Wednesday, July 18, 2007

The New Girl (Book #68)

I can't remember anymore where I first heard about The New Girl: Girls' Culture in England 1880-1915 (Sally Mitchell, 1995). Given the topic, it could've been any number of online communities. Something about the description piqued my interest, despite the fact it's 100 years before my own time and 100 years after my current preferred time to write about, so I flagged it on the library website and eventually checked it out.

Basically, it's an analysis of what girlhood meant to late Victorian and Edwardian girls via their leisure reading--popular novels and girls' magazines. That may not sound fascinating, but it is. It's all about the changes that were going on in women's roles, experiences, and education, particularly in adolescence and young adulthood, and how popular literature encouraged girls and reflected their fears. It's interesting to see how some literary tropes that are still with us got set and how cultural shifts are reflected in fiction/fantasy. And I admit I got a little squirmy reading the discussion of repeated/pet fantasies of readers and writers and what they mean. Because that hits home. I do have tropes and character types I just can't bring myself to let go of in my writing, and I'm sure they say a lot about me...

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