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.  

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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 1, 2019 Seminars & Workshops

 

Friday, 26 July
3-4pm

School Forum

 

Friday, 2 August
3-4pm

Who Owns Your Face? Personal Identity Rights in the Era of Augmented Reality and Facial Recognition Technology

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

Gordon Finlayson

Friday, 16 August
3-5 pm
 

3:00pm-4:00pm (Panel)

4:00pm- onwards (CAPS launch event)

CommArts Postgraduate Society Panel: “How to Write a Journal Article and Target the Right Journals”

CommArts Postgraduate Society Launch/ new HDR student welcome

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

Angela Hannan (SCA Librarian)

Dr Elena Danilova (Scholarly Publishing, Library)

Dr Ted Nannicelli (Editor, Projections: The Journal for Movies and Mind)

Associate Professor Kelly Fielding (Communication scholar)

Dr Jennifer Clement (Literary Studies scholar)

Associate Professor Pradip Thomas (Communications, Media and Cultural Studies scholar)
Friday, 23 August
3-5 pm

All in One Quire: Emotional Communities in John Donne's Easter Sermons

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

Dr Jennifer Clement

Friday, 6 September
3-4pm

Examining intergenerational cultural transmission in refugee families: A study of Congolese, Burmese, and Ethiopian refugee families resettled in Australia

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

Dr Aparna Hebbani, A/Prof Levi Obijiofor and Mairead MacKinnon

Friday, 13 September
3-4pm

AustLit and BlackWords—Platforms for Storying Research

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

Kerry Kilner and The AustLit Team

Friday, 20 September
3-4pm

Platform Anxieties in India

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

A/Prof Pradip Thomas
Friday, 27 September
3-4pm

Centre for Critical and Creative Writing Hosted Roundtable: The State of Australian Arts Criticism

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

 
Friday, 4 October
3-4pm

Enacting a Sense of Home Among Older Chinese Migrants in Australia

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

A/Prof Shuang Liu
Friday, 11 October
3-4pm

Selfies, Affordances, and Situational Properties

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

Katrin Tiidenberg, Tallinn University

Friday, 18 October
3-4pm

To Not Die of History

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

Cherry Smyth

Friday, 25 October
3-4pm

Why Paintings Matter: Filming Bruegel’s Hunters in the Snow (1565)

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

Dr Andrea Bubenik