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The girls' guide to power: romancing the Cold War Open Access


Other title
Cold War
children's literature
Louise Seaman
progressive education
Margaret Scoggin
Rosamond Du Jardin
May Massee
Bertha Mahony
Ursula Nordstrom
Pierre Bourdieu
Mabel Williams
Betty Cavanna
Ilonka Karasz
Anne Carroll Moore
Anne Emery
girls' culture
Maureen Daly
developmental tasks
young adult literature
Mary Stolz
Robert J. Havighurst
Type of item
Degree grantor
University of Alberta
Author or creator
Allen, Amanda
Supervisor and department
Wallace, Jo-Ann (English and Film Studies)
Examining committee member and department
Demers, Patricia (English and Film Studies)
Devereux, Cecily (English and Film Studies)
Mackey, Margaret (School of Library and Information Studies)
Meagher, Michelle (Women's Studies)
Clark, Beverly Lyon (English, Wheaton College)
Department of English and Film Studies

Date accepted
Graduation date
Doctor of Philosophy
Degree level
This dissertation uses a feminist cultural materialist approach that draws on the work of Pierre Bourdieu and Luce Irigaray to examine the neglected genre of postwar-Cold War American teen girl romance novels, which I call “female junior novels.” Written between 1942 and the late 1960s by authors such as Betty Cavanna, Maureen Daly, Anne Emery, Rosamond du Jardin, and Mary Stolz, these texts create a kind of hieroglyphic world, where possession of the right dress or the proper seat in the malt shop determines a girl’s place within an entrenched adolescent social hierarchy. Thus in the first chapter, I argue that girls’ adherence to consumer-based social codes ultimately constructs a semi-autonomous female society, still under the umbrella of patriarchy, but based on female desire and possessing its own logic. This adolescent female society parallels the network of women who produced (authors, illustrators, editors) and distributed (librarians, critics) these texts to teenaged girls. Invisible because of its all-female composition, middlebrow status, and “feminine control,” yet self-governing for the same reasons, the network established a semi-autonomous space into which left-leaning authors could safely (if subtly) critique American social and foreign policies during the Cold War. Chapter Two examines the first generation of the network, including Anne Carroll Moore, Bertha Mahony, Louise Seaman, and May Massee, who helped to create the children’s publishing industry in America, while Chapter Three investigates the second generation, including Mabel Williams, Margaret Scoggin, and Ursula Nordstrom, who entrenched children’s and adolescent literature in publishing houses and library services. In Chapter Four I explore the shifting concept of what constitutes “quality” within these texts, with an emphasis on the role of authors, illustrators, and critics in defining such value. Chapter Five investigates the use of female junior novels within the classroom, paying particular attention to the role of bibliotherapy, in which these texts were used to help teenagers solve their “developmental tasks,” as suggested by psychologist Robert J. Havighurst. A brief conclusion discusses the fall of the female junior novels and their network, while a coda addresses the republication of these texts today through the “nostalgia press.”
License granted by Amanda Allen ( on 2010-04-14T17:12:48Z (GMT): Permission is hereby granted to the University of Alberta Libraries to reproduce single copies of this thesis and to lend or sell such copies for private, scholarly or scientific research purposes only. Where the thesis is converted to, or otherwise made available in digital form, the University of Alberta will advise potential users of the thesis of the above terms. The author reserves all other publication and other rights in association with the copyright in the thesis, and except as herein provided, neither the thesis nor any substantial portion thereof may be printed or otherwise reproduced in any material form whatsoever without the author's prior written permission.
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