Girl Culture, Spring 2018!

now in its 10th year. Yeah!

SSHIS 300 Girl Culture
Spring 2018
Mondays, 12-3
Oakland Campus, Carriage House 1


What does it mean to be a girl today? What is “girl culture”? This course, an overview of the emerging field called girls’ studies, employs an interdisciplinary feminist lens to explore the construction and meaning of girlhood in contemporary American culture, and emphasizes the following themes: identity formation and development, socialization, education and equity, sexuality, body consciousness and self-esteem, media representation, consumerism, agency and activism, and cultural production.

This class is an upper-division seminar and will require a significant time commitment on your part to complete the required readings and writing assignments, as well as to prepare critical, informed contributions to each class’s discussion. Be certain that you are interested in engaging in intensive intersectional feminist, girl-centric academic work prior to enrolling.


After completing this course, students will have:

  • – an understanding of girlhood and femininity as social constructs
  • – solid knowledge of the contemporary theories framing girlhood and girl cultures
  • – an understanding of diversity in American girlhood and girlhood studies
  • – a body of reflective writing and formal research engaging with critical girls’ studies

Course Reader: Available at Green Copy, 5267 Broadway at College, (510) 547-0646


  1. Class participation is comprised of these elements: regular attendance, engaged, active participation in class activities (small group discussions/presentations), and submission of 8 weekly response papers (2-3 pages) based on the assigned readings. 50%
  2.  One critical essay, 5 pages, in response to a specific prompt. Due March 3rd (Thursday). Details TBA. 20%
  3. Final project: this research-based project is designed to deepen your understanding of contemporary girl cultures. Details to follow. Due May 2nd at 12pm. 30%
CCA Academic Integrity Policy:
Academic Policies: (attendance policy)
Student Code of Conduct:
Attendance is mandatory. (See above).


Engaging, informed, and courteous discussion is the foundation of this class, thus active participation is mandatory. If you do not participate responsibly, you will not pass this class. If you are not a person who likes to speak in class, this is not the class for you.


No late work will be accepted.


Every class we will discuss and analyze the assigned readings. Please be prepared to discuss all the work

assigned. If I feel that class discussion is suffering because you are not completing the assigned reading, I will assign quizzes. Please do not bother coming to class without having done the reading.


You are responsible for turning in 8 weekly reading responses in hard copy only, each due at the beginning of class on dates of your own choosing. Each reading response should be 2-3 full pages, double-spaced, and should demonstrate your critical engagement with each of the assigned course readings for the week. Points will be assigned as follows:

4-5 points: terrific summaries of all assigned readings with insightful, engaged analyses and questions

3 points: solid summaries of all assigned readings and thoughtful analyses and questions

1-2 points: minimal entries for all articles (weak summaries, analyses and questions)


You will write one short midterm essay for this course (5-6 pages) and a final research project that will adhere to research paper standards. Both essays must include proper citation format. More details TBA.


We want to create a respectful, safe and productive environment for learning this semester. Here are some ground rules to facilitate that respect: turn off all electronic devices (cell phones, laptops, iPods, etc.) during class. Please refrain from any disruptive behavior, including private conversations, noisy entrances/exits, sleeping, texting, and interrupting someone who is speaking.

I reserve the right to modify the syllabus throughout the semester.

By remaining in this class, you are agreeing to all the policies stated in this syllabus.


Readings (must be completed prior to class)



Introduction to Girls’ Studies


Purchase course reader


Making Girls:

Gender and Socialization

Understanding Gender” from GenderSpectrum

Michelle Bae: “Interrogating Girl Power”

Baumgardner and Richards: “Feminism and Femininity: Or How We Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Thong”

In class: My Name is Jazz

Film: Saved!

Response paper #1


Making Girls II:

Culture and Family

Melinda de Jesús: “Fictions of Assimilation: Nancy Drew, Cultural Imperialism and the Filipina/American Experience”

Joan Ryan: “A Girl On the Verge”

Cristina Tzintuin: “Colonize This!”

Paula Astin: “Femme-Inism: Lessons from My Mother”

Ijeoma A. “Because You’re A Girl”

Film: Kelly Loves Tony

Response paper #2



Kahente Horn-Miller: “Bring Us Back into the Dance”

AAUW Report: How Schools Shortchange Girls (online)

AAUW Report: Where the Girls Are (online)

Girls, Inc Report: The Super Girl Dilemma (online)

Guest: Radical Monarchs?

Response paper #3



Morgan Jerkins: “Who Gets to Take Part in the Menstruation Conversation?”

Joan Brumberg: “Sanitizing Puberty: The 20thC American Way to Menstruate”

Wendy Weiner: “Period Pieces: The Last Taboo of Reality TV”

Films: Period Piece and Molly Grows Up

Response paper #4


What a Girl Wants: Consumerism and Pop Culture

Peggy Orenstein: “What’s Wrong with Cinderella?”

Lois Leveen: “Factory Girl: Dora the Explorer and the Dirty Secrets of The Global Industrial Economy”

Sherrie Inness: “Anti-Barbies: The American Girls Collection and Political Ideologies”

Katherine Cross: “Game Changer: Why Gaming Culture Allows Abuse…”

Film: “Consuming Kids: The Commercialization of Childhood”

Response paper #5

Bring toys/games to class

3/8 (Thursday)

Midterm due by 12pm



Jacqueline Lalley: “Risk Factors: Media Sensationalism, Adult Prurience, and the Specter of Teen Sexuality”

Jennifer Baumgardner: “Would You Pledge Your Virginity To Your Father?”

Guest Speaker: Peggy Orenstein?

Response paper #6


Case Study: Lauren Greenfield’s “Girl Culture” (online photoessay)

Joan Jacobs Brumberg: “Body Projects”

Sirena Riley: “The Black Beauty Myth”

Courtney Martin: “Perfect Girls, Starving Daughters”

Guest: Claudina Nagumana of the The GIRL project

Response paper #7


Class canceled– spring break


Case Study: Rachel Simmons’ Odd Girl Out

Rachel Simmons: “She’s All That”

Meda Chesney Lind and Katherine Irwin: “From Badness to Meaness: Popular Constructions of Contemporary Girlhood”

Gabrielle Moss: “Teen Mean Fighting Machine”

Film: Mean Girls; A girl like you…

Response paper #8


Library research tutorial


Talking Back:

Girls on Girlhood

Anita Harris: “Jamming Girl Culture: Young Women and Consumer Citizenship”

Ann Farmer: “Girls Make Noise at Rock n’ Roll Summer Camps”

Hannah Steinkopf-Frank: “They’ve Got the Beat: Surveying Girl Groups Through the Ages”

Film: Don’t Need You: The Herstory of Riot Grrl

Response paper #9


Girlhood in the 21st Century

Joan Brumberg: “Girl Advocacy Again”

Coalition for Adolescent Girls: “A Global Investment and Action Agenda:” Executive Summary (online)

Radical Monarchs

Response paper #10

Prospectus due


Research day–class canceled


Final class potluck

Final projects due at 12pm