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North American Girls' Literature

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If you have a question about this talk, please contact Lucian Stephenson.

Girls’ Literature is something that seems to be understood by association and assumption, rather than any methodological critical study. By exploring several key texts often described critically as “classic books for girls” through lenses of genre theory, intersectionality, and gender performativity, I raise will raise questions about 1) how we can define “girls’ literature” or a “girl’s story,” 2) what entails the girl’s coming-of-age, or bildungsroman, and 3) what it means to be a girl in these texts, in America, and in history.

Dawn Sardella-Ayres (PhD, University of Cambridge, 2016) recently completed a tenure as the Ofstad Guest Scholar at Truman State University, teaching a course on girls’ literature and the girls’ Bildungsroman in the United States and Canada. She has published on Alcott, Montgomery, and Wilder, and researches issues related to gender and race, as well as the Kunstlerroman, in late nineteenth- and early twentieth century girls’ texts. She still firmly believes Harry and Luna should have ended up together, and shares Anne Shirley’s fondness for dresses with puffed sleeves.

This talk is part of the Centre for Research in Children's Literature at Cambridge series.

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