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Hope Chest

Demythologizing Girlhood in Kate Bernheimer’s Trilogy

Catriona McAra

In this article I position the metaphor of the hope chest at the heart of a trilogy of fairy tale novels, The Complete Tales of Ketzia (2001), The Complete Tales of Merry (2006a) and The Complete Tales of Lucy Gold (2011), by Kate Bernheimer that explore traditions of American girlhood. Deploying psychoanalytic interpretative readings, I investigate the characterization of each of the three sisters. My use of the hope chest (as both a toy and a cultural repository) enables me to offer a fuller picture of the social transition depicted in these novels from childhood into womanhood, and is thus conflated with the idea of the child-woman— a hinge-like cultural figure whom Bernheimer represents metaphorically through boxes of accoutrements containing memories and prophecies. With reference to unpublished interviews with Bernheimer, I support my interpretative reading of her trilogy by invoking and explaining the relevance of literary theories related to caskets.

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Introduction

Doing Ritual While Thinking about It?

Emma Gobin

waiting in the wings—and taking it into account certainly allows us to think about ritual out of the functionalist box (ibid.)—ritual accidents are not totally reducible to failure. First, as we shall see, such accidents do not always result in