Window Panes & Mirror Frames:
Social Constructions of American Girlhood
in Children's Pages and Periodicals (1865-1952)
Representations of girlhood have been socially constructed via media content and
popular culture. This can be done by providing a society with a certain way of talking about
girls, creating, in essence, a discourse. Content from 177 articles in children's periodicals
and 757 articles in children's sections and girls' pages from 1865 through 1952 were
examined to discern what girls were reading about:
a) Who or what girls could be (roles), and
b) How girls could be (traits, learned or inculcated).
The purpose was to get a better understanding of what the girls' choices were (range
of roles and traits seen in texts) and what messages girls were most exposed to (frequency
of constructions and messages in texts).
At least 21 roles and more than five dozen traits were identified—dominant,
enduring and/or consistent—across the 87-year period. The Socializer role became more
mentioned while the Nurturer roles became less mentioned, and the Keeper-of-the-Hearth
roles remained strong. A proper-sphere discourse dominated throughout the 87 years.
University of MInnesota Ph.D. dissertation. May 2011 Major: Mass Communication. Advisor: Hazel Dicken-Garcia. 1 computer file (PDF); iii, 253 pages.
Edenborg, Katherine Erin Roberts.
Window panes and mirror frames: social constructions of American girlhood in children's pages and periodicals (1865-1952).
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