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Clever Girls and the Literature of Women's Upward Mobility

Authors: Eagleton, Mary

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  • Is concerned with an issue of central importance – culturally, socially and politically
  • Uses an historical scope from post-war to the present
  • Engages with significant authors, both well-established and the less-known
  • Examines a wide range of texts – fiction, drama and memoirs
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About this book

This book follows the figure of ‘the clever girl’ from the post-war to the present and focuses on the fiction, plays and memoirs of contemporary British women writers. Spurred on by an ethic of meritocracy, the clever girl is now facing austerity and declining social mobility. Though suggesting optimism, a public discourse of ‘opportunity’, ‘aspiration’ and ‘choice’ is often experienced as an anxious and chancy process. In a wide-ranging study, the book explores the struggle to move away from home and traditional notions of femininity; the persistent problems associated with women’s embodiment; the pressures of class and racial divisions; the new subjectivities of the neoliberal era; and the generational conflict underpinning austerity. The book ends with a consideration of feminism’s place as a phantom presence in this history of clever girls. This study will appeal to readers of contemporary women’s writing and to those interested in what has been one of the dominant social narratives of the post-war period from upward to declining mobility. 

About the authors

Mary Eagleton was, formerly, Professor of Contemporary Women’s Writing at Leeds Beckett University, UK.  She has published widely on contemporary women authors, feminist literary theory and feminist literary history. Publications include Figuring the Woman Author in Contemporary Fiction (2005), Feminist Literary Theory: A Reader (3rd revised edition, 2011) and, with Emma Parker, The History of British Women’s Writing, 1970 – the Present (2015).

Reviews

“The book as a whole is based on an impressive body of research … . It is thoroughly up to date, commenting on recently published literary texts as well as on the latest political developments. The writing is extremely lucid and readable throughout. This is an important study, which will be valuable to literary critics and particularly to cultural historians.” (Faye Hammill, Tulsa Studies in Women's Literature, Vol. 38 (2), 2019)          

“Eagleton’s ambitious book includes attention to novels, memoirs and dramas that foreground a change in class status for women since the Second World War. … Both primary and secondary texts are diverse in their origins and methods, and one of the strengths of the book is Eagleton’s wide scope on both fronts. … Eagleton’s own terminology is continuously sensitive to the social pressures that complicate social mobility … .” (Mary M. McGlynn, Literature & History, Vol. 28 (2), November, 2019)

“Mary Eagleton’s impressive study … provides a thoroughgoing social and political history of women’s education – and an illustrative account of the ways in which the routes to upward mobility flowed and ebbed – from the post-war era to the present. She adopts a novel interdisciplinary approach, a model hybrid literary/social study that maps the course of women’s upward mobility through literature and supported by history, showing how this forms a trajectory that rises and declines from one precarious era to another.” (Sue Kennedy, Journal of Gender Studies, Vol. 28 (5), 2019)

“A rich study of social mobility that combines a cultural history of a rapidly changing Britain with an authoritative literary critical analysis of the texts (primarily novels, but also autobiography and drama) that address women’s roles and shifting aspirations across the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries. … Eagleton writes with authority and style, presenting a text that is urgent, compelling, and eminently readable.” (Fiona Tolan, English - Journal of the English Association, February, 15, 2019)


Table of contents (8 chapters)

Table of contents (8 chapters)

Buy this book

eBook $79.99
price for USA in USD (gross)
  • ISBN 978-3-319-71961-0
  • Digitally watermarked, DRM-free
  • Included format: PDF, EPUB
  • ebooks can be used on all reading devices
  • Immediate eBook download after purchase
Hardcover $99.99
price for USA in USD
  • ISBN 978-3-319-71960-3
  • Free shipping for individuals worldwide
  • Immediate ebook access, if available*, with your print order
  • Usually dispatched within 3 to 5 business days.
Softcover $99.99
price for USA in USD
  • ISBN 978-3-319-89125-5
  • Free shipping for individuals worldwide
  • Immediate ebook access, if available*, with your print order
  • Usually dispatched within 3 to 5 business days.
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Bibliographic Information

Bibliographic Information
Book Title
Clever Girls and the Literature of Women's Upward Mobility
Authors
Copyright
2018
Publisher
Palgrave Macmillan
Copyright Holder
The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s)
eBook ISBN
978-3-319-71961-0
DOI
10.1007/978-3-319-71961-0
Hardcover ISBN
978-3-319-71960-3
Softcover ISBN
978-3-319-89125-5
Edition Number
1
Number of Pages
VII, 208
Topics

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