Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Peer Seminar Discussion

One the advantages of blogging a course is the ability to informally publish scholarly analyses from seminar that would otherwise get no further airing. Yesterday's discussion of Rob Roy in terms of the two genres under study was especially strong, and I will use this post to edit & copy any of your written summaries that I receive.
I encourage you to continue the discussion in the "Comments" section ....
  1. "Before we can categorize Lad and Chick Lit we must first have a base criteria. I believe that the nature of the main protagonist gives the reader an insight to whether the book should be considered Lad Lit or Chick Lit. If the protagonist is having an internal conflict (ie. a struggle with one's identity or fight for individualism) then the book can be defined as Chick Lit; for example novels like Villette and Bridget Jones's Diary. In Chick Lit the protagonist looks inward for affirmation of womanhood. However, if the protagonist is in conflict with a villain or society (ie. external forces) then the book can be defined as Lad Lit; for example novels like Rob Roy and classics like Beowulf. In Lad Lit the protagonist must often prove himself to the world to reaffirm his masculinity. I would appreciate any comments on this working thesis."
  2. "We brought up was distinction between internal and external, or private and public. We have found that in chick lit, the female deals with her problems and emotional landscape via a direct link toher psyche and internal self. She directs her energies to fixing her problems by analyzing her own emotions; pondering her internal struggles; and fixing on the effects other people, places, or her own thoughts have on her own psyche. She may experience similar emotions of outward violence or anger that a male in lad lit might feel, though there often seems to beconstraints on such behaviour, and she thereforedeals with problems internally. In contrast, we have found that in lad lit, the male deals with problems by projecting them outwards - onto other people. He may be having similar concerns and issues that the female in chick lit feels, but he deals with them in an outward manner -- by engaging in battle, in other forms of physical competition, or by emotionally projecting anger though violence to antagonists, or "bad guys".We generally came to a conclusion much like the lectures, that Villette and Rob Roy are quite different novels with quite different attributes, but they do not easily fit into the simple genre categories of chick lit and lad lit. We did bring up the fact that much depends on how one defines the two genres. Our hypothesis is that the forthcoming books in the course will become more clearly defined and easier to separate into two limited genres.Someone in our group also mentioned that in chick lit the characters are not as divided into "good" and "bad", but in lad lit there are characterswho are more evidently "good" and more evidently "bad". We will see, though our research, how generally this applies to chick lit and lad lit .


maggie said...

A number of loose pieces about our enquiry into chicklit/ladlit are floating around in my head and I would like help to tie them together:
1.psychology of internalized/externalized identity.
2.Darwin's passive/active theory
3.Readers of (pop.fiction) Chicklit/ladlit
4.Readers of art fiction.
5.cause and effect

I would like to be able to formulate one question/statement/hypotesis that encompasses all of the above so that I can summarize/synthesize them.

Maggie said...

What about Stream of Consciouness novels which have male protagonists?
Marcel in Remebrances of Things Past
Benji in The Sound and the Fury
Bloom in Ulysses
None of these is British Lit. Does that make a difference?

Vesper said...

Interesting. I gather that you're mentioning stream of consciousness novels because those are all about the protagonist being inside the mind?? Those novels are likely exceptions to our generalization of internal/external...written by authors, perhaps, who have designated a place for themselves quite OUTSIDE of stereotypical masculine positions in society. Haven't many authors pushed the boundaries of gender...as well as other social expectations?

Angela said...

I do not think the debate is over whether or not men can have internal dialogue in literature, but instead the debate is over what makes Lad Lit different from Chick Lit. Not every novel will fit into one category or another; but there are plenty of novels that do. I happen to believe that Vilette and Rob Roy are examples that can fit into these categories, but of course that is debatable

Furthermore, I believe genres and categories in general can be a close-fit at best. Unless a particular novel happens to define a category; it will never be a perfect fit; but this doesn't mean that categories should be completely disregarded. I think it comes back to a certain self-consciousness regarding the reading of popular literature in academia. We are quick to disregard the validity of something because it is popular (such as romance novels), and continuing this trend we don't want to see anything that we deem high literature forced into some sort of confining label such as Lad Lit or Chick Lit because it feels demeaning. I don't think we should be so quick to throw away labels, however. They help us understand the whole piece by piece.

Vesper said...

It's interesting to examine where the labels came from, why they are there, etc. I don't think it's demeaning to put a book into a genre...
I'm a fan of pop culture, too.
When we talk about the internal and external attributes, we ARE trying to define lad lit and chick lit. I think you need to define them first before you can say whether or not a book can fit into the genre. And even then, not everyone will agree... Genres are vague and funny little creatures. They are slippery and ironic. That's why it's so fun to study them!