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Melinda Luisa de Jesús

Since 2008 I have had the pleasure of teaching Girl Culture at California College of the Arts (CCA), a private art/design college located in the San Francisco Bay Area. This article features student zines from Girl Culture at this college.

Girl Culture is part of the school’s general studies curriculum in the Humanities and Sciences at the upper division (junior and senior) level. The course title comes from Sherrie Inness’s foundational anthology defining American Girlhood Studies in the twentieth century, Delinquents and Debutantes (1998), in which she notes,

"Too often girls’ culture is shunted aside by scholars as less significant or less important than the study of adult women’s issues, but girls’ culture is what helps to create not just an individual woman but all women in our society. (11, emphasis in original)"

Girl Culture explores the myriad forces that have an impact on American girls’ lives today and seeks to identify the places where artists and designers can best advocate for girl-centric liberation, autonomy, and joy.

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“Defining Ourselves for Ourselves”

Black Girls Conceptualize Black Girlhood Online

Cierra Kaler-Jones

Black girls have long created their own subversive and creative forms of curriculum and pedagogy. I explore adolescent Black girls’ suggestions for teaching and learning about Black girlhood online based on a virtual summer arts program called Black Girls S.O.A.R. Through performance ethnography, we contended with our conceptualizations of Black girlhood and identity sense-making. The co-researchers suggested that storytelling, learner-centered pedagogy, and intentional community-building must be central in virtual pedagogy and saw reclaiming girlhood and self-care as two essential topics for teaching Black girlhood content. I also reflect on the tensions and possibilities of co-constructing participatory learning environments with Black girls, particularly as it relates to disrupting power and adultism.

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Gen Ed Girlhood

Artifact-centric Approach Invites New Students to Girlhood Studies

Jen Almjeld

While general education (gen ed) courses are commonly created as overviews of disciplines, a girlhood-centric approach celebrates a tightly focused introduction to girl identities as an entry point to critical analysis of gender and associated systems of oppression. I offer a rationale for my Cultural Constructions of Girlhood course and discuss specific assignments and strategies for introducing girlhood as a field of study for university students. This course offers grounding in how important childhood literature is in shaping our concepts of who we are and are allowed to be as well as indicating ways in which the idea of literature may be expanded and updated to include many modes and styles of text by attending to the artifacts of everyday girlhood.

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Julie Snyder

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

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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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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.

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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.