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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

For the We Are Scientists song, see Chick Lit (We Are Scientists song).

Chick lit is genre fiction within women's fiction which addresses issues of modern women often humorously and lightheartedly.[1] The genre sells well, with chick lit titles topping bestseller lists and the creation of imprints devoted entirely to chick lit. Although sometimes it includes romantic elements, women's fiction (including chick lit) is generally not considered a direct subcategory of the romance novel genre, because in Chick lit the heroine's relationship with her family or friends may be just as important as her romantic relationships.[2]



According to Ferris, Chick lit often features hip, stylish, career-driven[1] female protagonists, usually in their twenties and thirties. The women featured in these novels may be obsessed with appearance or have a passion for shopping.[1]

However, this has been disputed. In Publisher's Weekly, Amy Sohn redefines the genre as being about women who can stand on their own two feet.[3] This same article refutes the previous stereotypes. Library Journal also states that Ethnic Chick Lit counts in the definition, Mommy Lit and other sub sub genres which don't include the 20-30-something protagonist who is worried about shopping, boys and sex. [4]

The main feature of Chick lit is the protagonist who is female, often, but not always trying to make it in the modern world dealing with issues that women face. This can range from women in a contemporary world, such as Waiting to Exhale or it can deal with Modernist or Historical world, such as Alice Walker's The Color Purple or Toni Morrison's Beloved. The issues can deal with more than shopping such as Marian Keyes's Watermelon which deal with how to be a mother in a modern world or dealing with religion such as in Christian chick lit. The market of Chick lit covers a range of ages and topics, which concern women and often where the focus is not on romance.


According to Ferris, Chick lit was started by earlier writers, such as Jane Austen and the Brontes, but was not defined as a genre until Bridget Jones (1996). However, several novels predate that definition, but are still considered "Chick lit" these include Terry McMillan's Waiting to Exhale (1995), Jane Austen's novels, H. B. Gilmour's Clueless (1995), the Brontes and so on.[5] These novels were later recategorized into being Chick lit.

The genre was aimed a a large audience of women, originally both of white and non-white backgrounds. However, much of Chick Lit is aimed at a white, young female audience as of 2009. Over time the genre diversified into other experiences women have. Such as Ethnic chick lit, Brit chick lit (also known as Singleton Lit), Lad lit, Workplace tell-all, Bride lit, Mommy lit, Widow lit, Christian chick lit, Mystery chick lit and Hen lit. Ethnic chick lit also has sub genres, such as Indian chick lit, Asian chick lit, Brazilian chick lit, Chica lit, and Black chick lit.


Origins of the term

"Chick" is an American slang term for young woman and "Lit" is short for "literature". The phrase "chick lit" is analogous to the term chick flick.

The term appeared in print as early as 1988 as college slang for a course titled "female literary tradition." [6] In 1995, Cris Mazza and Jeffrey DeShell used the term as an ironic title for their edited anthology Chick Lit: Postfeminist Fiction. The genre was defined as a type of post-feminist or second-wave feminism that went beyond female-as-victim to include fiction that covered the breadth of female experiences, including love, courtship and gender. The collection emphasized experimental work, including violent, perverse and sexual themes. James Wolcott's 1996 article in The New Yorker "Hear Me Purr" co-opted the term "chick lit" to proscribe what he called the trend of "girlishness" evident in the writing of female newspaper columnists at that time. Works such as Helen Fielding's Bridget Jones's Diary and Candace Bushnell's Sex and the City are examples of such work that helped establish contemporary connotations of the term. The success of Bridget Jones and Sex and the City in book form established chick lit as an important trend in publishing. The Girls' Guide to Hunting and Fishing by Melissa Bank[7] is regarded as one of the first chick lit works to originate as a novel (actually a collection of stories), though the term "chick lit" was in common use at the time of its publication (1999).

Publishers continue to push the sub-genre because of its viability as a sales tactic. Various other terms have been coined as variant in attempts to attach themselves to the perceived marketability of the work.


The genre's creation started as inspiration from Jane Austen. Clueless was based on the Jane Austen novel Emma with a focus to update the story into modern times.[8] Helen Fielding's Bridget Jones's Diary series were also influenced by Jane Austen. The original Bridget Jones was inspired by Pride and Prejudice while Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason was inspired by Persuasion. Both of these tried to update Jane Austen's novels.

When these two became a large hit, this spurred on other novels' creation and the designation of Chick lit.

See also


  1. ^ a b c In the Classroom or In the Bedroom Chick Lit: The New Woman’s Fiction. Edited by Suzanne Ferris and Mallory Young. Routledge Publishing, 2005. 288 pages. Trade Paperback. Reviewed by Jessica Lynice Hooten.
  2. ^ "What's in a Name?", Publishers Weekly, July 2, 2001,, retrieved 2007-04-30  
  3. ^
  4. ^
  5. ^
  6. ^ Don M. Betterton, Alma mater : unusual stories and little-known facts from America's college campuses, Peterson's Guides, Princeton, N.J. (1988); p. 113 ISBN: 087866579X : 9780878665792
  7. ^ Melissa Bank's Salon Interview
  8. ^

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