‘Top Girls’ and Other Epithets

  • Mary Eagleton


The clever girls of Caryl Churchill’s and Lucy Prebble’s plays, and Zadie Smith’s NW (2012) are in the world of business, international finance and the law. The texts trace a political economy from ‘Thatcherism’, through the development of neoliberalism, to the global crash of 2007–8. The women create the self that is appropriate to their upward mobility. In this case, as Linda McDowell’s studies of the City illustrate, it is in calculated performances of masculinity and femininity or in the creation of sharply focused, self-managing, neoliberal subjectivities. Those who succeed—‘top girls’, ‘can-do girls’, ‘future girls’—are positioned against those who ‘fail’—the ‘at-risk girls’ and ‘chav-mums’. This tension can be expressed in spatial terms, between the global and the local, home and away, near and far and what these locations mean for success and failure.


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© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mary Eagleton
    • 1
  1. 1.YorkUK

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