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The Changing Nature of Girlhood in Tanzania

Influences from Global Imagery and Globalization

Marni Sommer

The experience of girlhood is shifting in Tanzania as family structure is altered by economic migration and the impact of HIV/AIDS. Also significant is the influence of globalization and global imagery, which are shaping the nature of girlhood and the experience of transitioning to young womanhood. A deeper understanding of how globalizing influences are changing girls' growing up experiences, from the perspectives of the girls themselves and the adults who intersect with them in their daily lives is essential. A rural versus urban comparative case study was conducted in the Kilimanjaro region of northern Tanzania, which explored the perspectives of girls and adults through a range of methodologies. Both adults and girls expressed concerns that globalization is negatively influencing the transition to young womanhood, with girls feeling much more appreciative of the new gendered opportunities provided by the influx of external influences.

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Mary Jane Kehily

New femininities suggest that young women, no longer content with subordinate status in the bedroom or on the periphery of youth cultures, appear to have found their voice as the 'can do' girls of neo-liberalism. Familiar tropes of new femininities position young women as agentic, goal-oriented, pleasure seeking individuals adept at reading the new world order and finding their place within it. Has femininity finally found a skin that fits or are there cracks in this unparalleled success story? The article examines this question intergenerationally by looking at young women's experience across time, specifically, as documented by feminist scholarship from the 1960s to the present and contrasting this with the experience of being a girl as articulated by three women in the same family—grandmother, mother, daughter. Analyses of these accounts provide an insightful commentary on social change and feminine subjectivity, highlighting continuity and change while pointing to the ever present contradictions of femininity that may be reshaped and reconfigured over generations.

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Catherine Driscoll

The history of modern girlhood is entwined with anxieties about cultural norms and cultural change that are foundational to "girlhood" and "girl culture." This essay sketches a history of discourses on girls, girlhood and girl culture as the necessary genealogical context for a subsequent discussion of the field of contemporary girl studies. It begins with historical perspectives on the 'girl of the period' from the nineteenth century, through the "girl of yesterday," the "it girl" to the post World War I period that coalesced the cultural conditions necessary for the teenager to take on iconic status. The second half of the article considers girlhood studies today—and in particular its interest in locating, describing and problematizing girls' voice and girls' agency. In a world increasingly perceived as "global," these are powerful starting points for thinking about what constitutes "girl studies" (or "girlhood studies" or "girl culture studies") today.

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Claudia Mitchell and Jacqui Reid-Walsh

This issue of Girlhood Studies focuses on particular girlhood practices—the everyday activities in which some girls engage as part of their ordinary lives. In this issue we look at these girls engaging in these practices, sometimes on their own and sometimes in small groups, how and when they engage in them and where they do so. These include the long-standing practice of girls engaging in child care as babysitters, playing with dolls (in the case of younger girls) or reading fashion magazines (in the case of older girls). These activities take place in different locations, some of which have been associated historically with girlhood, such as a girl’s bedroom or a school classroom, and others which have been more recently appropriated by girls as congenial spaces, such as shopping malls, movie theaters and the internet.

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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.

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Claudia Mitchell

Now, in 2017, Girlhood Studies begins its tenth year. It is a tribute to our guest editors and contributors that we have been able to take on such a range of topics and concerns. Quantitatively, we have passed the one million mark in relation to the number of words about girlhood in the first twenty issues of the journal. The various guest editors have tackled such critical issues as critiques of girl power, girls and post-conflict, girls and health, girlhood studies and media, dolls and play, memory work methodologies in the study of girlhood, literary texts and girlhood, visual disruptions, girlhood and disabilities, Indigenous girlhoods, and ethical practices in girlhood studies.

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Julianne Guillard

Ruth Nicole Brown. 2009. Black Girlhood Celebration: Toward a Hip-Hop Feminist Pedagogy

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Collecting Girlhood

Pinterest Cyber Collections Archive Available Female Identities

Jen Almjeld

Collection is an important activity and marker of childhood. In this article I will discuss Pinterest as an online iteration of the collection process. Through Pinterest, users amass bits of information online, known as pins, to display on virtual bulletin boards. My project positions Pinterest as an influential text and literacy practice related to identity production with particular impact on girls. With obvious parallels to the keeping of commonplace books, Pinterest is an act of virtual curation that shapes a pinner's present and future identities. In the Pinterest space, girls see and collect ideals of femininity (displayed in recipes, fantasy weddings, and parenting tips) and in so doing create their own online avatars. This practice requires a critical awareness as users reinscribe, resist, or reinforce cultural norms of femininity. This article offers a conceptual base for future systematic study of Pinterest as a text and practice of girlhood.

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Entanglements

Art-making, Becoming Girl and Collective Biography

Marnina Gonick

This article analyses a set of stories and artworks that were produced in the context of a collective biography workshop. A Deleuzian framework is used to explore the entanglements that are produced through a cross-reading of different kinds of texts, each taking up the question of girlhood subjectivities. The analysis focuses on the contradiction and indeterminacy of meaning-making in the research process. The aim is to investigate how different kind of knowing and a different kind of knowledge(s) are produced in the movements between texts, sensation and affect.

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The Cyndi Lauper Affect

Bodies, Girlhood and Popular Culture

Kristina Gottschall, Susanne Gannon, Jo Lampert and Kelli McGraw

Using a collective biography method informed by a Deleuzian theoretical approach (Davies and Gannon 2009, 2012), this article analyses embodied memories of girlhood becomings through affective engagements with resonating images in media and popular culture. In this approach to analysis we move beyond the impasse in some feminist cultural studies where studies of popular culture have been understood through theories of representation and reception that retain a sense of discrete subjectivity and linear effects. In these approaches, analysis focuses respectively on decoding and deciphering images in terms of their normative and ideological baggage, and, particularly with moving images, on psychological readings. Understanding bodies and popular culture through Deleuzian notions of “becoming“ and “assemblage“ opens possibilities for feminist researchers to consider the ways in which bodies are not separate from images but are, rather, becomings that are known, felt, materialized and mobilized with/through images (Coleman 2008a, 2008b, 2008c, 2009, 2011; Ringrose and Coleman 2013). We tease out the implications of this new approach to media affects through three memories of girls' engagements with media images, reconceived as moments of embodied being within affective flows of popular culture that might momentarily extend upon ways of being and doing girlhood.