1st Edition

Untaming Girlhoods Storytelling Female Adolescence

By Cristina Santos Copyright 2023
    234 Pages 22 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    This is an interdisciplinary examination of depictions of girlhoods through a comparative study of foundational fairy tales revised and reimagined in popular narrative, film, and television adaptations.

    The success of franchises such as The Hunger Games, Twilight and Divergence have re-presented the young heroine as an empowered female, and often a warrior hero in her own right. Through a selection of popular culture touchstones this empowerment is questioned as a manipulation of feminist ideals of equality and a continuation of the traditional vision of female awakening centering on issues of personal choice, agency, physical violence, purity, and beauty. By investigating re-occurring storytelling frameworks and archetypes, Untaming Girlhoods examines different portrayals of girlhoods in the 20th- and 21st-century Anglo-American cultural imaginary that configure modern girlhoods, beyond the fairy-tale princess or the damsel in distress, into refigurations that venture away from the well-trodden path for a new breakaway path to authentic selfhood.

    This will be a useful and enlightening text for students and researchers in Girlhood Studies, Gender Studies, Film Studies, Popular Culture and Media Studies.


    By Way of Introduction: Girl(hood)s in Context

    Girlhood in Context

    Storytelling Girlhoods

    PART I Fairy Tales and Emerging Girlhoods in the 20th and 21st Centuries

    1: Towards (Un)taming Girlhood: Fairy Tales, Popular Culture, and the Cultural Imaginary

    2: Forging New Pathways through the Forest: Red Riding Hood and New Becomings

    The Journey through the Woods

    Embracing the Wolf (Within): Red Riding Hood, Self-Knowledge, and Selfhood

    The Huntsman with No Damsel in Distress to Save

    3: Before They Were Evil, Before They Were Queens: Trauma, Female Rivalry and (Be)coming (into) Self

    "It is not power that corrupts; it is powerlessness": How the Queen Becomes a Villain

    Complicit and Compliant: Intergenerational Trauma and Female Relationships

    Recovering Female Communitas: Kissing Old Stereotypes Good-bye?


    PART II Unruly Girls: Warriors and Witches

    4: Killer Girls: Red Riding Hood, the Wolf and Girl (Em)power(ed)

    A Bloody Mess: Red Riding Hood, Werewolves, and Menstruation

    Killer Girls Take (Back) Control: Red Riding Hood in Hard Candy and Freeway

    5: This Princess Wears Combat Boots: The Dystopia of Girl Warrior Heroes

    Girlhood on Display: The Girl Warrior Hero

    Taking (Back) Control: (Personal) Performance and (Politicized) Becoming

    A "New" Kind of Female Hero: The Fairy-Tale Princess Gets a Makeover

    6: Beyond the Fairy-Tale Witch: Contemporary Girl(hood)s in The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina

    Sabrina: Rebooting Mortal and Witch Girlhoods

    Sisterhood and the Rise Against the Patriarchy



    Cristina Santos is an Associate Professor of Hispanic and Latin American Studies. Her work focuses on sexuality and gender studies from an intersectional feminist perspective in the construct of "monstrous women" from an interdisciplinary and multi-cultural approach as seen in literature, film, television, popular culture and mythology. She also investigates the construct of political and social deviance and trauma in life narratives as the construction of a personal and communal sense of identity that challenges official history and patriarchy. She is the author of Unbecoming Female Monsters: Witches, Vampires, and Virgins.