“Ravished by Vikings”: the pre-modern and the paranormal in Viking romance fiction

Wilkins, Kim (2016) “Ravished by Vikings”: the pre-modern and the paranormal in Viking romance fiction. Journal of Popular Romance Studies, 5 2: 1-13.

Author Wilkins, Kim
Title “Ravished by Vikings”: the pre-modern and the paranormal in Viking romance fiction
Journal name Journal of Popular Romance Studies
ISSN 2159-4473
Publication date 2016-07-15
Year available 2016
Sub-type Article (original research)
Open Access Status Not Open Access
Volume 5
Issue 2
Start page 1
End page 13
Total pages 13
Publisher International Association for the Study of Popular Romance
Collection year 2017
Language eng
Abstract The trope of forced sex in romance fiction has found itself under scrutiny and pressure since the feminist movement, and even more so now as women's media, especially e-media and social media, grow increasingly concerned with what is called "rape culture". A thriving subgenre of romance fiction is the Viking-themed romance, a paranormal-inflected subgenre that invariably features non-consensual sex (“ravishment”). My contention is that the Viking in these romance novels is a symbol of the pre-modern, allowed to be a brutal dominator precisely because he is freed from the restrictions of rational modernity. Moreover, the persistence of the paranormal in these stories marks them as clearly existing outside the general consensus of reality. Socially unacceptable behaviour becomes reframed as part of a fantasy, pre-emptively defusing any criticism that the acts of rape within are meaningful in a contemporary real-world context. The genre of Viking romance fiction, then, creates a more comfortable space for these stories by projecting rape into the past, and obscuring it with the veil of the numinous. Ravishment is accepted more readily when it is represented within a context that is neither "modern" nor "normal": rather, it is pre-modern and paranormal. The genre uses a number of observable moves, related to the pre-modern and the paranormal, to manage the transformation of a potentially guilty reading pleasure into a less-encumbered reading pleasure.
Keyword Masculinities
Medievalism
Popular fiction
Post-feminism
Vikings in popular culture
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Provisional Code
Institutional Status UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: HERDC Pre-Audit
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Created: Fri, 05 Aug 2016, 15:30:41 EST by Dr Kim Wilkins on behalf of School of Communication and Arts