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The Girl in the Text

Representations, Positions, and Perspectives

Ann Smith

In our call for proposals we invited contributors to explore how the representations of girls in written or graphic texts invite us to think about girlhood( s) from new and/or different perspectives. My interest in how the girl in the text might operate in different ways and/or from different perspectives dates back almost two decades; it was sparked in 1988 when I first encountered Tsitsi Dangarembga’s Nervous Conditions A Novel, published that year. This work of fiction immediately headed up the Required Reading List for the new Feminist Literature elective on which I was working with two colleagues in the Department of English at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa. My preference for this Zimbabwean novel had to do, in part, with the fact that Olive Schreiner’s Story of an African Farm, often thought to have been the first feminist South African novel, published under the male pseudonym Ralph Irons in 1883, introduces feminism in a kind of separate manifesto about the status of women in society.