Professor Stephanie Harzewski, of the English department at the University of New Hampshire, is joining the modern phenomenon of "chick literature" with her new book published last semester titled The New Novel of Manners: Chick Lit and Postfeminism. Professor Harzewski's published work is more than a collection of her thoughts; it is a coming of age accomplishment to her.
After attending Vassar College for her bachelor's, Rutgers University for her master's, and finishing her Ph.D at the University of Pennsylvania in 2006, Professor Harzewski studied various topics in woman's studies and English.
The dissertation for her Ph.D was one of the hardest and most emotional pieces that she has ever had to write.
"It was the piece that marked the death of my student career and was challenging, filled with anxiety," she said.
This process led to her eventual publication of the book. Her schooling also led to fellowships given to her by the Ford Foundation, Kosiuscko Foundation, and the University of Pennsylvania, which gave her time to write and not worry about finances.
"This was like throwing water into a pool without seeing the sides," she said, explaining that she had so much time to do what she loved, but had felt nervous because of it.
The pressure and anxiety in writing happens all the way up until she is 85 percent done with a piece, and then and only then will she know that it will be finished, she explained. Harzewski stated that she could laugh at her anxiety and pressure when her book was finished and its manuscript printed.
She claimed that when she opened the first copy of her book, she went straight to acknowledgments page to make sure they were correct. "I know it sounds cliché," she said, laughing. "But, the best part, and the most accomplishing, was the process of creating this book from scratch, not the final product."
"Chick Lit and Postfeminism is written in a clear, readable style and is a solid book that will be read with interest and no doubt taken up and debated," said Tania Modleski, University of Southern California, in a critique of Harzewski's studies of chick literature.
In her published work, Harzewski specializes in analyzing books such as Sex and The City, "Bridget Jones Diary, and The Devil Wears Prada. According to Harzewski, these are some of the most current examples of new age romance and bildungsroman in chick literature.
"Books are reminders of who we once were and who we have become," Harzewski said. Harzewski talked of romance versus autonomy and the constant battle women have between the two. She said that writers have the control over what they write, but not how people will interpret it. "We live in a very media controlled world, and the pressure from publishers to sell your book can be harsh," she said.
"The protagonist will always be okay by looking towards the future for an intriguing quest," Harzewski said.
Harzeweski said that the book marks a true personal as well as professional milestone.
"The actual paper of my Ph.D meant nothing to me, it was in an awful frame and I did not find it an accomplishment, " Harzewski said. "This book was something that proved my hard work and that is something that will stay with me and that no one can change."