Penn Arts & Sciences Logo

Introduction to Chick Lit

ENGL 1391.401
also offered as: GSWS 1391
MW 3:30-4:59pm

Summer flings. Tricky romances. Glamorous careers. Ugly feelings. These are hallmarks of “Chick Lit,” a genre named in the 1990s that encompasses pleasurable fiction written primarily for women, by women, and about women. While Chick Lit has been criticized for elevating the so-called “superficial,” “trivial,” and “fluffy” elements of women’s lives, it has nonetheless remained an enormously popular and influential segment of contemporary fiction. This course will introduce students to the genre by taking a journey through Chick Lit’s predecessors, greatest hits, and new boundary-pushing work, in both novels and film. What makes something a work of Chick Lit, and why is the genre still so successful? Where did Chick Lit come from, and who has it repeatedly left out? Should we consider Chick Lit to be feminist or anti-feminist, or is that question even useful? What individual and social fantasies do these works indulge in, and what literary techniques do they use to captivate their readers? Assigned texts and films may include Emma (Jane Austen), Bridget Jones’ Diary (film, 2001), Waiting to Exhale (film, 1995), The Nanny Diaries (Emma Mclaughlin & Nicola Krauss), Detransition, Baby (Torrey Peters), Love is Blind (TV series, 2020-), and The Ultimatum: Queer Love (TV series, 2023-). Assignments will include in-class writing exercises, short reflection pieces, and two 4- to 6-page essays.



English Major Requirements
  • Sector 6 20th & 21st Centuries (AE20)
English Concentration Attributes
  • 20th-21st Century Concentration (AE21)
  • Gender/Sexuality Concentration (AEGS)
  • The Novel Concentration (AENV)
College Attributes