Added: March 13, 2006 – Last updated: June 3, 2017


Author: Wendy Larcombe

Title: Compelling Engagements

Subtitle: Feminism, Rape Law and Romance Fiction

Place: Annandale

Publisher: The Federation Press

Year: 2005

Pages: 170pp.

ISBN-10: 1862875251 – Find a Library: Wikipedia, WorldCat

Language: English

Keywords: Modern History: 20th Century | Oceanian History: Australian History | Prosecution: Laws / 20th-Century Legislation; Representations: Literary Texts / 20th-Century Literature


Link: Google Books (Limited Preview)


Author: Wendy Larcombe, Melbourne Law School, University of MelbourneResearchGate


  About the author (p. vii)
  Acknowledgements (p. xi)
  Introduction: Feminism, Rape Law and Romance Fiction (p. 1)
  Section I: Enduring Stabilities (p. 13)
    Chapter 1: Consent and Intent: Gendering Subjectivity in Rape Law (p. 14)
    Chapter 2: Desire and Love: Gendering Subjectivity in Harlequin Mills and Boon Fiction (p. 34)
  Section II: The Fortitude of Heroines (p. 59)
    Chapter 3: Victims and the Dis/Qualification of Rape Complainants (p. 60)
    Chapter 4: Heroines and the In/Security of Romance Readers (p. 78)
  Section III: Fear and Hope (p. 97)
    Chapter 5: False Complain(an)ts and Other Legal Fictions (p. 98)
    Chapter 6: Preferred Readers and Other Romances (p. 115)
  Conclusion: Compelling Engagements (p. 135)
  Works cited (p. 143)
  Index (p. 161)

Description: »After decades of rape law reform, it is still being argued that the criminal justice system fails rape victims, that too few cases are prosecuted and too few prosecutions result in conviction.
Compelling Engagements is a ground-breaking work which investigates the narratives of rape law and of romance fiction, and explores the outmoded and strikingly similar depictions of their normative female subjects. These are women who are not only vulnerable but also evidently worthy of the protections or rewards promised: punishment of the rapist or the hero's love.
Larcombe's analysis explores:
* the definitions of "rape" in the criminal law and "romance" in Harlequin Mills and Boon fiction;
* the feminine subjects represented in the texts of rape law and romance fiction;
* the feminised subject positions the texts produce: the rape complainant and the romance reader;
* particular fictionalisations of the rape complainant and the romance reader: the false rape complainant and the ideal romance consumer;
* and how these fictionalisations serve the interests of the criminal justice system and the romance publishing industry.
Larcombe shows how the legal construction of gender and subjectivity in rape law is still working to disempower victims. She suggests feminism's failure to accommodate women's investment in heroines of romance fiction has limited their effectiveness in transforming rape law.
Compelling Engagements is an original and engaging analysis, and fascinating reading for anyone who deals with rape as part of the criminal justice system.« (Source: The Federation Press)


Chia, Joyce. Australian Law Librarian 13(2) (Winter 2005): 41-42. – Full Text: HeinOnline (Restricted Access)

Maher, JaneMaree. »Scripts of rape.« Australian Women's Book Review 17(2) (2005): 28-30. – Full Text: University of Queensland (Free Access)

Mitchell, Marea. Australian Feminist Studies 21(49) (March 2006): 121-122. – Full Text: Ingenta Connect (Restricted Access), Taylor & Francis Online (Restricted Access)

Wikipedia: History of Oceania: History of Australia | Law: Laws regarding rape | Literature: Australian literature | Rape in Australia