Women in Literature

I was thinking  more about the class we had a couple of weeks ago where we talked about topics we’d like to see come up in class. While all fantastic topics, the English major in me was CLAMORING to get to the “English 271” part of this WAGS/FAMS/BLST course. I’ve loved all the films we’ve watched so far, and the texts that have been paired with them. I also like Pop Culture, so wherever this class is heading, I’m liking it….

…but, is there no room for us to look at representations of women in literature? Is literature not pop culture? This is actually a legitimate question. After researching definitions of “popular culture” I still don’t know if literature (novels, for instance) is included in this concept. I know this class has kind of focused on the 1990s and beyond, so I won’t be sad if Pride and Prejudice or The Awakening don’t come up this semester. But what about Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, The Hunger Games, Divergent (this trilogy is great; also features a “strong, female character”), and all of these recent books which feature strong female characters. We probably don’t have time to go through novels in this class, but I was just thinking about this the other day when I was pre-ordering my tickets for Catching FireI think many of these books are becoming part of our popular culture (especially with younger generations), so I thought I’d at least bring them to our attention, if at least to just view them through some of the lenses we have been using in this class.

Over and out.

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5 thoughts on “Women in Literature

  1. Interesting! I would think that paperback novels are part of pop culture, in that it’s disseminated by mass media and has a wide reach. And I definitely grew up reading a ton of said paperbacks, so for me at least, it’s heavily influenced my identity formation.

    Disclaimer: I haven’t read The Hunger Games, but YA fiction would be great to discuss. I tend to be mystified (and alarmed) by the number of summer/school romances targeted at teenage girls, and how utterly difficult it is to find books of /any/ genre in which the girl protagonist isn’t consumed by romantic fixation of some sort.

    • Hmm. Maybe what WOULD fit into the realm of this course is how literature has come to play a part in our culture, or in the shaping of our identities? Something along those lines, I think? Thanks for your comment and perspective!

  2. I think that the problem lies in that literature is perceived by many as ‘high’ culture and therefore cannot be pop. This is both hugely problematic and also ahistorical, as many of the works of literature that are now considered great, started out running within the popular presses.

    I read the Hunger Games earlier this year, after watching the first film, and I admit that I really enjoyed them in a pop kind of way. They aren’t books I would cite as being my favorites, but I’m happy that they exist for young girls to read. On the flip side of this, there’s Twilight and all of the hoopla that surrounds that phenomena. But even though I believe that Twilight is hugely problematic, in about fifty different ways, it’s also a necessary evil, insofar as representations of young women shouldn’t always be about the “strong” female character. There needs to be other representations of the multiplicity of young women too.

    • I think Hunger Games would be great to think about, especially paired with a series like Twilight. Part of the reason I liked the Hunger Games so much, I think, has to do with how Katniss is so unlike Bella. Like you said, Meg, representations of young women should not always be about strong female characters/heroines, however, I disagree in your thinking that Bella does not represent a “strong” female character to many readers–my issue with Twilight is that Bella is considered the central heroine of the series. Although, I suppose there should be diversity among heroines as well, I still have trouble accepting Bella as one…

  3. That’s so interesting! I never linked pop culture and literature before, but there are definitely pieces of literature that belong in the pop culture category. I mean, the movies Twilight and The Hunger Games, which are considered parts of pop culture, are based off of novels, so why shouldn’t literature be considered pop culture?

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