I have been working on my grad school applications over the last few weeks and let me tell you… it is nerve racking. If you have ever gone through this process before or put yourself out there for anything you cared about, you know how stressful this can be. I was certain that I wouldn’t let the process beat me. “I’m stronger than this,” I foolishly declared to myself yet I soon dissolved into a puddle of anxiety. When I found that I was hyperventilating over editing my writing sample and having to prove that I know something about anything, I knew I couldn’t do this alone. Thanks to the help of my wonderful friends who did get themselves into grad school, my applications are sent off and now I have to wait to be judged by random grad committees.
After I pulled myself together, I really got into telling these departments about my passion for chick-lit and how I want to research it. There are so many things to talk about in the genre, class, gender, sexuality, race, socio-economic status… but what I have become interested in is confessional narrative and how this is used to help constructed or understand images of the self.
When characters like Bridget Jones write a diary about all the ways she is trying to improve herself, she is confessing her faults. It is as though she can purge herself of her faulty, contradictory self and emerge and the end of the year as a whole, unified person. We all do this. We make resolutions either at the new year or at moments throughout the year like birthdays, anniversaries, or even Mondays. We promise ourselves that we will not repeat the same mistakes… no longer will be do things that do not match up with who we want to be.
What I like about chick-lit is that the women in these books seem to struggle with shedding their inauthentic self, but instead of turning into a different person, they learn to be comfortable with themselves and accept who they are. This includes faults and contradictions because it is impossible to be a fully consistent self. Situations change, ideas change, other people change and we, like our chick-lit heroines, change with it.
I think this would be a pretty interesting and important topic to take into the academy. So, here is to hoping that some University out there thinks I’m intelligent, interesting, and wants me!