An accidental real: chick lit, research and the everyday

Nash, Belinda
Jackson, Mark
Mountfort, Paul
Johnson, Mike
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Master of Philosophy
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Auckland University of Technology

This research shows that the production of the genre known as chick lit, being immersed in the unspectacular of the everyday, paradoxically constitutes more than the mundanity of everydayness. It describes the spectacularly unspecial and monotony contained within the everyday of chick lit, and how it starts with something and ends with nothing. This is its promise: Sweet nothing. What happens when characters with no special qualities become immersed and visited in the everyday? The novel Sweet nothing, written as research in this thesis project in the genre of chick lit, is concerned with an interminable impossibility: that of the capturing of the radical absence of everything – the place where nothing happens – but that is still ‘sweet.’ It is engaged in the continual missing of the everyday by recording, fictionalising and producing it, because the act of capturing it ensures that parts are missed. Contrary to current research, however, chick lit is not a what, but a where. Its spatiality and temporality occupy internalities and externalities, spaces and places, and ignores the spectacle and spectacular where popular belief would have the everyday reside. It instead drifts in the nothing and the vacant by woefully documenting the banality of the everyday. The topic, An Accidental Real: Chick lit, Research and the Everyday – in itself a problematic grouping of words – invites the question of finding the threshold moment between inscribing the everyday to it becoming research in the everyday where a background of ‘everyday’ becomes the foreground; the place of discovery.

This thesis project, which comprises creative writing, a novel in the genre of chick lit, and an exegesis, pulls at this dangling thread, pulling on the nothing and ignoring the spectacle. It is common, yet it manipulates the reader to believe the everyday of itself is sensational and invites immersion into it, and for the reader to bind with its modes of operation, its production. Production essentially needs to be understood as the places of interactions with chick lit, places, always plural, multiple, innumerable. It encompasses processes, means and relations of production: activating a field of concepts, writing and writing over, bringing to appearance, and inscribing apparitions, watching and waiting, reading and re-reading, locating and consuming chick lit ‘products’. By ‘production’, I do not simply mean the assemblage within the mode of production named ‘publishing’ as the fabricating of a printed thing, its marketing and circulation. In the sense that I want to engage the notion, production is never-ending; one is never done with the thing in its producing-consuming; it is an infinite conversation, to reference Maurice Blanchot. Its success depends upon this very manipulation, where the reader expects something but will be delivered nothing. The exegesis exposes the conflicts and conundrum of chick lit by throwing it over the lofty walls of the academy forcing it out of the darkness, out of the closed circle of chick lit writers and readers, exposing it to the glare of a divergent academy. This push forces the idea and production of chick lit, that which inhabits the margins of inscription – of the everyday – into an academy that resists or ignores its arrival, and by so doing, invites a discourse around what it means to be immersed in the practice of writing the everyday, and asks what writing constitutes the writing of nothing.

Chick lit , Spatial theory , The everyday , Creative writing , Genre , The unspectacular , The nothing , Performance research , Exegesis
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