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Martin Woodside

Westerns channeled nascent ideas of American adolescence into a unique vision of empowered American boyhood. Mapping the frontier as a space for youth, these texts troubled nineteenth-century age categories, establishing the dime novel as an ideological

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Amy Singer

In this article I propose a different way of reading children's novels by identifying types of stories that implicate social structures in their representation of inequality. My analysis focuses on children's novels in order to develop two distinct categories of stories, differentiating between narratives that reinforce the status quo and narratives that challenge it. I illustrate my contention that a subversive story makes visible connections between social power and inequality. To that end, I examine two case studies—Laura Ingalls Wilder's Little House on the Prairie and Carol Ryrie Brink's Caddie Woodlawn—to demonstrate how these analytical categories bring to light key differences between two texts which have been subjected to other kinds of comparative analysis, appear to share so much, and are regularly discussed as being good books for girls.

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“You are exactly my brand of heroin(e)“

Convergences and Divergences of the Gothic Literary Heroine

Julianne Guillard

What brand of heroine can be found in the Twilight series? What discernible characteristics of a heroine can be found in gothic fiction and do these characteristics contribute to a social definition of girlhood/womanhood? In an analysis of the Twilight series' protagonist as a gothic heroine in contrast to Charlotte Brontë's Jane Eyre, I claim that the author, Stephenie Meyer, constructs a particular category of contemporary gothic heroine. Drawing on the statement made by the novel's leading male character, Edward, to Bella that she is his “brand of heroin,“ this article plays with the idea that Meyer merged elements of the bildungsroman and the Female Gothic to create her brand. This brand of heroine fulfills the three distinct categories of girlhood/womanhood that characterize both the Gothic novel and the bildungsroman: a dependent stage, a caretaker stage, and a wife stage.

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Visible on Our Own Terms

Evoking Girlhood Self-Images Through Photographic Self-Study

Rosalind Hampton and Rachel Desjourdy

Photographic self-study can promote professional growth and deepen analysis of how girlhood experiences such as those related to ability, class, gender, and race are conditioned by and inform our multiple, shifting identities as women. This article presents excerpts from three women's experiences of photographic self-study, highlighting the possibilities of this method as a malleable, feminist approach to critical reflexive practice. Our stories demonstrate how a creative process of self-interpretation, self-representation, and self-knowing can draw oppressive categories of self-identification-carried from girlhood-to the surface and expose them to critique and deconstruction.

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The Preludes to Migration

Anticipation and Imaginings of Mexican Immigrant Adolescent Girls

Lilia Soto

This article explores the immigrant journeys of Mexican immigrant adolescent girls raised in transnational families. Based on interviews conducted with this young cohort I examine how they experienced migration long before they neared the United States-Mexico border. Using a transnational approach to migration and the intersections of gender and age as analytical categories, I highlight how Mexican immigrant adolescent girls are uniquely situated within their families so as to have a different set of experiences from men, women, and adolescent boys. Their stories reveal that before migration their lives were saturated, because of their parents' departures and visits, with anticipation and imaginings about Napa Valley, California, and with interruptions of migration. Their lives always seemed to be on the brink of migration. This also means that the very reason for their parents' migration—to better provide for their children—placed the children en route, as it were, to the United States.

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School-Imposed Labeling and the School-to-Prison Pipeline

Symbolic Violence on the Bodies of Boys of Color in One “No Excuses” Charter School

L. Trenton S. Marsh

Historical, socially constructed notions of Black and Latino masculinity, mis/labeled behavior, punitive policies (e.g., suspension) and practices (e.g., school-imposed labeling) lead to disproportionate rates of dropout in urban US schools, continued involvement in the criminal legal system, and a limited participation in society. This article argues that school-imposed labeling—affixing a category or descriptor on a student to signal a shorthand message to others about a student’s academic ability and behavior—is symbolically violent (Bourdieu). By examining unofficial labels, punitive structures, and teacher perceptions of labeled students, I explored school-imposed labeling as a form of “normalized” practice that impacts Black and Latino males who attend an urban charter school with a “no excuses” orientation.

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Gust A. Yep, Sage E. Russo, and Ryan M. Lescure

Offering a captivating exploration of seven-year-old Ludovic Fabre’s struggle against cultural expectations of normative boyhood masculinity, Alain Berliner’s blockbuster Ma Vie en Rose exposes the ways in which current sex and gender systems operate in cinematic representations of nonconforming gender identities. Using transing as our theoretical framework to investigate how gender is assembled and reassembled in and across other social categories such as age, we engage in a close reading of the film with a focus on Ludovic’s gender performance. Our analysis reveals three distinct but interrelated discourses—construction, correction, and narration—as the protagonist and Ludovic’s family and larger social circle attempt to work with, through, and against transgression of normative boyhood masculinity. We conclude by exploring the implications of transing boyhood gender performances.

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Disruptive Discourses

Kenyan Maasai Schoolgirls Make Themselves

Heather Switzer

This article examines the practical construction and effects of the schoolgirl as an emergent social category in contemporary Kenyan Maasai society against mainstream development's figuring of the girl-child. The paper relies upon ninety-eight interviews with schoolgirls between the ages of ten and seventeen in nine primary schools in Kajiado District, Kenya. A contradictory resistance to traditional gender norms and social forms characterizes the schoolgirls' narratives of education and development in their daily lives. These narratives are embedded in larger questions regarding the transnational intersections of ethnicity and gender in the formation of local identities in marginalized indigenous communities in postcolonial Kenya. Without disputing the practical necessities of educating girls, I problematize the seamless rhetoric concerning formal schooling as a neutral public good in order to open up the complex conversation about educational access and attainment in the global south today.

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Attitude or Age

Girlhood in Renaissance England

Reina Green

the category of ‘woman’, we unwittingly buy into the patriarchal narrative that depends upon collapsing difference between female identities in order to define male identities against them” (2). The concept of girl in Renaissance England differs

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Working Hard, Hanging Back

Constructing the Achieving Girl

Colette Slagle

destabilize the category of achieving girl and to explore the wider power structures implicated in this categorization. Specifically, Paule links the discourse of the achieving girl to neoliberalism and post-feminism. In the introductory chapter of Girlhood