Written By Women, For Women, About Women: Chick Lit and Why We Should Study It
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This thesis will make a case for chick lit as a viable site for academic analysis, particularly in relation to feminist debates and the study of popular culture. In this first chapter I explore the genre’s significance in relation to the study and criticism of contemporary literature, and I examine chick lit’s commercial success alongside the conflicting responses it generates from literary scholars. Following on from this I assess chick lit’s relationship with feminism, with a particular focus on postfeminism, and situate chick lit alongside the dominant sociocultural and ideological contexts of the late 1990s and early 2000s, when the genre was at its most prolific. Next, I conduct a close reading and analysis of Helen Fielding’s Bridget Jones’s Diary (1996), to demonstrate the benefits of studying chick lit novels, especially alongside feminist debates, and the insight that can be gained from doing so. I then point to the lasting impacts of the genre, and the way in which many of the themes chick lit is concerned with persist today. All of which argue in support of chick lit’s ability to provide commentary on gender politics, societal pressures, and femininity, and through this thesis I aim to demonstrate the way in which the genre raises issues of major concern to contemporary cultural, literary, and feminist studies.