and the evolution of the romance novel, by focusing on themes of sexual identity, financial independence, societal roles, and free thought within the text. The romance genre is overlooked and underestimated, despite it being one of the largest and best-selling genres in publishing, because of its inherent relationship with women. By analyzing it, I hope to educate people about the genre, as well as highlight the key parts of its importance to women’s rights and the feminist movement. By doing a close reading of novels ranging from Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen to contemporary romances like Beach Read by Emily Henry, I will focus on the thematic difference in them across time and how that corresponds with the waves of feminism, using both feminist and new historicist lenses. In doing so, I hope to show how closely entwined they are. Using both primary and secondary sources, I will provide context that shows how deeply they are intertwined and how the waves of feminism build within the genre, forming like stairsteps that overlap throughout the years.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.