Abstract

In this article, we seek to articulate a genre theory-centered definition of girls’ literature, and interrogate its subgenre, the girl's bildungsroman, as contextual, cultural sites of rhetoric regarding girls and girlhood. By exploring English-language North American girls’ literature, we identify it within a framework of genre as social action, tracing the protagonists’ maturation into the socially determined roles of wife and mother. We explore the ways in which the girl's bildungsroman follows a home-away-home model, but with the end result of socially acceptable community integration, rather than the boy's bildungsroman's culmination in heroic independent identity via quests and adventures.

Contributor Notes

Dawn Sardella-Ayres (https://orcid.org/0000-0003-3393-163X) completed a 2018 tenure as the Ofstad Guest Scholar at Truman State University, teaching a course on girls’ literature and the girl's bildungsroman in the United States and Canada. She has published on Alcott, Montgomery, Johnston, and Wilder, and researches issues related to gender and race, as well as the Künstlerroman, in late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century girls’ texts.

Ashley N. Reese (https://orcid.org/0000-0003-2328-2840) is a Digital Teaching Fellow at the University of South Florida. Her research focuses on gender and religion in turn-of-the-century North American girls’ books. She is the author of The Rise of Girls’ Literature (forthcoming).

Girlhood Studies

An Interdisciplinary Journal

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