Rethinking Postfeminism (and maybe even recent Australian literary history): Australian Chick Lit as the Novel of Feminine Economies of Signs and Spaces

Presented by Dr Margaret Henderson

Date: Friday 5 October, 2018
Time: 3:00pm-4:00pm
Location: Digital Learning Space (Room 224, Level 2), Joyce Ackroyd Building (#37) 

Abstract:

Chick lit, the popular fiction genre that humorously narrates the love and work travails of a young(ish), relatively independent heroine, is typically seen as the postfeminist genre, “establishing the salient characteristics of postfeminism in the popular consciousness” (Gamble 63), most notably, conspicuous consumption, updated mores of heterosexual romance, and a contemporary female ambivalence regarding feminist freedoms. These qualities, along with chick lit’s talent for savvy marketing, has led to criticism, such as Beryl Bainbridge’s description of it as “a froth sort of thing” (2001), or Angela McRobbie’s use of Bridget Jones’ Diary as exemplifying postfeminism’s disavowal of feminism (2007). As part of a longer study of Australian postfeminist culture, this paper’s discussion of Australian chick lit, however, uncovers a more substantial form of the insubstantial, with implications for how we think about postfeminism and, to a lesser extent, recent Australian literary history.

This paper will historically contextualise chick lit in terms of the category of women’s writing, provide an overview of the characteristic features of Australian chick lit, and then discuss the local form of the genre as an updating of the working girl novel.

I argue that, in a dynamic we see repeated across Australian postfeminist culture, Australian chick lit seductively but not uncritically integrates the legacy and aftermath of second wave feminism into the neoliberal project, establishing a politically and historically significant literary genre that troubles the orthodoxies of postfeminism. Its humorous and relatively ethnically diverse narratives of female “cultural intermediaries”  (Bourdieu 1984, Featherstone 2007) perfectly capture Australia’s insertion into circuits of post-Fordist capitalism, termed by Scott Lash and John Urry as the economy of signs and space (4), and the special role allotted to women in these circuits. Australian chick lit, therefore, does more serious political and literary work than is usually granted.

 

Presenter:

Margaret Henderson is currently completing a study of Australian postfeminist culture, with Anthea Taylor, and a study of the American punk writer, Kathy Acker, both to be published by Routledge in 2018-19.  

.

Dr Marg Henderson

 

About Research Seminar and Workshop Series

 


The research seminar and workshop series' occur each semester, each with a different topic and guest speaker from UQ or otherwise.

Unless otherwise advertised, the seminars occur on a Friday afternoon from 3-4 pm in the Digital Learning Space (Room 224) in the Joyce Ackroyd Building (#37).

Semester 2, 2018 Seminars & Workshops

 

Monday, 23 July
3pm-4:30pm

Strategic communication in the age of global information warfare: How it works

Digital Learning Space (Room 224, Level 2),
Joyce Ackroyd Building (#37)

Prof Konstantin Pantserev

Friday, 3 August
3-4pm

Algorithmic cultural recommendation: the coded gaze and Google’s face match up

Digital Learning Space (Room 224, Level 2),
Joyce Ackroyd Building (#37)

Dr Caro Wilson-Barnao

Friday, 10 August
9:30am-11:00am

Researching Media Platforms: A Research Methods Conversation

Seminar Room, Level 4, Forgan Smith Tower, UQ St Lucia

Dr Angela Wu (New York University)
Friday, 10 August
3-4 pm

LNR ethics information session

Digital Learning Space (Room 224, Level 2),
Joyce Ackroyd Building (#37)

A/Prof Liz Mackinlay

Friday, 17 August
3-4pm

Host community acculturation orientations, ethnic minority communication, and perceptions toward ethnic minorities: Studies of Chinese Hongkongers

Digital Learning Space (Room 224, Level 2),
Joyce Ackroyd Building (#37)

Prof Ling Chen
(Hong Kong Baptist University)

Friday, 24 August
3-4pm

Hey Siri! How should I title my talk?

Digital Learning Space (Room 224, Level 2),
Joyce Ackroyd Building (#37)

Dr Dan Angus

Friday, 31 August
3-4pm

Tastemaking in Post-digital Literary Culture: The Role of Book Blogs

Digital Learning Space (Room 224, Level 2),
Joyce Ackroyd Building (#37)

Dr Beth Driscoll
(University of Melbourne)

Friday, 7 September
3-4pm

Can We Separate the Art from the Artist? Should We? Moral Character, Artistic Creation, and Ethical Criticism

Digital Learning Space (Room 224, Level 2),
Joyce Ackroyd Building (#37)

Dr Ted Nannicelli
Friday, 14 September
TBC
HDR forum; Research Data Management workshop; Postgraduate Student Welcome  
Friday, 21 September
3-4pm

Young Adult Fantasy: Policing Genre Boundaries

Digital Learning Space (Room 224, Level 2),
Joyce Ackroyd Building (#37)

A/Prof Kim Wilkins
Friday, 5 October
3-4pm

Rethinking Postfeminism (and maybe even recent Australian literary history): Australian Chick Lit as the Novel of Feminine Economies of Signs and Spaces

Digital Learning Space (Room 224, Level 2),
Joyce Ackroyd Building (#37)

Dr Marg Henderson
Wednesday, 28 November
1pm-3:30pm

Workshop - Writing ARC grants: tips and guidance from the experts

Digital Learning Space (Room 224, Level 2),
Joyce Ackroyd Building (#37)

Panel

 

Venue

Digital Learning Space (Room 224, Level 2), Joyce Ackroyd Building (#37)