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Teaching to Survive

Keeping Black Girls and Black Girlhood Studies on Campus

Tammy C. Owens

It has been a hard-fought battle to secure Black Girlhood Studies as an essential college course that examines Black experiences of American childhood. To ensure its survivability, I argue that scholars must establish many homes for Black Girlhood Studies beyond Gender Studies and Black Studies departments. Further, given the illegibility of Black girls as youthful or innocent children, scholars must advocate for Black Girlhood Studies as a college course in academic departments or programs in which Black girls are potentially subjects of faculty or student research. I draw on my experiences teaching Black Girlhood Studies as a Black woman professor and ground my analysis in Black feminist conversations that emerged during the twentieth century to solidify Black Women’s Studies in the academy.

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Toward Black Girl Futures

Rememorying in Black Girlhood Studies

Ashley L. Smith-Purviance, Sara Jackson, Brianna Harper, Jennifer Merandisse, Brittney Smith, Kim Hussey, and Eliana Lopez

Black Girlhood Studies provide an authentic vantage point for the narratives and experiences of young Black girls today. Black women working alongside Black girls play a central role in the development of the field, yet their narratives and experiences as former Black girls remain decentered. Using autoethnography, we describe the experiences of seven community-engaged Black women scholars, including one professor who teaches Black Girlhood Studies courses and is the co-creator of a virtual space for middle school Black girls called Black Girl Magic (BGM), and six undergraduate students who are enrolled in the course and/or serve as BGM co-facilitators. We discuss how teaching, learning, and practicing Black Girlhood Studies shapes a collective rememorying process for Black women seeking to make their girlhood experiences legible.

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When You See Us, See Us

Black Girl Futurity and Liberation

Taryrn T.C. Brown

Battle, Nishaun. Black Girlhood, Punishment, and Resistance: Reimagining Justice for Black Girls in Virginia. New York: Routledge, 2020.

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“Who Were You?”

Temporality and Intergenerational Empathy in Community Girlhood Studies

Sarah Winstanley and Alexe Bernier

While Girlhood Studies is an emerging field of academic study, knowledge about how to work with girls in the community has long been evolving. As community social workers doing critical, gender-transformative work with girls, we trained adult women volunteers in gender-specific girls’ programs. Pedagogically rooted in popular education, our training approach, in drawing on volunteers’ own memories of girlhood, evoked a diversity of stories, lived experiences, and understandings of how their lives were affected by systemic forces. In this article, we illustrate how explicating the temporality of girlhood with women can facilitate the interrogation of their own internalized sexism and adultism, and how building intergenerational empathy serves as a tool for reshaping adult women’s ability to work collaboratively with and build relationships with girls.

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Claudia Mitchell

This issue of Girlhood Studies: An Interdisciplinary Journal, while unthemed in the sense that it comes out of an Open Call, reminds us that a foundational principle of Girlhood Studies remains one of contesting and challenging inequities. Furthermore, how girls themselves might, under some circumstances, take up critical issues in their lives is evident in these contributions. Each of the contributors has placed front and centre the idea of contesting. Recently in a publications panel at a graduate student conference, participants, eager to get their work published, wanted to know more about this journal. Two of their questions stand out. “May the articles be quantitative as well as qualitative?” and “Is it enough that at least half of my participants are girls?” This collection of articles responds beautifully to these questions in offering an affirmative to the question about quantitative and qualitive data when the point is to use appropriate evidence to contest gender norms, and a negative to being about representation in terms of simply including girls.

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Doing the Fairy Tale Quest

Contesting the Author in the Video Game Jenny LeClue: Detectivú

Stephanie Harkin


Despite the encouragement of women's and girls’ curiosity in matriarchal and oral fairy tale traditions, their patriarchal print production in Western Europe reframed this trait as undesirable. Fairy tale print productions also troubled the tales’ transformative and communal form in establishing versions that would receive ongoing duplication by attaching prominent authorial figures. In this article, I investigate the teen girl detective game as a format that reflects upon and updates these values. Taking Mografi's Jenny LeClue: Detectivú as my case study, I interpret the text as a postmodern fairy tale revision that unsettles the master narrative and the notion of the singular authorial figure. The game encourages the player's active investigatory participation while presenting a narrative that invites collaboration and a critique of the conservative author.

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Kathleen Ralls


Since sport extends well beyond the routine of practice and competition and leads to the development of skills that affect other areas of life, my study explored whether girl athletes experience greater voice empowerment as a result of playing sport. The term voice empowerment is unique to traditional leadership and character programming; it emerged from recent scholarship in the fields of education, sport, and psychology. In this study, 30 Ethiopian girl athletes aged 13 to 18 completed a 24-item questionnaire that focused on the constructs of sport, voice, and gender equity. My findings suggest that sport along with emotional and academic support, coupled with an effective life skills program, does affect voice empowerment.

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“Honestly, Anywhere that I Have Wi-Fi”

A Posthuman Approach to Young Women's Activist Blogging

Lindsay C. Sheppard and Rebecca Raby


We add to the scholarship on young women's online activism using a Baradian framework to explore the material-discursive contexts that co-create the meanings and possibilities of their activism. Through a diffractive methodology, we delve into key moments from blogs and interviews with bloggers to discuss two emerging themes. First, we offer an understanding of activist girl blogger subjectivities as intra-actively embedded and remade in material-discursive contexts of girlhood, artist, and celebrity in a neoliberal digital culture that valorizes social media influencers. Second, we examine the related entanglements of discourses-materialities-time-space-bodies, and the human and non-human agencies that co-constitute young women's activist blogging. Overall, we illustrate the potential of a Baradian approach for understanding the human and more-than-human complexities of young women's activist blogging and activist subjectivities.

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Imagining the Girl Effect

An Ethnography of Corporate Social Responsibility

Carolina Garcia

Kathryn Moeller. 2018. The Gender Effect: Capitalism, Feminism, and the Corporate Politics of Development. Oakland, CA. University of California Press.

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Yan Du


The Anthology of Chinese Fictions on Adolescent Girls’ Psychology (2016) is one of the most renowned collections of girls’ stories in Chinese children's literature. Authored by Qin Wenjun, Cheng Wei, and Chen Danyan, it is often associated with the rise of shaonǚ xiaoshuo (girls’ fiction) in China. In this article, I evaluate the collective writing practices of the women authors mentioned above, focusing, in particular, on how their featured stories address intergenerational dissent and explore models of communication between adolescent girls and women. Highlighting how The Anthology traverses the age divide in a time during which both children's literature and the lives of teenagers underwent significant shifts, I intend to further scholarly understandings of Chinese girls’ fiction as a unique literary phenomenon.