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  The Printing Press is the English Department Newsletter. Its purpose it to inform majors and minors about programs and activities within the department. The Press will inform readers of activities and opportunities outside of Monmouth College. For any questions or submissions, contact the Printing Press Crew at,,



In This Issue:

Chicks Dig It:

A Guy Reads A Bunch Of 'Chick-Lit'

By Alex Nall

Alex Nall


     Whenever someone asks me, “Hey, what did you read this summer?” I become infuriated because my initial response is always “Not enough!” That was the case this summer, yet again. I made a vow to myself at the beginning of summer to read the classics: Hemingway, Kerouac, maybe some Homer if I could squeeze it in. This plan changed when a friend handed me a book and said, “Read this. You’ll like it.” The name of the book was The Girls’ Guide To Hunting and Fishing by Melissa Bank. I looked at the book and rolled my eyes, but not wanting to be rude, said I would “try it out.”            

    The book’s protagonist is Jane, who throughout the seven stories in the collection, ages in a non-linear model. At the beginning, she’s fourteen observing her brother’s torrid relationship from afar, then she is in her mid-twenties, dealing with the woes of her own relationship issues, and in the last three stories she moves in and out of a decaying relationship with an older man as she ages.            

     On first look of the book’s synopsis I only had one phrase in my head: Chick Lit. That fabled genre of pseudo-prose infused with slop dialogue and ridiculous situations (Twilight fans can stop reading now if they wish). At least that’s the impression I went in with when starting out on this new literary adventure. Surprisingly, I was enthralled by Jane’s commitment woes, her scandalous and even saucy relationship with an older man, her struggle with saying goodbye to her terminally-ill father and the short terse sentences that spoke bluntly to her audience: “That night, alone with all those empty beds, I couldn’t fall asleep. I’d finished Gatsby and I looked out at the lagoon, hoping to see a green light. But nobody’s dock was lit up. Only one house had any lights on, and the light was just the blue of a television set” (43). It was dialogue like this that spoke to me as a person, rather than a male reader. I was able to identify with the anxiety, confusion and bursts of joy in Jane’s sporadic life. So I continued to read more “chick lit” and see what else I could find.           

     I returned to a novella I had read in high school only because it’s author, Steve Martin, was a really funny guy who was really funny. The novella was Shopgirl and much like Bank’s story collection, the prose was short, but formulated a deep sense of awareness of the loneliness in all humans: “Weekends can be dangerous for someone of Mirabelle’s fragility. One little slipup in scheduling and she can end up staring at eighteen hours of television” (23). The image of Mirabelle, waiting at the counter at the glove department at Marcus Neiman’s, hoping something will happen that will make her life start, stays instilled in my head for its haunting universal outreach. I wondered, after quickly revisiting Mirabelle and company, if the male reader has completely misinterpreted the definition of chick lit. Surely, all these books focused around contemporary women’s lives couldn’t all be about the hardships of loneliness.            

     Once again, I found that this seemed to be the cause in Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar, an autobiographical novel so emasculating the reader is left haunted by Esther’s total lack of faith or sanity in herself or the figurative “bell jar” world she is trapped in: “I knew I should be grateful to Mrs. Guinea, only I couldn’t feel a thing. If Mrs. Guiena had given me a ticket to Europe, or a round the world cruise, it wouldn’t have made one scrap or difference to me, because wherever I sat- on the deck of a ship or at a street café in Paris or Bangkok- I would be sitting under the same glass bell jar, stewing in my own sour air” (175). Plath’s novel let me see into the challenges of women suffering from depression, just as Martin’s Mirabelle and Bank’s Jane allowed me to see the fixations and consciousness of women in contemporary literature.            

     But none of these characters’ issues could amount to that of Sethe in Toni Morrison’s Beloved, which ended my summer reading tour. The heartbreak and loneliness that Sethe suffers arises from the ghosts of her daughter and slavery, which take hold of her during the novel’s climax and almost squeeze every ounce of life out of her. Morrison’s novel brought to bay my newfound theory that the books I had been reading weren’t books about depressed women, but were documents emphasizing the psychological effects of different lifestyles, be it Jane’s get-the-man now agenda, Mirabelle’s post-grad wandering, Esther’s struggle to rise to literary fame, or Sethe’s racially-scorned past.

     After this experiment was over, I found myself revisiting some works of feminine literature, finding things in them that I hadn’t before. It occurred to me as I write this, that Jane Austen satirized the “romance novels” so heavily adored by women of her time in Northanger Abbey. If there is one thing I came out learning from this experience, it’s this: books about women aren’t novelized versions of Sex and The City episodes. Lovers of literature—and male doubters, much like myself—should take note that “chick lit” is thrown around too easily by the seemingly “girly” subject matter and deceptive misinterpretations. The puritan poet, Anne Bradstreet, said it best: “For such despite they cast on female wits: If what I do prove well, it won’t advance, They’ll say it’s stol’n, or else it was by chance.” The alluring contrivance of “chick lit” is that it isn’t about “chicks” at all, but is instead a unisex form of literature that allows readers to look into the social, historic and modern complications of the conflicts between humans today.

Gendered Books: Why Girls Have Them and Guys Don't

By Leanna Waldron


While discussing books with a few friends a couple of weeks ago, something one of them said struck me.

“There’s no such thing as ‘guy books’.”

At first I was shocked by the sheer wrongness of this statement. What about sci-fi, spy and adventure novels? What about the ‘heroic quest’ and monsters and dragons? I insisted that there were, indeed, ‘guy books'.

But that got me thinking that I actually love those kinds of books. I mean, give me dragons and epic battles over high school drama and romance any day. I also know that many of my female friends feel the same way. Yet if you ask most guys (and I’m definitely qualifying here by saying “most”) if they’ve read Libba Bray’s Gemma Doyle trilogy or Scott Westerfeld’s Uglies series, they would probably say no.

Uglies by Scott WesterfeldEragon by Christopher PaoliniA Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba BrayThe Lightning Thief

Both of these series are in the fantasy or science-fiction genre and both have a lot of action, conspiracy and adventure. So why are these books labeled “girl books” and avoided by men while women are able to read books like the Percy Jackson series without worrying about the gender label being put on them?

I can’t help but wonder if it’s the main characters that are really to blame, not the genre. It seems to me that men don’t relate to strong female characters the way that females can relate to strong characters of either gender. If given a choice, I feel that most men would pick up Eragon before they picked up City of Bones.

Personally, almost all of my favorite literary characters are male: Severus Snape of J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series, Odd Thomas of Dean Koontz’s Odd Thomas series, Roland Deschain of Stephen King’s Dark Tower series. To me, these characters are characters first and men second. I relate to them based on personality and not on what gender they are.  So why does it seem that men don’t feel the same way?

The gender question is always a difficult one to answer, and I don’t think we’re going to come to any clear conclusions anytime soon. It could have something to do with gender stereotypes and the male ego, but I like to think that our society is past that at this point. Honestly, I feel it could be something as simple and shallow as the cover art and design of the novels.

The reason this concerns me so much is that the literary trend, especially with Young Adult fiction, is gravitating more and more towards using female narrators and protagonists. If this trend continues, and if men continue to be repelled by female main characters, men are going to stop reading altogether. Okay, so maybe this is a slight exaggeration, but I fully believe that there will be a swift decline in the number of male fiction readers if these trends continue.

There’s probably no easy way to answer any of these questions and, as I said, we will probably not come to any clear conclusions any time soon. However, I believe that talking about it and drawing attention to it, not only as readers, but as English majors, as future teachers, publishers and writers, is the first step we have to take to, if not remedy, at least understand this situation.

Survey Says!!!!

"Who Is Your Favorite Female Character In Literature?"

Janie in Zora Neale Hurston's Their Eyes Were Watching God 

She grew into such a beautiful being on the inside as well as the out and found a way to stand on her own two feet without the assistance or need for approval from others.

She's my she-ro.

- Fannetta Jones


My favorite female character in literature is Jane Eyre from Charlotte Bronte's book Jane Eyre. I like her because she is an intelligent and driven young woman who is more admired for her personality than her beauty. Also she stands up for herself and speaks her mind.

-Katie Struck



"Molly Millions," from Neuromancer and Other Works by William Gibson. 

-Alex Kane





Briony Tallis from Ian McEwan's Atonement. What can I say, I like the evil ones.

-Melissa Bankes




Scout, from To Kill a Mockingbird. To Kill a Mockingbird

-Brandon T. Groom





Guinevere is my favorite female character in literature. Guinevere

-Robert Cook

House of Night
Zoey Redbird from The House of Night series.

-Amanda Neubauer



Scarlett O'Hara

-Lauren Becker


Lisbeth Salander from The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo series by Stieg Larsson :)

-Emily Isaacs






Morgaine Le Fay- The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley

-Kate Bradshaw

Tough to come up with just one, and I know I am forgetting many in my rapid brain scan.  Ruby Thewes from Cold Mountain comes to mind, very funny and complex character in the book.
Cold Mountain
Also, Scout Finch in Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird, but it was too obvious maybe so I came up with an alternative.

-Ryan Bronaugh



Harry Potter and the Half Blood PrinceHm. There are so many to choose from! But, I'd probably have to pick Luna Lovegood from the Harry Potter series. I think she's not only goofy and hilarious, but super smart and wise beyond her years. She's just all-around amazing. In a book series full of awesome male characters (Snape, Sirius, Lupin) she really shines.

-Leanna Waldron




Elena, from the Banned and the Banished series by James Clemens.Witchfire

-Derek Keist


The Silk Spectre from Watchmen. Yowza!

-Alex Nall










  • Come out to Sulci, the poetry group on campus, Thursdays @ 10pm in the Great Room of the Mellinger Center. Share and read some of your favorite poems or read one of your own!  For more information, contact Marcus Bailey at

  • September 25th- October 2nd is Banned Book Week, so celebrate by reading your favorite literary troublemaker such as To Kill A Mockingbird, Howl, I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings, or even your favorite Dr. Suess book! For more information on banned books visit:



Writing Center  


3:00-5:00 pm Monday - Thursday
7:00-10:00 pm Sunday - Thursday

Alex Nall

Leanna Waldron

Megan Zaubi


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