For those of you unfamiliar with this admittedly academic subfield, reception studies emerged from a few related academic subjects including cultural studies, reader response theory, and media studies. I first encountered reception studies during my grad school years in cultural anthropology. The point of reception/media/cultural studies in this case is: Study the audience (of a TV show, movie, etc.), not the creator of the media.
Lo unfortunately quotes Radway’s study as saying that romance text cannot be read objectively but rather the true inquiry is how women engage in it. Out of Radway’s study came the idea that the female characters were placeholders for the female readers. Malinda Lo