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Teening Chick Lit?


Whelehan, IM, Teening Chick Lit?, Working Papers on the Web, 13, (September) EJ ISSN 1478-3703 (2009) [Refereed Article]


Commentators on chick lit recognise that the content and scope of the novels gathered together under this umbrella category have broadened significantly since the term entered colloquial usage. Chick lit is identified primarily by its audience (mid-twenties to late thirties, middle class, white, single), and its themes—urban lifestyles of contemporary singletons who have difficulty finding true romance in their chaotic, socially-charged lives. Latterly, with sub-categories such as mumlit (henlit), nanny lit, tart noir and widowlit being identifiable, chick lit has expanded to the extent that one could be forgiven for wondering if the epithet has any enduring significance or meaning any more, so wide is its application. In one sense the development of the genre is inevitably linked to the fact that some of its key authors have developed as writers, and as they age their work continues to reflect the concerns of their own generation, so that gradually the fate of love relationships and commitment post-marriage, long-term partnership and/or children becomes foregrounded.

Despite the predictions of numerous commentators in the popular press, chick lit has not died a death and fewer middlebrow writers since Beryl Bainbridge expend their energies decrying these novels. Now it is a tendency within popular fiction; its signature covers attract a loyal community of readers, just as the Mills and Boon rose did before. I use the word ‘tendency’ advisably here: in an era where the spaces chick lit has invaded become more numerous, it is useful to think about chick lit as a tendency found in popular women’s writing of the late twentieth and early twenty-first century which alerts us to key concerns and themes also to be found in popular culture more generally. One side-effect of the growth in the chick lit brand is that not only has it diversified its themes and key ingredients, but that it has also migrated into teen fiction. In this essay I shall explore some examples of young adult fiction aimed at girls to analyse briefly the effect of the influence of chick lit upon girl’s teen fiction and compare this with an earlier teen classic which was more clearly influenced by the feminism of its day.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Research Division:Language, Communication and Culture
Research Group:Literary studies
Research Field:North American literature
Objective Division:Culture and Society
Objective Group:Communication
Objective Field:Literature
UTAS Author:Whelehan, IM (Professor Imelda Whelehan)
ID Code:70551
Year Published:2009
Deposited By:Research Division
Deposited On:2011-06-28
Last Modified:2014-10-08

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