Multiple Ways of Playing Serena and Blair: How Gossip Girl Revises the Role of Nancy Drew for a New Generation of Desiring-Machines

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Virginia Tech

Previous studies on Cecily von Ziegesar's series Gossip Girl fail to explain the functionality of the series for the actual readers. Therefore, a discussion of the relationship between reader and text is necessary. By explaining from a literary perspective how reader and text interact, we can better understand why teen girls want to read the series and the exchanges that occur between the books and the readers. An exploration of how Gossip Girl relates to its series predecessors, like Nancy Drew, demonstrates how the popularity of Gossip Girl is not unique, but rather fits in with the established series pattern while receiving the same harsh criticism. As a result of analyzing the "bad" reputation Gossip Girl has earned, we can explicate how the series is currently seen to operate for the reader, questions left open when simply looking at series books historically. This exploration of the books as carriers of ideology examines how and if readers are invited to participate in a relationship with the text.

However, simple reader-response theories only replicate a static relationship between reader and text. By also using a Deleuzo-Guattarian approach to the series, an understanding of how Gossip Girl acts as an "apparatus of capture" built on social conditions while still allowing the reader minimal agency for the channeling of energy/desiring flows can be found. These approaches work in conjunction in order to address the engagement readers experience with the Gossip Girl texts, which, in turn, help elucidate the phenomenon associated with von Ziegesar's books.

Guattari, Gossip Girl, desiring-machine, Nancy Drew, popular culture, Deleuze, YA literature, apparatus of capture, series books, multiplicities