Emilie Zaslow. 2017. Playing with America’s Doll: A Cultural Analysis of the American Girl Collection. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.
Conflicting Discourses of Commodity Activism
Spectacle and Spectatorship in The Hunger Games
Catherine Driscoll and Alexandra Heatwole. 2018. The Hunger Games: Spectacle, Risk and the Girl Action Hero. London: Routledge.
Anne Boleyn has been narrativized in Young Adult (YA) historical fiction since the nineteenth century. Since the popular Showtime series The Tudors (2007–2010) aired, teenage girls have shown increased interest in the story of Anne Boleyn, Henry VIII’s second and most infamous queen. This construction of Boleyn suggests that she was both celebrated and punished for her proto-feminist agency and forthright sexuality. A new subgenre of Boleyn historical fiction has also recently emerged—YA novels in which her story is rewritten as a contemporary high school drama. In this article, I consider several YA novels about Anne Boleyn in order to explore the relevance to contemporary teenage girls of a woman who lived and died 500 years ago.
In this article I discuss girls’ and non-binary young people’s experiences of unwelcome intergenerational encounters in the Helsinki metro underground transport network. I foreground a theoretical conception of the metro as an urban space in which the material is deeply intertwined with the political and as a space with its own racialized, gendered, and age-based hierarchies. Calling on the work of Sara Ahmed, I investigate how girls and non-binary young people make meaning of unwanted emotional encounters in the metro space and how they use and adopt certain material and digital strategies that Helena Saarikoski calls young feminine choreographies, to cope in these situations. This article is based on interviews with girls and non-binary young people who were then between 16 and 17 years of age.
The Construction of Gender in a Rural Scottish School
Fiona G. Menzies and Ninetta Santoro
In this article we examine the influence of rurality on the construction of masculinity and femininity for, and by, pupils in a rural secondary school in Scotland. Using data from semi-structured interviews with male and female pupils and a teacher, as well as observations of classroom interactions over a period of 12 months, we highlight how girls take up multiple and complex gendered identities in a rural context and we emphasize the tensions they experience as they negotiate a feminine identity in a rural space constructed and described as masculine. Findings suggest that this construction is, at times, supported by teachers’ practices and their interactions with pupils. We conclude by discussing the implications for teachers in rural schools and point to the need to support girls to ensure that their educational opportunities are not limited by the deep-rooted associations that exist between rurality and masculinity.
Statutory Rape or Postfeminism in Pretty Little Liars?
In this article I explore the highly problematic but wildly acclaimed romantic relationship between Aria Montgomery, a high school junior, and her English teacher Ezra Fitz in the television series Pretty Little Liars. This partnership normalizes gendered power imbalances often common to heterosexual partnerships, yet fervent fans have supported the duo enthusiastically, dubbing the couple #Ezria in blogs and social media. As we know, much research shows that along with unintended pregnancy, young girls who are victims of child sexual abuse by adult males suffer from depression. These outcomes are not shown in Pretty Little Liars: the series ends with Aria marrying her teacher in an example of a happily-ever- after ending, thereby reinforcing postfeminist ideas that Aria’s self-efficacy has never been compromised. I argue that in the era of #Metoo, the exploration of power in heterosexual romantic relationships on television shows aimed at adolescent girl audiences is a site for critical analysis.
Solveig Roth and Dagny Stuedahl
In this article, we examine the case history of a young multi-ethnic Norwegian girl, whom we call Anna, from the age of 15 to 17 to show how her self-understanding of positionings within her educational transitions illustrates how gendered expectations in a Norwegian context influence girls’ future trajectories. We use the concepts of social positional identities in figured worlds and performativity to explore self-understanding. Anna’s case history illustrates how gender performativity comes about out of a complex web of family, school, and societal expectations. We discuss the tensions Anna experienced in her educational trajectory and the changes in her performative positioning when she entered upper secondary school. We consider the ways in which this had implications for her future life trajectory and offer suggestions to educators on how to understand and support the different learning trajectories of multi-ethnic students.
Disrupting Normative Notions
In this article, I look at how comics aimed at young readers can serve to disrupt normative notions, gendered binaries, and fixed designations through featuring, or focusing on, queer girlhoods. In doing so I consider two contemporary series, Ms. Marvel and Lumberjanes. I contextualize these titles against aspects of the publishing of comics, before analyzing some of the narratives and characters in the texts in relation to queer girlhoods. I conclude that the comics offer different approaches and, therefore, differentiated reading experiences for the young readers who engage with them, but that they also form part of a wider grouping of titles that offer diverse images of young people embracing affiliations going beyond family and nation.
In this article, I explore the use of space in Andrea Arnold’s Fish Tank and Céline Sciamma’s Bande de Filles, two films that depict the experiences of 15-year-old girls in a British housing estate and a Parisian banlieue respectively. The spatial motifs related to identity that circulate throughout the films establish a regime of flux, ambiguity, and reversibility that contributes to a depiction of female adolescence as unfixed and unsettled. I argue that both films, in their focus on the lived experience of their protagonists, investigate the landscape of economically and socially peripheral spaces to develop a specifically female approach to contemporary coming-of-age narratives that takes into account the difference that gender makes.
This first issue of Girlhood Studies in 2020 brings together a collection of articles and reviews that pose, as a whole, critical questions about the ways in which conventional yet imaginative textual genres such as literature, film, and comics can sometimes line up in fascinating ways with the imaginative texts of space and place in the metro underground transport network of Helsinki or the farming communities of Scotland.