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Girls: Notes on authenticity, ambivalence and imperfection

Gill, R. (2017). Girls: Notes on authenticity, ambivalence and imperfection. In: Nash, M. & Whelehan, I. (Eds.), Reading Lena Dunham’s Girls. (pp. 225-242). Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan. doi: 10.1007/978-3-319-52971-4


This interesting collection makes a valuable contribution to the growing body of literature about Girls, and the wider popular cultural engagement (in journalism, on social media) with the HBO series, currently numbering five seasons. Discussions have focussed on the racial politics and exclusions of the show (e.g. Stewart, 2012; Wortham, 2012; Watson, Mitchell, & Shaw, 2015); on class, work and generation (e.g. the normalisation of unpaid internships as the entry-level route into employment for young people in North America (Lowrey, 2013; Shade & Jacobson, 2015); on questions of Lena Dunham’s reflexive ‘auteurship’ and the ‘political economy’ of the series as flagship in HBO’s attempt to attract a youthful, college educated, female audience (Nygaard, 2013); and – of course – on the issue of how the series is situated politically and ideologically in relation to feminism (Fuller & Driscoll, 2015). This collection develops some of these arguments, whilst also generating new work centred on education (Witherington, chapter ?) and the role of music in Girls (Sergeant, chapter ?). Mostly, however, it foregrounds an overlapping but slightly different set of issues centred – as I see it - on the body, sex and intimacy, and postfeminism. It is on these themes that I reflect in this concluding essay, as well as on questions of authenticity, vulnerability and imperfection. I draw on my readings of the chapters that make up this book; various forms of media by and about Lena Dunham, including her memoir Not That Kind of Girl; and my own engagement with the show.

Publication Type: Book Section
Additional Information: Reproduced with permission of Palgrave Macmillan. This extract is taken from the author's original manuscript and has not been edited. The definitive, published, version of record is available here:
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
H Social Sciences > HQ The family. Marriage. Woman
Departments: School of Policy & Global Affairs > Sociology & Criminology
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