Nobody Does It Better: How Cecily Von Ziegesar's Controversial Novel Series "Gossip Girl" Spawned The Popular Genre of Teen Chick Lit

by Naugle, Briel Nichole

Abstract (Summary)
An amalgamation of two overlooked and often dismissed genres (young adult fiction and chick lit), the burgeoning popular fiction genre of teen chick lit has yet to be defined and discussed in critical detail. The popularity of teen chick lit novels amongst their target audience is undeniable as book sales of the archetypal series, Cecily von Ziegesar’s Gossip Girl, exceed 4.5 billion copies as of 2007. Clearly, the novels resonate with teen readers in ways yet unknown to those outside the Millennial generation, to whom these novels are targeted. Using John Cawelti’s theories of conventions, inventions, and formula, a genre analysis of teen chick lit genre was completed to decipher the particular elements that differentiate teen chick lit from other genres such as traditional young adult literature. Since the genre is also culturally important, a brief examination of the sociological implications of the novels and the ways in which the novels reflect the changing social mores of the Millennial readers is included. This initial analysis of the genre answers the question what is this genre and what makes it unique from traditional literature aimed at young adult females? Through a close reading of the texts of the series, I contend that the author Cecily von Ziegesar helped to create a new literary genre by using conventions found in other forms of literature in a unique way; that is, by incorporating borrowed conventions (such as explicit sex) from other genres and placing them into a genre that has been historically censored against such conventions, von Ziegesar transformed the “conventions” into “inventions,” to use Cawelti’s terms. Through repetition of these “inventions” in the following volumes of the series, the “inventions” became “conventions” and a new genre was created to contain these conventions.
Bibliographical Information:


School:Bowling Green State University

School Location:USA - Ohio

Source Type:Master's Thesis

Keywords:teen chick lit gossip girl john cawelti cecily von ziegesar inventions conventions genre


Date of Publication:01/01/2008

© 2009 All Rights Reserved.