|Title of host publication||The Encyclopedia of Twentieth-Century Fiction|
|Publication status||Published - 2010|
“Chicklit” and “ladlit” are two terms that have become inextricably linked: it could be argued that “chicklit” spawned the need for the term “ladlit,” but if one looks at representative works of fiction in each genre, one discovers important critical distinctions. “Chicklit” is the descriptive term used to categorize a highly successful romantic fiction genre that came into being in the wake of the success of Helen Fielding's Bridget Jones's Diary (1996). Earlier references to chicklit carried different connotations than those now associated with the term: in particular Cris Mazza and Jeffrey DeShell's anthology Chick Lit: Postfeminist Fiction (1995) deployed the term ironically to indicate that the writings in their collection went beyond the normal themes associated with feminist fiction. Interestingly, this perceived tension between chicklit and feminism has endured, even while feminism haunts its subtexts like a guilty conscience. “Chick” in the context of chick lit is mobilized as playful and “postmodern”; others would take it more literally, and critics applied it to suggest that such fiction is retrogressively feminine. Bridget Jones's Diary remains for most the touchstone of what chicklit is, even though it could be argued to be the exception to this classification – the paradigm in a genre that almost universally lacks the irony of tone adopted in Bridget Jones's Diary.