ENG 271: Chicklit and Consumer Culture
Nandini Chandra Tuesday-Thursday: 1.30-2.45: KUY 406
Lowbrow chicklit mostly centers around the lives and loves of uptown white girls as emblematized in the popular TV series Sex and the City. The girls are usually single, and ready to mingle. Their dating and sexual choices coordinate with their shopping itineraries, forming provocative patterns, and the two perhaps occupy a comparable status. The shopaholicism is both made necessary and enabled by the fact that the girls work at glamorous professions such as fashion designer, newspaper columnist, food blogger, and others careers in media and publishing . The genre thus combines unapologetic girlishness and girl power, validating female lives and friendships, even as their everyday concerns might appear somewhat superficial. The genre has been studied for its flagship post-feminism which implicitly disavows feminism as dated and irrelevant, while some kind of prefab agency is assumed as a matter of course.
We will study the genre’s literary precedents (the novel of manners and popular romance), its ethnic variants (African American, Australian Aboriginal, South Asian) as well as its paranormal forays into “queer” or non-reproductive time zones (vampire and werewolves).
Student Learning Objectives:
1. You will gain an appreciation of contemporary theories of gender, sexuality and narrative pleasure.
2. You will learn to historicize terms such as “romance”, “post-feminism” and “globalization” etc. through dialogue, discussion and feedback on your writings;
3. You will gain experience leading and delivering focused and thought-provoking oral presentations.
4. You will gain experience crafting historically- and theoretically-informed essays and reviews.
5. You will learn to write an argument-based paper.
Assignments include weekly responses, a critical summary of a concept related to the genre, and a long argument based paper.
Required readings and viewings include two full novels, short excerpts from novels, and films (screened in class):
Victoria Holt (1980), The Mask of the Enchantress, pdf (excerpts) [Laulima]
Helen Feilding (1996), Bridget Jones’ Diary, pdf (excerpts) [Laulima]
Sharon Maguire (2001), Bridget Jones’s Diary, (97 mins), [Class screening]
Sophie Kinsella (1997), Confessions of a Shopaholic, pdf (excerpts) [Laulima]
Paravati Balagopalan (2003), Rules: Pyar ka Superhit Formula, (123 mins)
Terry Mcmillan (1992), Waiting to Exhale (UH Bookstore) [full novel]
Anita Heiss (2007), Avoiding Mr. Right (UH Bookstore) [full novel]
Catherine Hardwicke (2008), Twilight, 126 mins. [Class Screening]