In this themed issue of GHS, “Interrogating the Meaning of Dolls: New Directions in Doll Studies,” guest edited by noted doll researcher Miriam Forman-Brunell, we are introduced to a new generation of doll researchers who continue to explore the connections between girls and dolls. Similar to girls’ other types of play such as domestic play with miniature kitchens and with dollhouses, their playing with dolls is far from being an uncontested area of study within feminist scholarship. In the eighteenth century Jean Jacques Rousseau, and Maria and Richard Edgeworth elaborated the function of the fashion doll as a way of preparing girls for their future life. Dolls became more of a problematic topic in the twentieth century when much of the discussion centered around Barbie. In an article we wrote on Barbie some years ago (Reid-Walsh and Mitchell 2000), for example, we played with the expression “just a doll” (175) arguing that, on the one hand, Barbie’s low cultural status as a doll called into question the vast amount of controversy generated by one piece of molded plastic, and, on the other, trivialized girls’ play objects.

Girlhood Studies

An Interdisciplinary Journal


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