Dissertation Title:

Individuation and the Romance Novel


Veronica Long

Date, Time & Place:

November 29, 2022 at 10:00 am


This dissertation explores how romance novels present the love encountered in romantic relationships as a catalyst towards individuation. Throughout history women in patriarchal societies have sustained an unconscious wounding to their psyches through the subjugation of their reading and writing, as well as their historical position as second-class citizens. Women rebelled by writing romance novels which women readers gobbled up. These novels have from the beginning provided a safe space to explore issues affecting women and marginalized others. Romance novels, modern day retellings of important myths and fairytales about love relationships, reveal not only the deep human longing for relationship but also how relationships can be a catalyst towards individuation. They are empowering stories that provide not only escapism and vicarious happiness, but enable readers to identify with both protagonists, thus encouraging an integration of feminine and masculine energies, the creation of a holistic androgynous self. A close reading of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice show how working through their initial opposition allows Elizabeth and Darcy to forge a resilient relationship that supports their individual individuation journeys.

The production component of this dissertation is a historical romance novel, Silk Dagger, which follows the heroine and hero, Frankie and Sebastian, as they navigate treacherous waters at sea and within their relationship. While to begin with they are at odds with each other and with themselves, they unite to vanquish a common threat to their families. Through their encounters, they are called upon to see in themselves and in the other the qualities each needs to not only survive, but to become whole.

  • Program/Track/Year: Mythological Studies, I, 2016
  • Chair: Dr. Christine Downing
  • Reader: Dr. Lori Pye
  • External Reader: Dr. Katherine Boutry
  • Keywords: Individuation, Androgyny, Myth, Love, Romance Novels