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Barbara Roche Rico

ABSTRACT

In this article I examine the representation of bullying in Felita (1979) and Going Home (1986), two novels by Nicholasa Mohr, an important but critically overlooked author of the Puerto Rican Diaspora. Using material from current research in the social sciences as well as a close reading of the texts, I explore the emergence of the female subject from behind her self-definition as a victim of girl-bullying. The girl’s involvement with art enables her to move from the role of object to that of subject. That involvement not only counteracts the negative effects of bullying but also brings the girl to a deeper understanding of her culture and herself. That the author would then reengage bullying episodes from these novels in a memoir written later provides a powerful example of the author’s writing back to the tween whose experiences inspired her work.

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The Girl

Dead

Fiona Nelson

ABSTRACT

The dead girl genre of Young Adult (YA) literature is characterized by dying or recently deceased female narrators and/or central characters who embark on exciting new adventures once dying or dead, often find that they are now listened to and taken seriously, and generally find true love and satisfying sexual experiences. My concern is with these books as artifacts of a culture that allows little to no sexual agency or subjectivity for (living) teenaged girls and young women. In addition, we increasingly hear of cases of young women being harassed and bullied for their sexual activity, sometimes to the point of suicide. Based on a content analysis of these books, I consider the questions of how it is that dead has come to be promoted as a viable sexual subject position for young women, and how these books might actually nurture a culture of bullying and suicide.

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Girl Constructed in Two Nonfiction Texts

Sexual Subject? Desired Object?

Mary Ann Harlan

ABSTRACT

In 2016 two nonfiction titles exploring girls and sexuality and presentations of the sexual self received extensive media attention, thus shaping a construction of girl in popular media. In this article I examine how Nancy Jo Sales’s American Girls: Social Media and the Secret Lives of Teenagers and Peggy Orenstein’s Girls and Sex: Navigating the Complicated New Landscape construct girls as sexual subjects and desired objects. In a close reading of the texts I consider how the authors constitute girl and the ways in which girls navigate society’s expectations and constructions of them as sexual subjects. I use the words of girls themselves to examine the dissonance between authorial constructions and the post-feminist culture that emerges in the texts on the one hand, and the girls’ language on the other.

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The Girl in the GIF

Reading the Self into Girlfriendship

Akane Kanai

ABSTRACT

In this article, I explore the practice of reading as a form of social participation in girlhood in digital spaces. Positioning girlhood as the circulation of particular discourses and affects, I consider a set of six self-representative blogs authored by young women on the microblogging platform Tumblr, and the affective and discursive positions they invite through their address to readers. Adapted from a central blog named WhatShouldWeCallMe, these blogs use GIFs (looping, animated images) and captions to articulate feelings and reactions relating to everyday situations that readers, addressed as girlfriends, are expected to recognize and relate to as common experience. I suggest that readers’ aesthetic and social participation in the circulation of these texts is key to the formation of digital publics in which readers come to recognize themselves as girls through calls to common feeling.

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The Girl in the Text

Representations, Positions, and Perspectives

Ann Smith

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Girl, Interrupted and Continued

Rethinking the Influence of Elena Fortún’s Celia

Ana Puchau de Lecea

ABSTRACT

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.

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Claudia Mitchell

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Paula MacDowell

ABSTRACT

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.

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Hope Chest

Demythologizing Girlhood in Kate Bernheimer’s Trilogy

Catriona McAra

ABSTRACT

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.

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Keeping her Feet on the Ground

A Reader, her Texts, and the World

Teresa Strong-Wilson