This article explores the development of girl characters in works for children and young adults during Perestroika. First, it examines established heroines from the Soviet era, such as Elli in Volkov's Volshebnik izumrudnogo goroda [The wizard of the emerald city], and then goes on to examine the depiction of female protagonists and characters in works written during the late 1980s and early 1990s. The conclusion is that although there was a clear demand for new heroines and a new role model for girls, writers did not succeed in providing strong, independent female characters with a sense of agency. Instead, the Soviet preference for male protagonists continued, with females often being portrayed stereotypically as weak and ineffectual.
Marginalizing Queer Girls in YA Dystopian Literature
Miranda A. Green-Barteet and Jill Coste
In this article we consider the absence of queer female protagonists in dystopian Young Adult (YA) fiction and examine how texts with queer protagonists rely on heteronormative frameworks. Often seen as progressive, dystopian YA fiction features rebellious teen girls resisting the restrictive norms of their societies, but it frequently sidelines queerness in favor of heteronormative romance for its predominantly white, able-bodied protagonists. We analyze The Scorpion Rules (2015) and Love in the Time of Global Warming (2013), both of which feature queer girl protagonists, and conclude that these texts ultimately marginalize that queerness. While they offer readers queer female protagonists, they also equate queerness with non-normative bodies and reaffirm heteronormativity. The rebellion of both protagonists effectively distances them from the queer agency they have developed throughout the narratives.
Most young females, particularly in Western contexts, are all too familiar with the traditional structure of the love story: the female protagonist embarks on a journey that ultimately leads her to fulfil her romantic goal of uniting with the male object of her desire. Throughout the history of Western society and beyond, this discourse has been prevalent in many mass media outlets, pervading the content of movies, television, and novels aimed at entertaining young adult females. In this classic narrative, women are presented as being dependent on males for their personal happiness. Whether this narrative is explicitly presented or camouflaged by an intricate storyline involving a seemingly strong and independent female character, this ubiquitous depiction of women in the mainstream media cannot be ignored.
The Life and Work of Two Fictitious Hungarian Women Authors
This article re-reads from a feminist perspective and with the interpretative strategies of feminist criticism, two pieces of late-twentieth-century Hungarian literature, Sándor Weöres's Psyché and Péter Esterházy's Tizenhét hattyúk (Seventeen swans). Both books were written by men and both introduce a fictitious woman figure as the author, presenting the text as hers. Both authors also present this material in an archaised language. A multilayered analysis that tackles the implications of the gender shift between the real and the fictitious authors, the genre of the works, their peculiar language use as well as the historical dimensions of conjuring up women authors, leads me to conclude that Psyché and Tizenhét hayúk may qualify as feminist textual practice. They open up the literary historical canon for women authors and, by actualising l'écriture féminine, let the female protagonists express themselves outside the bounds of phallologocentric signification.
Communism and Epistemology in Iva Pekárková's Novel Truck Stop Rainbows
Drawing on feminist conceptualisations of the body, this essay analyses Iva Pekárková’s novel, Truck Stop Rainbows (published as Péra a Perutě [Feathers and wings] in 1989, translated into English in 1992), to show how this contemporary Czech writer challenges the metaphor of the female body as a container through which communist propaganda in Czechoslovakia offi cially sanctioned and established a normative female identity in maternal, economic and civic functions. I seek to demonstrate how Fialka, the female protagonist who lives under the Czechoslovak communist regime of the 1980s, critiques discursive and epistemic formations that conceptualised the female body as a vessel for reproduction and labour and denied the female body the authority to function as a source of knowledge. Striving to spotlight the body in its cognitive role, I argue for an understanding of the body not as an instrument of knowledge or a neutral medium that enables knowledge production but, rather, as a condition of the possibility of knowing.
An Anthropological Introspection on Kinship and Family
This article examines female protagonists in Rabindranath Tagore’s stories and novellas – specifically Charu (A Broken Nest, 1901), Mrinal (The Wife’s Letter, 1914), Kamala (Musalmani, 1941), Anila (House Number 1, 1917), Chandara (Punishment, 1893) and Boshtomi (Devotee, 1916) – from a social anthropological viewpoint, focusing on gender and time-based kinship relations. Here, kinship is defined as an extension of familial relationships to the community (common ethnic-social life, locality and religion) in such a way as to achieve progressively higher levels of social integration and extensive social networks through marriage alliances and lines of descent. Studying how the characters placed the universality of family and kinship structures into question, I argue that parameters of kinship organisation need to be redefined, with plurality and difference as the basis of inquiry rather than universality.
Female Adolescence in the Novels of Carson McCullers
In this article I will explore the repeated depiction of freak show performers and their relation to adolescent, tomboyish female protagonists in the novels of Carson McCullers. In a surprisingly recurrent trope across McCullers’s work, young girls believe that they will grow uncontrollably, as tall as the “nine foot tall” woman at the fair on the outskirts of town. Serving as a link between their rapidly developing bodies and their emergent sense of their own queerness, freakishness threatens to divert them from the normative futures of womanhood. I investigate this intersection of freak studies, a sub-discipline of disability studies, and queer theories of temporality, arguing for an extension of queer time through crip time, one which is necessitated by a consideration of freakishness in relation to youth and development. The figure of the freak across McCullers’s work calls for a reassessment of girlhood’s complex relationship to embodiment, place, sexuality, and temporality.
Punk Aesthetic as Gender De(con)struction in the Trilogy Film Series "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
This article investigates contemporary representations of androgyny and the strategic possibilities of punk-androgyny within a postfeminist imaginary. In looking at the characters Lisbeth in the Swedish film trilogy The Girl With A Dragon Tattoo and Kino in the Japanese anime series Kino's Journey, I am interested in connecting the metonymy of punk dress to representations of transgressions of gender norms. My investigation looks at the concept that gender is “unread” through androgyny which manifests as visual signifiers that make up the punk metonymy. The subjects (characters Lisbeth and Kino) erase the signifier of gender, through punk-androgyny, in order to reclaim power and identity within a (masculinized) subculture and mainstream society. Androgyny is not the desire to be the opposite sex as in a transgender subjectivity. Instead, androgyny is a strategy of aesthetics that transgresses the normative structure of language and signifiers that refer girls and women as less than or as Other through the normative codes of feminizing. In addition to arguing that punk metonymy erases explicit or readable/normative gender signs, I analyze how the motorcycle is situated as an extension of the body. The use of motorcycling propels the literal and figurative androgynous bodies through space in overt transgressive actions against the establishment; it provides agency, motility and ultimately new subject positions for the female protagonists. Through a critical analysis drawing from cultural and post-feminist theory and through the examination of specific scenes, this article aims to investigate punk aesthetic as a post-feminist strategy.
Cinemas of Boyhood Part II
welcome more films about girls’ experiences. The recent success of series such as Twilight (2008–2012), The Hunger Games (2012–2015), and the ongoing Divergent (2014–2017) films indicates that serious stories about young female protagonists can
Emerging Conversations on Girls’ Literature and Girlhood
Dawn Sardella-Ayres and Ashley N. Reese
's bildungsroman requires more than just considering what is not the boy's bildungsroman . 6 As Lissa Paul observes, exchanging “a female protagonist for a male one usually ends up making the heroine look like a hero in drag” ( 1987: 161–162 ). Furthermore, the