Chick Lit and Its Canonical Forefathers: Anxieties About Female Subjectivity in Contemporary Women's Fiction

Persistent Link:
http://hdl.handle.net/10150/238894
Title:
Chick Lit and Its Canonical Forefathers: Anxieties About Female Subjectivity in Contemporary Women's Fiction
Author:
Gronewold, Laura
Issue Date:
2012
Publisher:
The University of Arizona.
Rights:
Copyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
Embargo:
Release after 30-Jul-2014
Abstract:
This dissertation examines the anxieties that the contemporary genre of women’s fiction known as "chick lit" expresses about female sexuality, women and work, and the relationship between female identity and the global consumer marketplace. Furthermore, this project argues that chick lit can be productively traced to male-authored canonical texts that establish tropes and themes that chick lit novelists still grapple with at the turn of the twenty-first century. Chick lit heroines have benefitted from feminist progress, but they frequently participate in a backlash against the advances that empower them to pursue sexual pleasure outside marriage, find fulfilling careers, and challenge constructions of identity. Chapter 1 examines scholarship on constructions of gender and sexuality, affect theory, and Marxist theories. It also explores historical context through critiques of popular women writers. Chapter 2 argues that Samuel Richardson’s Pamela (1740) establishes the first-person confessional narrative voice and a sexualized secondary female character who is punished for her non-normative sexuality. Helen Fielding’s Bridget Jones’s Diary (1996) and Lauren Weisberger’s The Devil Wears Prada (2003) demonstrate that female sexuality must still be negotiated and contained in postfeminist culture. Chapter 3 explores how work contributes to female agency in literature. Theodore Dreiser’s Sister Carrie (1900) depicts a heroine who successfully manages her gender, race, and class performances in order to thrive in an urban space, while Kate Reddy, from Allison Pearson’s I Don’t Know How She Does It (2002), must pass as a non-mother in order to participate in the affective economies that prevail in the gendered workplace. Chapter 4 analyzes the role of consumer culture in female subject formation in a capitalist material culture. In Truman Capote’s Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1958) and Blake Edwards’s film version (1961), heroine Holly Golightly’s proximity to the luxury retailer legitimates her identity. But in Sophie Kinsella’s Confessions of a Shopaholic (2000), heroine Becky Bloomwood struggles against a shopping addiction and strives to define herself outside of the discourse of consumerism. Overall, this dissertation provides an important contribution to the conversation on women’s writing and contemporary identity formation because it addresses literary criticism, contemporary culture, and constructions of female subjectivity.
Type:
text; Electronic Dissertation
Keywords:
Consumerism; Female sexuality; Postfeminism; Work; English; Anxiety; Chick Lit
Degree Name:
Ph.D.
Degree Level:
doctoral
Degree Program:
Graduate College; English
Degree Grantor:
University of Arizona
Advisor:
Scruggs, Charles

Full metadata record

DC FieldValue Language
dc.language.isoenen_US
dc.titleChick Lit and Its Canonical Forefathers: Anxieties About Female Subjectivity in Contemporary Women's Fictionen_US
dc.creatorGronewold, Lauraen_US
dc.contributor.authorGronewold, Lauraen_US
dc.date.issued2012-
dc.publisherThe University of Arizona.en_US
dc.rightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.en_US
dc.description.releaseRelease after 30-Jul-2014en_US
dc.description.abstractThis dissertation examines the anxieties that the contemporary genre of women’s fiction known as "chick lit" expresses about female sexuality, women and work, and the relationship between female identity and the global consumer marketplace. Furthermore, this project argues that chick lit can be productively traced to male-authored canonical texts that establish tropes and themes that chick lit novelists still grapple with at the turn of the twenty-first century. Chick lit heroines have benefitted from feminist progress, but they frequently participate in a backlash against the advances that empower them to pursue sexual pleasure outside marriage, find fulfilling careers, and challenge constructions of identity. Chapter 1 examines scholarship on constructions of gender and sexuality, affect theory, and Marxist theories. It also explores historical context through critiques of popular women writers. Chapter 2 argues that Samuel Richardson’s Pamela (1740) establishes the first-person confessional narrative voice and a sexualized secondary female character who is punished for her non-normative sexuality. Helen Fielding’s Bridget Jones’s Diary (1996) and Lauren Weisberger’s The Devil Wears Prada (2003) demonstrate that female sexuality must still be negotiated and contained in postfeminist culture. Chapter 3 explores how work contributes to female agency in literature. Theodore Dreiser’s Sister Carrie (1900) depicts a heroine who successfully manages her gender, race, and class performances in order to thrive in an urban space, while Kate Reddy, from Allison Pearson’s I Don’t Know How She Does It (2002), must pass as a non-mother in order to participate in the affective economies that prevail in the gendered workplace. Chapter 4 analyzes the role of consumer culture in female subject formation in a capitalist material culture. In Truman Capote’s Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1958) and Blake Edwards’s film version (1961), heroine Holly Golightly’s proximity to the luxury retailer legitimates her identity. But in Sophie Kinsella’s Confessions of a Shopaholic (2000), heroine Becky Bloomwood struggles against a shopping addiction and strives to define herself outside of the discourse of consumerism. Overall, this dissertation provides an important contribution to the conversation on women’s writing and contemporary identity formation because it addresses literary criticism, contemporary culture, and constructions of female subjectivity.en_US
dc.typetexten_US
dc.typeElectronic Dissertationen_US
dc.subjectConsumerismen_US
dc.subjectFemale sexualityen_US
dc.subjectPostfeminismen_US
dc.subjectWorken_US
dc.subjectEnglishen_US
dc.subjectAnxietyen_US
dc.subjectChick Liten_US
thesis.degree.namePh.D.en_US
thesis.degree.leveldoctoralen_US
thesis.degree.disciplineGraduate Collegeen_US
thesis.degree.disciplineEnglishen_US
thesis.degree.grantorUniversity of Arizonaen_US
dc.contributor.advisorScruggs, Charlesen_US
dc.contributor.committeememberDryden, Edgaren_US
dc.contributor.committeememberJenkins, Jenniferen_US
dc.contributor.committeememberScruggs, Charlesen_US
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