Clever Girls and the Literature of Women’s Upward Mobility by Mary Eagelton
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. A public discourse of ‘opportunity’, ‘aspiration’ and ‘choice’ is often experienced as an anxious and chancy process. In a wide-ranging study, the book discusses the challenge to femininity and women’s embodiment; the pressures of class and racial divisions; the new subjectivities of the neoliberal era; and the generational conflict underpinning austerity. In so doing, this study explores one of the dominant social narratives of the post-war period.