Collage Grrrls: Reclaiming contradictory femininities in anti-chick lit

Sormus, Megan (2017) Collage Grrrls: Reclaiming contradictory femininities in anti-chick lit. Doctoral thesis, Northumbria University.

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Abstract

Collage Grrrls represents the first sustained attempt to define, historicise and analyse the contentious genre of ‘anti-chick lit’. In this thesis, I argue that anti-chick lit – while critically neglected – represents a key development in women’s writing from the 1990s onwards; alighting on the girl and the grrrl as figures of contradiction and transitional possibility, anti-chick fictions generate spaces in which the darker aspects of female experience – from mental illness, self-harming and unwanted pregnancies, to sexual excess and consumerism – can be creatively (re)imagined.

In this way, Collage Grrrls makes a timely intervention into debates about feminine identity and feminism in popular culture. At the heart of these debates, however, exists a fraught paradox that Collage Grrrls will interrogate: at the same time as celebrating a female subject that is ‘untamed, ungroomed and unglossed’, does anti-chick lit’s alignment with the mass- market appeal of chick lit mean that the subject is simultaneously re-tamed, re-groomed and re-glossed in order to preserve her appeal – paradoxically – to a mass audience? I identify Emma Forrest, an Anglo-American author and journalist, as a representative for the genre. Along with Forrest’s novels Namedropper (1998), Thin Skin (2002) and Cherries in the Snow (2005), I will also include detailed reference to Stephanie Kuehnert’s I wanna be your Joey Ramone (2008) and Kristin Hersh’s Rat Girl (2010). Collage Grrrl’s scope of literary genres includes Young Adult fiction and memoir, with each key work presenting an unapologetic portrait of female pathology.

The discussion will address the impact of third wave and postfeminism, and the cultural shifts in mainstream representations of gender, specifically in light of the fluxional identity politics of the 90s and their effect on young women. The politics and practices of this era paved the way for movements such as riot grrrl, with the grrrl becoming a notable figure for challenging normative meanings of femininity. By examining authors and works on which there is little critical material, Collage Grrrls aims to do the same, seeking out authors and texts that have yet to be recuperated to academic discourse.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Subjects: Q200 Comparative Literary studies
Department: Faculties > Arts, Design and Social Sciences > Humanities
University Services > Graduate School > Doctor of Philosophy
Depositing User: Becky Skoyles
Date Deposited: 11 Oct 2018 10:18
Last Modified: 11 Dec 2018 10:31
URI: http://nrl.northumbria.ac.uk/id/eprint/36254

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