Magazine article Feminist Collections: A Quarterly of Women's Studies Resources

A Year of Girls' Studies

Magazine article Feminist Collections: A Quarterly of Women's Studies Resources

A Year of Girls' Studies

Article excerpt

In Winter 1997, Feminist Collections released a special issue on "Girls and Young Women," reviewing works from a limited though promising corpus of books, magazines, and videos by and about girls. Coincidentally, we return to this topic exactly ten years later--with the Winter 2007 issue introducing and this Spring issue launching the journal's most comprehensive thematic series ever.

Our yearlong sequence is about girls' studies--the long-unnamed field of scholarly inquiry into girls' identities and experiences. We hope to represent the many topics, books, and genres available in a field that, it is clear (simply from the growth in editorial space needed to represent it), has become more developed and complex. Yet variations in the range of terminology used just to name the field--sometimes referred to as "girl," "girls," or "girls'" studies, sometimes capitalized and sometimes not--indicate that this area is not rigidly fixed, but open to new directions. The body of reviews will inevitably reflect this dynamic among the many exciting changes and additions to scholarship on girlhood.

Although they hadn't originally intended to compile a series, Feminist Collections co-editors Phyllis Holman Weisbard and JoAnne Lehman were surprised and delighted by the current amount of scholarship and reviewer interest on girls. "The more we looked," Phyllis says, "the more we found." Later, JoAnne notes, our call for reviewers brought in an "overwhelming response" from eager scholars. Invited to guest-edit the series because of my work on representations of girls' sexuality, I was lucky enough to witness this expansion both before and after the call went out.

In order to group the many girls' studies books into manageable categories, we first looked for dominant, repetitive themes in scholarship. We initially compiled nine categories on topics ranging from education to entertainment, literature to technology, and aggression to "othering." I personally found it interesting that the topic of "the body," a somewhat established issue for girls within body image research, hadn't even come up yet! Clearly girls' studies has diverse and numerous foci. Eventually, as JoAnne put it, "We simply had to stop, there was so much!" We posted a call for reviewers that listed those nine categories, and then added more, based on feedback from some of the many qualified scholars with specialized research and service in their girls' studies areas of interest. What resulted was, we believe, a strong representation of the many books and topics unique to girls' studies.

We felt it necessary to recognize, in addition to critical academic books, the many genres that touch girls' lives, as well as materials that are actually authored by girls. Girls' studies often turns to such sources as girls' magazines, websites, diaries, narratives, and artistic production for serious inquiry into psychosocial research. Therefore, the series includes reviews of young adult and pre-adolescent literature for girls, as well as books containing girls' own writings and self-portrayals. With a review of magazines for seven- to twelve-year-olds and another of websites by and for girls, the series is diverse in its considerations of different media. Also, by elevating girls' voices to the same level as the voices of scholars, the series echoes the field's own practice of treating girls as active subjects in meaning-making, not simply passive objects of inquiry.

The Winter 2007 issue acted as a sneak preview of the series, including a review of texts used by librarians, teachers, and parents to select young adult literature for girls and an article by Sarah Hentges, author of Pictures of Girlhood: Modern Female Adolescence on Film, on her pedagogical practices using girls' film. …

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