Theorizing in the Chick Lit Genre (Proposed Collection of Essays)

Though the chick lit genre is most often cited as a location for the study of contemporary white women’s experiences or perhaps to debate the genre’s feminist credentials, it has in the last fifteen years emerged as a site where protagonists of many ethnicities negotiate their cultural identities and notions of national belonging. To serve as a corrective for this inattention to ethnicity, Theorizing Ethnicity in the Chick Lit Genre [working title] will be an edited collection with a threefold purpose: to uncouple the larger category of chick lit from a white-centric subgenre, to call attention to the variety of chick lit categories and texts, and to offer strategies for bringing these texts into the classroom. The collection takes up Pamela Butler and Jigna Desai’s call, in their examination of South Asian chick lit, to imagine white chick lit as just one category of a much larger field that encompasses Latina chick lit, African-American lit, South Asian-American chick lit, and more. These essays will theorize about the genre so as to account for the full range of women’s experiences that it represents as well as demonstrate how various forms of chick lit navigate racial politics and representation. Furthermore, essays in this collection will speak to how representations of women in these novels construct but also disrupt constructions of nationality and cultural citizenship.

Below are proposed topics, but others are welcomed:

  • •    The consequences of decentering whiteness in chick lit
  • •    Strategies for shifting whiteness from center to margin
  • •    The possibilities of a more expansive notion of chick lit
  • •    Alternative histories of the genre
  • •    Definitions of one or more of chick lit categories (such as chica lit, desi lit, sistah lit, etc.)
  • •    Analysis of tropes within one or more chick lit categories
  • •    Examinations of one or more tropes across chick lit categories
  • •    Constructions of intimacy, womanhood, and/or success in chick lit categories or individual novels
  • •    Readings of cultural citizenship and US identity in the chick lit genre
  • •    Close readings of specific novels within one or more chick lit categories
  • •    Approaches or practices used when using these novels in the classroom
  • •    Narratives of challenges and/or struggles when teaching ethnic chick lit novels

Proposals should describe the primary topic or issue that the chapter will cover, along with a brief description of your approach and purpose(s) for writing it. Final submissions should be chapters of approximately 15 to 20 pages, although pedagogical submissions may be shorter in length and/or may include teaching materials.

Proposals are due March 15, 2015 and first drafts are due August 1, 2015

Send a 500-word abstract and a short biographic note (50 words) including institutional affiliation and publications by March 15, 2015 to the editor, Dr. Erin Hurt with the subject line “Chick Lit Genre.” All participants will be notified about decisions.


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