What Katy Read

What Katy Read

Feminist Re-readings of "classic" Stories for Girls

Book - 1995
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What exactly is girls' fiction? What makes it distinctive? Do "classic" books for girls promote significant aspects of women's culture in an attempt to bridge the divide between patriarchal realities and the appeal to female individualism? How do they modify or continue the familiar narrative motifs and patterns of their age, and why should such motifs continue to exert an attraction for girls who belong to a very different cultural climate? To what extent can any questioning of the age's gender ideologies operate in such literature, and would contemporary juveniles have picked this up? What problems does girls' fiction raise for the twentieth-century critic intent on recognizing the influential part played by those works in providing values for impressionable readers? By focusing on this much neglected topic--popular fiction for girls--Shirley Foster and Judy Simons answer these questions about the status of girls' literature and its identity as a discrete literary genre.

Written by women for children, girls' fiction has been doubly marginalized by the critical establishment, yet it remains a crucial element in most girls' formative literary experience. In their original and provocative analysis of texts written between 1850 and 1920--including Little Women, What Katy Did, The Secret Garden, Anne of Green Gables, The Daisy Chain, The Railway Children, The Madcap of the School, and The Wide, Wide World --Foster and Simons examine what makes a classic and how such texts construct role models which both reflect and subvert contemporary ideologies of childhood.

By applying twentieth-century feminist theory to this body of literature, What Katy Read uncovers a challenging and exciting new dimension to a previously ignored area. Through close readings of these eight North American and British novels, which have had a powerful impact on the development of literature for girls, Foster and Simons consider genres from the domestic myth to the school story, analyze the transgressive figure of the tomboy, and discuss ways in which superficially conventional texts implicitly undermine patterns of patriarchy. Their stimulating and innovative study will be essential reading for students of women's writing and children's literature alike.

Publisher: Iowa City : University of Iowa Press, c1995
ISBN: 9780877454939
0877454930
Characteristics: xiii, 223 p. ; 23 cm
Additional Contributors: Simons, Judy

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