Out of Reach: The Ideal Girl in American Girls’ Series, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Out of Reach

The Ideal Girl in American Girls’ Series, 1st Edition

By Katie Harper

Routledge

180 pages

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Hardback: 9780367330811
pub: 2019-09-03
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Description

Out of Reach: The Ideal Girl in American Girls’ Series traces the journey of the ideal girl through American girls’ series in the 20th century. Who is the ideal girl? In what ways does the trope of the ideal girl rely on the exclusion and erasure of Othered girls? How does the trope retain its power through cultural shifts? Drawing from six popular girls’ series that span the 20th century, Kate Harper explores the role of girls’ series in constructing a narrow ideal of girlhood, one that is out of reach for the average American girl reader. Girls’ series reveal how, over time, the ideal girl trope strengthens and becomes naturalized through constant reiteration. From the transitional girl at the turn of the century in Dorothy Dale to the "liberated" romantic of Sweet Valley High, these texts provide girls with an appealing model of girlhood, urging all girls to aspire to the unattainable ideal. Out of Reach illuminates the ways in which the ideal girl trope accommodates social changes, taking in that which makes it stronger and further solidifying its core.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgements

  1. Introduction: An American Girl at Her Best
  2. A Girl of Today: Merging Models of Girlhood
  3. Who is Nancy Drew? The Arrival of the Great Girl Sleuth
  4. The Ideal Girl Goes to Work: Negotiating the Fractured Fifties
  5. The Baby-Sitters Club Sells Diversity
  6. Sweet Valley High Romances the Ideal Girl
  7. Conclusions

About the Author

Kate Harper holds a Ph.D. (Arizona State University) and an MA (Georgia State University) in Women and Gender Studies. She has taught courses on gender in literature, popular culture, and daily life in the Departments of Women and Gender Studies at Arizona State University and the University of Colorado Boulder. She has previously published work on the Nancy Drew series in Girlhood Studies and is a co-editor of Girls’ Sexualities and the Media (Peter Lang, 2013).

About the Series

Children's Literature and Culture

Founding Editor and Series Editor 1994-2011: Jack Zipes

Series Editor, 2011-2018: Philip Nel

 

Founded by Jack Zipes in 1994, Children's Literature and Culture is the longest-running series devoted to the study of children’s literature and culture from a national and international perspective. Dedicated to promoting original research in children’s literature and children’s culture, in 2011 the series expanded its focus to include childhood studies, and it seeks to explore the legal, historical, and philosophical conditions of different childhoods. An advocate for scholarship from around the globe, the series recognizes innovation and encourages interdisciplinarity. Children's Literature and Culture offers cutting-edge, upper-level scholarly studies and edited collections considering topics such as gender, race, picturebooks, childhood, nation, religion, technology, and many others. Titles are characterized by dynamic interventions into established subjects and innovative studies on emerging topics.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
LIT000000
LITERARY CRITICISM / General