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Women and Soap Opera: A Study of Prime Time Soaps

Women and Soap Opera: A Study of Prime Time Soaps

Christine Geraghty

ISBN: 978-0-745-60568-5

Aug 1991, Polity

224 pages

Select type: Paperback

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This is the first major study of the roles of women in prime time soap operas. In a comparative analysis of British and North American television soaps, Christine Geraghty examines the relationship between the narratives on the screen and the women viewers who make up the traditional soap audience.

Within the structure of many of the most popular soaps, such as Dallas, Dynasty, Coronation Street and EastEnders, the split between public and personal life, reason and emotion, work and leisure is turned into a lynchpin of the plot. The author argues that these themes are also linked to broader social divisions between men and women, divisions which soap operas both question and develop as a source of pleasure.

Geraghty analyses the critical role of women characters in the families and communities of soaps and suggests that the utopian possibilities of soaps can be used not just to maintain the status quo, but to promote change and influence attitudes and prejudices. She examines the way in which soaps have been transformed in the last decade, looking at how issues of class, race, sexual orientation and feminism have been handled in the programmes. She argues that in pursuing new audiences more recent soaps such as Brookside may have put at risk the pleasures they have traditionally offered their women viewers.

Women and Soap Opera is a detailed, thoughtful and wide-ranging analysis which will become a central work in women’s studies and media and cultural studies courses.

Acknowledgements vi

Introduction 1

1 Soap Stories 9

2 The Aesthetic Experience 25

3 A Woman’s Space 39

4 Family Matters 60

5 The Construction of a Community 84

6 Utopian Possibilities 107

7 Sex, Race and Class: the Pressures for Change 131

8 Women’s fiction No More? 167

Conclusion 195

Notes 199

Index 208

'Geraghty, a pioneer in the field, provides a clearly argued, accessible account of a decade of feminist media scholarship which is informed by an exhaustive knowledge of, and pleasure in, the soaps of the period'. Charlotte Brunsdon, Film Studies, University of Warwick

'Women and Soap Opera is the most complete, deeply thought through and far-seeing work yet written on soap operas. Christine Geraghty's prose is elegant, lucid and accessible without sacrificing complexity ... finely nuanced and thought-provoking.'
Maria La Place, University of California

'As one of the pioneers of the study and appreciation of soap opera, Geraghty writes from a long term-engagement both with the form and with the individual programmes she discusses.' Screen, 1992

'The book is well-written and researched, summarizing much of the previous feminist work in the field... suitable for the general, as well as the academic reader.' American Library Association

'A useful overview of the literature an soaps and related women's genres.' Media Information Australia

* This is the first systematic study of the roles of women in soap operas. * Geraghty looks at some of the most popular soaps, including Dallas, Dynasty, Coronation Street and Eastenders. * This book will become a central work in women's studies, and media and cultural studies courses.