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 be studying the genre through its historical precedents as well as through ethnic variants from across the world in order to understand the economic and social unevenness that differentiates the figure of the triumphant “girl” in different contexts of globalization.
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”, “gothic”, “feminism”, “post-feminism” and “globalization” 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 response papers, a critical summary of a concept related to the genre, and a long argument based paper.
Required Readings and Viewings (4 novels):
Victoria Holt (1980), The Mask of the Enchantress, pdf
Terry Macmillan (1992), Waiting to Exhale (excerpts)
Sharon Maguire (2001), Bridget Jones’s Diary, 97 mins
Paravati Balagopalan (2003), Rules: Pyar ka Superhit Formula, 123 mins
Sue Hepworth and Jane Linfoot (2006), Plotting for Beginners
Anita Heiss (2007), Not Meeting Mr Right
Catharine Hardwicke (2008), Twilight, 126 mins