Friday, November 27, 2009

Romance and Chick Lit Links

Chris Szego on the romance genre and its relationship to fairytales.

Jessica at Read React Review's 'summary of "Reading Romantic Fiction", Chapter 4 of Joanne Hollows’ Feminism Femininity and Popular Culture.'

Chick Lit. Ed. Sarah Gormley and Sara Mills. Working Papers on the Web, 13 (September 2009). This is online and available to be read in full, for free. It contains:
  • 'Introduction'. Sarah Gormley discusses the definition of 'chick lit' and gives a brief history of the genre. She also notes that
    For Harzeswki, the depiction of serial dating in chick lit subverts the primary ‘one woman—one man’ tenet of popular romance identified by Radway (1989); the affording of equal or more attention in chick lit to the quest for self-definition rather than a sole focus on the romance plot shifts emphasis from the centrality of the love story in popular romance; unlike both the novel of manners and the popular romance, chick lit virtually replaces the centrality of the heterosexual hero with the prominence of a gay male best friend; and that narrative closure in the form of an engagement or marriage is not a prerequisite in chick lit reformulates the marriage plot of the novel of manners and the ‘happy ending’ of popular romance fiction.
  • 'Lad lit as mediated intimacy: A postfeminist tale of female power, male vulnerability and toast'. Rosalind Gill suggests that
    Perhaps the most striking feature of lad lit is the difference between the characterisation of masculinity here and in other fictional genres. In traditional romances the heroes are invariably strong, powerful and successful; in spy fiction and military genres they are presented as intelligent, valiant, purposeful; in lad lit, by contrast, readers are offered a distinctly unheroic masculinity—one that is fallible, self-deprecating and liable to fail at any moment.

  • 'When Romantic Heroines Turn Bad: The Rise of the ‘Anti-Chicklit’ Novel.' Sarah Gamble

  • 'Teening Chick Lit?' Imelda Whelehan

  • 'Chick Lit and Marian Keyes: The ideological background of the genre'. Elena Pérez-Serrano

  • 'Chick Lit: A Postfeminist Fairy Tale'. Georgina C. Isbister comments that
    To the extent that Bridget Jones’s Diary and other chick lit novels base their narratives around a love plot, they tend to do so by opposing two types of classic male suitors, the traditional Byronic hero (in Bridget’s case, Daniel Cleaver) and the contemporary nascent feminist hero (Mark Darcy). Here the two heroes together symbolize the protagonist’s negotiations of the traditional gendered romantic fantasy of love versus the contemporary feminist love of equality.

Image from Wikimedia Commons.


  1. What I find interesting is that there's a tendency among (some) chick lit authors as well as academics who study the genre, to try and show that chick lit is so much better and so much more feminist than romance. Isbister, for example, argues that "chick lit protagonists differ from the heroines of earlier romance novels in the choices and opportunities available to them", meaning, chick lit heroines have a career, romance heroines don't. While this is, of course, true for historical romance, it is not for contemporary romance (Susan Elizabeth Phillips's Dr. Jane Darlington, anybody?).

    Similarly, "the quest for self-definition", which Gormley mentions in the Introduction to Chick Lit, can also be found in a large number of romance novels. In other words, popular romance does not solely focus on the romance plot, though it is, of course, a central element.

  2. "meaning, chick lit heroines have a career, romance heroines don't. While this is, of course, true for historical romance, it is not for contemporary romance"

    It's true for some contemporary romances. Quite a lot of heroines in contemporary romances give up careers, sometimes because of marrying a sheik/billionaire, sometimes because they've discovered the joys of small-town living, sometimes because they worked in childcare and now prefer to look after their own children and probably for quite a few other reasons that aren't coming to my mind at the moment.

    And there are some heroines in historicals who have careers. I can think of some who are writers, for example, and Leila in Loretta Chase's Captives of the Night isn't going to stop being an artist after her marriage.

    Or were you meaning "historical" in the sense of "written a long time ago"?

  3. I just started writing chic lit myself and it was hard trying to stay lighthearted without getting too serious when my character kept suffering so many mishaps. I turned to chick lit best sellers, sophie kinsella, maeve binchy, johanna lindsey for guidance by reading their books to see how the heroine deals with issues and still comes out on top.

    I blog everyday about writing tips, music, movies, my novels that I'm writing and fashion.