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The wounded woman and the parrot: post-feminist girlhood in Alan Warner's "The Sopranos" and Bella Bathurst's "Special"

Schoene, Berthold (2006) The wounded woman and the parrot: post-feminist girlhood in Alan Warner's "The Sopranos" and Bella Bathurst's "Special". Journal of gender studies, 15 (2). pp. 133-144. ISSN 0958-9236

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Abstract

The essay reads two British novels about teenage girls – Alan Warner's The Sopranos (1998) and Bella Bathurst's Special (2002) – within the context of recent sociological Girls' Studies research. Particular attention is given to processes of self-formation, group dynamics, and twenty-first-century girls' attitudes to both traditional femininity and feminist politics. Contrasting a group of working-class girls with a group of middle-class girls, the essay explores the discourse of ‘girl power’ by pitting the post-feminist ideal of the ‘can-do’ girl against the Ophelian spectre of the ‘at-risk’ girl, thus raising issues of low self-esteem as well as the politics of girls' anger and young female ‘re/sisterhood’. Comparing Bathurst's image of wounded femininity to Warner's carnivalesque symbolism of a parrot on the loose, the essay also interrogates the feminist commitment of both texts, especially in relation to Warner's novel as an example of male ‘cross-writing’.

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