Leisure, Pleasure, and the Principle of Excess: The Subversive Practice of Reading Popular Romance Fiction in the Neoliberal Era (74003)

Session Information: Cultural Studies
Session Chair: Evelyn M. Malinowski

Saturday, 23 September 2023 11:50
Session: Session 2
Room: Room B (Live Stream)
Presentation Type:Live-Stream Presentation

All presentation times are UTC + 2 (Europe/Madrid)

This study explores the interplay between leisure, excess, and the subversive nature of popular romance fiction within the context of neoliberalism and postfeminism. It investigates how reading romance fiction can be viewed as an activity of excess, indulging fantasies and influencing the self-expression, mental constitution, and well-being of gendered female readers striving to balance the personal and the professional. Drawing on Georges Bataille's concept of the "expenditure of loss" as a pleasure-seeking instinct, this research analyses the emotional labor, affective dimensions, and power dynamics within neoliberalism and postfeminism. Neoliberal ideals of personal determination and individualistic balance often acutely inhibit excesses of emotional and temporal engagement in female subjects. By exploring the subversiveness of reading the heavily gendered popular romance fiction genre, this research argues that the furtive nature and practice of romance fiction reading reflects the neoliberal problematization of leisure as a luxury and excessive indulgence. At the same time, it highlights how engaging in this activity can be seen as a form of resistance, providing a space for self-expression, exploration of desires and pleasure, and a temporary escape from the constraints of the neoliberal paradigm. By shedding light on the subversive potential of popular romance, this study aims to contribute to the understanding of how leisure practices interact with neoliberalism and postfeminism, addressing the complexities and tensions in the pursuit of pleasure and fulfillment within their ambit.

Authors:
Aswathi Prakash, Indian Institute of Technology, Ropar, India


About the Presenter(s)
Ms Aswathi Prakash is a University Doctoral Student at Indian Institute of Technology, Ropar in India

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Posted by Clive Staples Lewis

Last updated: 2023-02-23 23:45:00