Kate G. Harper
November 25, 2019 Forthcoming
Reference - 160 Pages
ISBN 9780367330811 - CAT# 316320
Series: Children's Literature and Culture
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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.