“Stuckness” and the fraying promise of postfeminism in contemporary women’s short stories

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While postfeminism is typically associated with upbeat feelings, such as confidence and resilience, scholars have begun to examine the emergence of less positive feelings alongside the compulsory outward presentation of enthusiasm. This essay examines feelings of “stuckness” in two short stories—“ Would Like to Meet ” (2014) by May-Lan Tan and “ Los Angeles ” (2020) by Emma Cline—and how these feelings illuminate the affective regulation of postfeminism. It also makes the case that the short story is an adept form through which to explore the contradictions of neoliberal femininity and that women short story writers are utilizing the tendencies of the form—particularly in regard to the short story’s ending—to re-create the lingering, non-cathartic feelings produced by the deteriorating promise of postfeminist culture.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbervpad025
JournalContemporary Women's Writing
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 18 Jan 2024

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