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Julie Snyder

Ann Smith (ed.) 2019. The Girl in the Text. New York: Berghahn Books.

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“Hand-Me-Down Habitats”

Bicycles, Youth, and Open Space in the 1970s

Brian Frehner

During the 1970s, young boys rode their bicycles more frequently and in greater numbers than at any other time in the United States’ past. Bicycle riding and racing became so popular in the 1970s that boys fashioned a culture of BMX, also known as bicycle motocross. The style of bicycles and riding that BMXers fashioned quickly grew from a niche within the industry into the most common form of bicycling in the United States. The 1970s has been dubbed the decade of the “bike boom” by industry publications and by historians who have written on the subject. Many factors likely contributed to the increased number of bicycle riders and sales. Most explanations of the increase tend to emphasize the political, economic, and environmental concerns of adults and neglect the role that younger people played in the boom.

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“I’m Going to Be Straight, Just Like How My Father Would’ve Wanted”

Adolescent Male Sexuality, Shame, and Symptoms of Mental Illness in Adam Silvera’s More Happy Than Not and John Corey Whaley’s Highly Illogical Behavior

Emma Salt-Raper

While the increasing visibility of LGBTQ+ identities in recent young adult fiction has received much critical attention, such novels that contain the added complex distinction of adolescent male mental illness and recovery represent an underexamined area. This article produces readings of two recent young adult texts that feature gay male protagonists who experience mental illness: Adam Silvera’s More Happy Than Not (2015) and John Corey Whaley’s Highly Illogical Behaviour (2016). It investigates how the texts’ embedded heteronormative scripts, relationships between the symptoms and the self, and frameworks of health-related shame are fraught with anxieties, producing a complex double movement that simultaneously establishes and undermines gay males’ control over their mental illnesses and recovery trajectories to move the characters between spaces of empowerment and marginalization.

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“Imaginative? More Like Normative”

Masculinities Depicted in Mune: Guardian of the Moon

Jeana Moody

Mune: Guardian of the Moon is a children’s animated film about a series of misadventures resulting in a lighthearted good-versus-evil plotline. This movie attempts to be imaginative and original, and succeeds in some ways, through positioning slight-figured, compassionate, shy Mune as the hero of the story and using dreams of transformation instead of fists to defeat evil. However, it falls short through its stereotypical depictions of masculinities and gendered dynamics. Rather than portraying diverse and alternate ways that masculinity can be performed, Mune utilizes normative gender roles and hegemonic masculinity to emphasize that even small, unassuming young men can adequately fulfill typical masculine leadership roles, so long as they are most powerful and ultimately win the girl.

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Making Men out of Boys

Revisiting Connell through Twenty-First-Century Indian Picturebooks

Sridipa Dandapat and Priyanka Tripathi

With Richa Jha and Gautam Benegal’s picturebook The Unboy Boy (2013), India acquired the notion of alternative masculinity in children’s literature for perhaps the first time, and initiated the depiction in picturebooks of male characters who love soft toys, cook, dance, and dress in a way considered feminine. This article turns the critical lens toward gender codes that form the basis for masculinity discourses. Primarily drawing on Connell’s concept of hegemonic masculinity, it explores how contemporary Indian picturebooks in English are challenging the representation of traditional masculinity. Through the lens of content analysis, this qualitative research adopts a multimodal approach and scrutinizes three other picturebooks: Abba’s Day (2017) by Sunaina Ali and Debasmita Dasgupta, Kali Wants to Dance (2018) by Aparna Karthikeyan and Somesh Kumar, and Guthli Has Wings (2019) by Kanak Shashi.

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Material Moments in Virtual Worlds

Creating Hybrid Spaces for Feminist Consciousness-raising

Syafiqah Abdul Rahim and Hannah Walters

Covid-19 signalled rapid, near-wholesale shifts to the online world, yet how this affected the establishment of supportive, safe spaces for activism has received scant attention. Based on ongoing work with young women and girls in Malaysia, we discuss the pedagogic processes of feminist consciousness-raising as an informal mode of Girlhood Studies education and how online spaces might be reconfigured to enhance the virtual experience through hybrid workshops. Theorized from a feminist new materialist perspective and guided by the principles that feminism is an everyday practice, and feminism is for everybody, we argue that the hybrid space introduced material and sensory elements, facilitated feelings of connectedness, and helped establish a safe space for participants to engage with feminism and girls’ rights in meaningful ways.

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Krishnapriya Kamalakshan and Sumathy K. Swamy

In a heteronormative society, boys and girls are trained to dress and act in ways regarded appropriate for their respective genders. Even during play, a boy is expected to indulge only in activities that are traditionally considered masculine. A. A. Milne was inspired by his son’s pretend play to write the Pooh books. From the illustrations in the book, which were modeled upon the real Christopher Robin and his toys, and various biographical material on the Pooh books, it can be discerned that the young boy was dressed in a gender-nonconforming fashion. This article probes this paradox of gender performativity in Christopher Robin’s character in Winnie-the-Pooh (1926), wherein the child performs acts considered masculine in his imaginative play, while going against gender norms in his real-life appearance.

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Emily R. Aguiló-Pérez and Jacqueline Reid-Walsh

Girlhood Studies, as an academic discipline, is continually growing. Since some educational institutions include girls’ studies as part of a special curriculum, an academic program, a certificate course, a minor, or as part of Women’s Studies or Gender Studies, Girlhood Studies has a presence in academia although at this stage rarely in an autonomous department. This interest in the pedagogies and practices of teaching Girlhood Studies is an important aspect of its growth as a field of study not only at the university level but also in other academic settings and outside of them, be they workshops, special programs for girls, and summer camps, among others. Depending on these formal and informal educational contexts, the discussion of approaches to teaching Girlhood Studies ranges from the theoretical to those that outline hands-on projects that invite and promote the discussion of girlhood. As Claudia Mitchell (2021) states in her editorial “What can Girlhood Studies be?” the research and scholarly work in Girlhood Studies “stands as its own theoretical and practical area” (vi) that warrants its study and teaching and that prompted the production of this special issue on teaching Girlhood Studies.

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Claudia Mitchell

A dream, dating back to 2001 when the late Jackie Kirk, Jacqui Reid-Wash, and I passed through a section labelled Girls Studies in Foyles Books on Charing Cross Rd., London, UK, was that someday there would not only be a journal devoted to girlhood studies but also a whole interdisciplinary teaching area. We talked about how students of youth studies, or childhood studies, or what was then called women’s studies might consider girlhood studies as an option in their programs or as a whole area of specialization. The dream of the journal was realized seven years later with the first issue of Girlhood Studies in 2008. Since then, as the guest editors of this Special Issue on Teaching Girlhood Studies highlight, there have been many initiatives including the development of courses on Girlhood Studies, and community/university activist projects. And now, finally, we have a whole issue devoted to teaching, curricula, and pedagogies of Girlhood Studies.

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Renata Ferdinand

What is the relationship between Black Girlhood Studies and Black Motherhood Studies? In this article I answer this question by considering the ways in which these subjects can be explored together or in relation to each other. Using autoethnography, I describe the process of teaching Black Girlhood Studies with Black Motherhood Studies. Specifically, through narrative and performative writing, I draw upon my own personal experience of using research and scholarship associated with Black Girlhood Studies to inform and provide a foundation for the exploration of Black Motherhood Studies in an effort to promote a fuller, more complete and nuanced understanding of both social positions.