About this item
This book makes a significant contribution to the burgeoning field of childhood studies in nineteenth-century literature and culture by drawing on the intersecting fields of girlhood, evangelicalism, and reform to investigate texts written in North America about girls, for girls, and by girls. Responding both to the intellectual excitement generated by the rise of girlhood studies, as well as to the call by recent scholars to recognize the significance of religion as a meaningful category in the study of nineteenth-century literature and culture, this collection locates evangelicalism at the center of its inquiry into girlhood. Contributors draw on a wide range of texts, including canonical literature by Harriet Beecher Stowe, Susan Warner, and Elizabeth Stuart Phelps and overlooked archives such as U.S. Methodist Sunday school fiction, children’s missionary periodicals, and the Christian Recorder, the flagship newspaper of the AME church. These essays investigate representations of girlhood that engage, codify, and critique normative Protestant constructions of girlhood. Contributors examine girlhood in the context of reform, revealing the ways in which Protestantism at once constrained and enabled female agency. Drawing on a range of critical perspectives including African American Studies, Disability Studies, Gender Studies, and Material Culture Studies, this volume enriches our understanding of nineteenth century childhood by focusing on the particularities of girlhood, expanding it beyond that of the white, able-bodied, middle-class girl and attending to the intersectionality of identity and religion.