Representations, Positions, and Perspectives
Rethinking the Influence of Elena Fortún’s Celia
Ana Puchau de Lecea
In this article I consider the characterization of Celia, the protagonist in Elena Fortún’s “Celia and Her World” series (1929–1952), and the role of Fortún as a forerunner of women writers in the 1950s. I explore the ways in which Fortún presented herself as a female author offering alternative models of femininity to her readers through the character Celia and the social context of the series. In addition, I examine Fortún’s shifting representation of Celia as a subversive character, and Fortún’s ideological influence on female writers who used similar literary strategies. Using the point of view of the girl in her texts as an insurgent protagonist to reflect different sociohistorical moments in Spain suggests a continuity in Spanish narrative instead of an abrupt change after the Civil War.
Films, television series, music videos, computer games, social media networks, web pages, newspapers, magazine covers, digital signage, and other pervasive media texts are constantly projecting a barrage of conflicting and influential messages about who girls are, what they should be, and how they should act. In this article, I discuss my work with 10 girl coresearchers (aged between 10 and 13) to analyze media as texts with taken-for-granted meanings that need to be understood, questioned, interrupted, and transformed. I report on how the coresearchers produced a Public Service Announcement (PSA) to represent how girls and girlhood are (mis)represented in well-established and hegemonic media discourses. Findings underscore the importance of providing opportunities for girls to be media creators (not merely consumers or child users) so that the girl in the text can be heard and can express herself in her own ways, on her own terms, and for her own purposes.
Demythologizing Girlhood in Kate Bernheimer’s Trilogy
In this article I position the metaphor of the hope chest at the heart of a trilogy of fairy tale novels, The Complete Tales of Ketzia (2001), The Complete Tales of Merry (2006a) and The Complete Tales of Lucy Gold (2011), by Kate Bernheimer that explore traditions of American girlhood. Deploying psychoanalytic interpretative readings, I investigate the characterization of each of the three sisters. My use of the hope chest (as both a toy and a cultural repository) enables me to offer a fuller picture of the social transition depicted in these novels from childhood into womanhood, and is thus conflated with the idea of the child-woman—a hinge-like cultural figure whom Bernheimer represents metaphorically through boxes of accoutrements containing memories and prophecies. With reference to unpublished interviews with Bernheimer, I support my interpretative reading of her trilogy by invoking and explaining the relevance of literary theories related to caskets.
A Reader, her Texts, and the World
The Girl in the Text in Olemaun’s Residential School Narratives
In the genre of residential school narratives for children, stands out for the determination, courage, and resilience of its narrator, a young girl who chooses to go to a Catholic boarding school, and then draws on both her culture and a British novel, Alice in Wonderland, about a brave girl for strength and resilience. This article traces Olemaun’s journey as she follows Alice into literacy but finds her own methods of resisting colonial oppression and asserting Indigenous agency.
Disrupting Nabokov’s “Aesthetic Bliss”
Since Vladimir Nabokov’s 1955 publication of Lolita, numerous feminist scholars have argued for rereading the novel from the girl’s point of view to understand Lolita not as a sexual agent, but as an incest victim. In this article, I examine how revisionary texts like , , and give voice to the girl in the text, disrupting Nabokov’s “aesthetic bliss” and emphasizing aspects of Lolita’s victimization. Ultimately, I discuss how a contemporary analytical shift from valuing the aesthetics to a consideration of the ethics of the novel has led to restricted critical readings of the narrative, which, nevertheless, remain open through the acknowledgement of the girl’s sexual desire and agency within these female authors’ revisionary texts.
In this article I focus on the graphic narratives Gogi (1970–the present) by Nigar Nazar and Haroon Rashid’s Burka Avenger (2013–the present) in particular to examine the empowering portrayal of Muslim girlhood that these works offer in addition to advocating for the rights of Muslim girls. I emphasize that graphic narratives have become a powerful medium that represents the resistance of Muslim girlhood both in the context of local patriarchies and as a tool to challenge the stereotypical representation of Muslim identities globally. By focusing on the depiction of the girl protagonists in these graphic narratives, I analyze how these artists rework the western superhero trope to foreground the girls’ everyday heroism. Moreover, by situating the interaction of the girls with Pakistani cityscapes, I argue, in terms of De Certeau’s concept of tactics, that the protagonists navigate the Pakistani cities as familiar places rather than as othered spaces.
Exploding Schoolgirl Fictions
In this article I consider the white British and Australian schoolgirl through a notionally comparative study of Enid Blyton’s The Naughtiest Girl in the School (1940–1952) series and the contemporary Go Girl (2005–2012) series, texts spanning my lived experience as girl, mother, and teacher. Through incendiary fragments of memory and media, I, as researcher and writer, seek the girl addressed by these texts and consider the struggles, denials, and ambivalences that produce and are produced by reading the schoolgirl. This girl resists historical determinism, coalescing as contemporaneous past, present, and future as the reader performs her own girlhood through reading and writing. This creative analytical article notices the visual and physical manifestations of texts, as well as their linguistic discourses. Through this work, we perceive postfeminist entanglement in the ongoing re-configuration of the schoolgirl, with implications for policy and practice in education and for cultural and girlhood studies.