Paola Bonifazio’s The Photoromance. A Feminist Reading of Popular Culture (MIT Press, 2020) is the first feminist reading of photoromances that examines both its industry and its fandom, arguing for their relevance as transmedia narratives in a transnational market. The photoromance, a form of graphic storytelling that uses photographs instead of drawings, reached a readership of millions in the 1960s. Despite its popularity, the photoromance was—and still is—widely scorned as a medium, and its largely female audience derided as naïve, pathetic, and uneducated. Bonifazio reframes and problematizes the “natural” association between this genre and the female readers, claiming that the photoromance is relevant to both feminism and media culture. She investigates how female readers powered the Italian photoromance’s industry success and discusses the photoromance as the precursor of the phenomenon of convergence culture—as in the case of Senso, a photoromance inspired by director Luchino Visconti’s Senso.
Nicoletta Marini Maio is professor of Italian and Film Studies at Dickinson College.