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From American Girls into American Women

A Discussion of American Girl Doll Nostalgia

Molly Brookfield

The American Girl brand of historical dolls and books celebrated its twenty-fifth anniversary in 2011. The girls who first played with American Girl dolls in the 1980s and 1990s are now grown women; their nostalgia for the brand is passionate and complicated, and reminiscences from nineteen such women are the focus of this study. Their nostalgic responses are thoughtful and reflective, at turns unabashedly admiring and astutely critical. The women fondly recall American Girl whilst simultaneously criticizing the company for its consumerism and its representations of American history and American girlhood. Their memories show how nostalgia can be ambivalent and contradictory, and how adults can use childhood nostalgia to reinforce and construct identity narratives.

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Living in a hybrid material world

Girls, ethnicity and mediated doll products

Angharad N. Valdivia

Drawing on a theoretical framework that combines Media Studies, Latina/o Studies, and Girls Studies with the concept of hybridity, I explore American Girl, Dora the Explorer, and Bratz—three mediated doll lines—as manifestations of an ethnic identity crisis that in turns generates a moral panic that seeks to return whiteness and conventional femininity to its normalized mainstream standing. Issues of production, representation, and reception of mediated doll lines illuminate both a synergistic marketing strategy and a contested reception of hybrid mediated dolls. As such, mediated doll lines can be productively examined as they are an excellent vehicle for understanding contemporary agendas over gender, age, class, and ethnicity.

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Sami Schalk

operates in the contemporary fictional books and doll accessories of the American Girl brand through the combined gendered discourses of education, empowerment, and national identity. I argue that disability’s inclusion in the brand is a means of touting

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The Doll “InbeTween”

Online Doll Videos and the Intertextuality of Tween Girl Culture

Jessica E. Johnston

Like many tweens in the late 1990s, I played with American Girl dolls. At the time, I would never have imagined that some years later girls would be filming and uploading videos to YouTube of their dolls dancing to Taylor Swift, sledding in the snow

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Girl Constructed in Two Nonfiction Texts

Sexual Subject? Desired Object?

Mary Ann Harlan

Landscape (hereafter Girls and Sex) and Nancy Jo Sales’s American Girls: Social Media and the Secret Life of Teenagers (hereafter American Girls) were published. These texts received media attention ( Gross 2016a ; Gross 2016b ; Holbrook 2016 ; Levy 2016

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Making It Up

Intergenerational Activism and the Ethics of Empowering Girls

Emily Bent

ethical implications of “our obsession with the exceptional girl” ( Brown 2016: 6 ). Drawing on a decade of involvement with girl-activists and colleagues at the UN, I explore the spectacular environment under which North American girls experience (dis

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Where to from Here?

Emerging Conversations on Girls’ Literature and Girlhood

Dawn Sardella-Ayres and Ashley N. Reese

without any clear theoretical foundation or discernible methodological approach. 4 We discovered our most useful definition of girls’ literature and the North American girl's bildungsroman in Kimberley Reynolds's Children's Literature: A Very Short

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America's Favorite Doll?

Conflicting Discourses of Commodity Activism

Diana Leon-Boys

Book Review Emilie Zaslow. 2017. Playing with America's Doll: A Cultural Analysis of the American Girl Collection. New York: Palgrave Macmillan. Since 1986, the American Girl (AG) line has promoted itself as a company that provides pedagogically

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Claudia Mitchell

English-language North American girls’ literature “within a framework of genre as social action.” In her discussion of “girls’ and non-binary young people's experiences of unwelcome intergenerational encounters in the Helsinki metro underground transport

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Consuming Girlhood

Young Women, Femininities, and American Girl

Elizabeth Marshall

This article offers a textual analysis of how the American Girl corporation markets and sells particular ideas about girlhood to its consumers. Focusing on the historical fictions, catalogues, and website, the author discusses the ways in which the corporation brands girlhood as a set of ideas to purchase. This reading of the American Girl texts is supported with data from a semi-structured interview with eight undergraduate women enrolled in a pre-service education course who read and played with American Girl materials as children. Young women who intend to work as elementary school teachers offer a unique demographic for theorizing American Girl and its role in the everyday lives of girls. The author concludes that for the young women in this study, American Girl materials offered salient lessons in girlhood consumption.