While it began as a playful nickname for Princeton University’s Female Literary Tradition course in the 1980s, “chick lit” has since evolved into something much broader. In the 1990s, it referred to an avant-garde movement in women’s fiction; in the early 2000s, it gave us Bridget Jones’s Diary and Sex and the City; and today, it’s best defined as “a humorous work of literature with a female-centered plot…written for women and by women,” according to alumna Stephanie Harzewski Gr’06.
Harzewski’s someone you should trust on the subject, as she has quite literally written the book on chick lit — it’s called Chick Lit and Postfeminism, and it was published by University of Virginia Press just last month.
As part of its Women’s History Month lineup, the Penn Women’s Center co-sponsored Harzewski’s visit to the Penn Bookstore last week. I recorded her talk — in which she discussed the genre’s origins, evolution, and significance — and have included the entire audio file below. Hope you enjoy it as much as I did!