Girlhood: A Global History

Girlhood: A Global History

Girlhood: A Global History

Girlhood: A Global History


Girlhood, interdisciplinary and global in source, scope, and methodology, examines the centrality of girlhood in shaping women's lives. Scholars study how age and gender, along with a multitude of other identities, work together to influence the historical experience.

Spanning a broad time frame from 1750 to the present, essays illuminate the various continuities and differences in girls' lives across culture and region--girls on all continents except Antarctica are represented. Case studies and essays are arranged thematically to encourage comparisons between girls' experiences in diverse locales, and to assess how girls were affected by historical developments such as colonialism, political repression, war, modernization, shifts in labor markets, migrations, and the rise of consumer culture.


Miriam Forman-Brunell

The copious collection of girls included in Girlhood: a Global History stirred recollections of my girlhood, especially of the exquisitely dressed costume dolls I collected in the early 1960s. That was long before we understood that the clothing sewn onto the dolls’ bodies signified female identities as immutable, uniform, and uncomplicated by gender, age, race, religion, nationality, sexuality, ethnicity, class, power, and the like. the realization that girlhood is a constructed, changing, and contested category of both experience and expectations only became apparent in the late 1980s and early 1990s as scholars began to chart the history of American girls. Since then historians and other scholars studying children and youth have been teaching, researching, writing monographs, editing journals, and compiling anthologies that place girls at the center of scholarly inquiry. the unprecedented scope of Girlhood: a Global History, however, makes it the first work to illuminate how vast, varied, and intricate girlhood is.

This essay collection is noteworthy for its infinite variety across all axes from the methodological to the topical, the disciplinary to the definitional. While some scholars use the diaries, memoirs, and semiautobiographical works of women to reconstruct girlhood, others make use of questionnaires and oral histories of girls themselves. Some essays rely on traditional historical evidence (e.g., archival material, interviews, official records) and qualitative research, whereas others “read” the body as a historical text. the volume also includes an enormous variety of girl-centered subjects (e.g., cultures, politics, love, sexuality, education, clothes, music, parties, dances, diary writing, talking, family, friends) and sites of study (e.g., churches, synagogues, mosques, temples, boarding schools, youth meetings, community clubs and centers, the streets, and shopping centers).

Vastly expanding the field of study across borders and boundaries, over time, and around the world, this collection, with its broad focus, also challenges standard definitions and traditional assumptions about girlhood as a uniform category of experience and expectation. By examining girls as students, citizens, sexual beings, and workers, and in numerous other social roles, the essays in this pioneering collection are significant for the opportunities they provide for the transnational study of girls. the numerous regional studies of girls from Mexico to Malaysia illuminate not only the . . .

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