We are looking for paper proposals to fit into a panel on girls’ series books for the MAPACA conference in Philadelphia this fall. The proposal is below. Panel proposals are due June 15, so prompt replies would be very appreciated. If you have a paper that you would like to propose for the panel, please contact Susan Lewis at firstname.lastname@example.org and Emily Hamilton-Honey at email@example.com.
Girl Power: Mixed messages in American Girls’ Series Books from Little Women to Nancy Drew
“American women today are a bundle of contradictions because much of the media imagery we grew up with was itself filled with mixed messages about what women should and should not do, what women could and could not be.” So Susan Douglas argued in her pathbreaking study, Where the Girls Are: Growing up Female with the Mass Media. Though Douglas was speaking about girlhood in the late 50s and early 60s, her observation is equally true of other periods in history. Since the late 19th century, series books aimed at girls have offered multiple visions of girlhood and attracted legions of devoted girl readers. While many of these books offered vicarious adventure, with stories of girls meeting challenges and triumphing over obstacles, girl power was usually limited and reined in at the same time. This panel will focus on the mixed messages that girls’ series have transmitted to their young readers, exploring the ways in which they simultaneously celebrated and restricted the power of their heroines – and through them, the imagination of their girl fans.