Popular/post-feminism and popular literature
This thesis is concerned with the ambivalence expressed towards feminism by many women in the last decade and identifies post-feminism as a problematic through which to explore this in contemporary women's writing. It focuses on selected fictional and non-fictional texts of the 1980s and 1990s and examines the ways in which they engage with feminist concerns. Until now, post-feminism has not been studied through its articulations in popular literature. To do justice to the wide range of views held by women and avoid a defensive and pessimistic reading of commercialised mainstream culture, I have made use of intertextual readings. The methodology is derived from feminist critical theory and cultural studies in order to address the relation between feminist and non-feminist literary texts and the dynamic interchange between what have been labelled as feminist politics and mainstream or consumer women' s interests. The significance of the research lies in the identification of ways in which such works of fiction and nonfiction provide an outlet for women's voices which could serve as a basis for developing feminist criticism and politics. The thesis is divided into three chapters, the different themes of which illustrate post-feminist concerns. In the first, I address the literature of popular therapy by women. The second chapter focuses on contemporary fictional and non-fictional writings by women on sex. The final chapter examines women' s relationship to transgression through genres of crime writing. I have found that popular literary forms used by women may offer a progressive and complex reading of post-feminism. I conclude that post-feminism has drawn on popular elements of feminism and that, at the beginning of the 1990s, one may identify a reincorporation of feminism into postfeminism.