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Girlhood in Public Culture

This course investigates the question of why girls have figured so centrally in popular culture over the course of the last century and why the concept of girlhood itself is so widely debated within public culture more generally and in feminist intellectual circles more specifically. Students will consider how girlhood is defined, by whom, and for what purposes, and will further investigate the effects of this contentious discourse on girls themselves. Particular attention will be paid to how race, class, sexual preference and other factors affect both the definition and practice of girlhood and how these have changed in recent years. Finally, the class will consider how girls respond to the culture’s constructions of them.