A Literary and Cultural History
Publication: Oct 08
Publication: Jul 08
6 x 9
The history of the shifting image of the tomboy in popular cultureRead the Introduction (pdf).
Starting with the figure of a bold, boisterous girl in the mid-nineteenth century and ending with the “girl power” movement of the 1990s, Tomboys is the first full-length critical study of this gender-bending code of female conduct. Michelle Abate uncovers the origins, charts the trajectory, and traces the literary and cultural transformations that the concept of “tomboy” has undergone in the United States. Abate focuses on literature including Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women and Carson McCullers’s The Member of the Wedding and films such as Peter Bogdanovich’s Paper Moon. She also draws on lesser-known texts like E.D.E.N. Southworth’s once wildly popular 1859 novel The Hidden Hand, Cold War lesbian pulp fiction, and New Queer Cinema from the 1990s.
Tomboys also explores the gender and sexual dynamics of tomboyism, and offers intriguing discussions of race and ethnicity’s role in the construction of the enduring cultural archetype. Abate’s insightful analysis provides useful, thought-provoking connections between different literary works and eras. The result demystifies this cultural phenomenon and challenges readers to consider tomboys in a whole new light.
Table of Contents
Introduction: From Antebellum Hoyden to Millennial Girl Power; The Unwritten History (and Hidden History) of Tomboyism in the United States
1. The White Tomboy Launches a Gender Backlash: E.D.E.N. Southworth's The Hidden Hand
2. The Tomboy Becomes a Cultural Phenomenon: Louisa May Alcott's Little Women
3. The Tomboy Matures Into the New Woman: Sarah Orne Jewett's A Country Doctor
4. The Tomboy is Reinvented an the Exercise Enthusiast: Charlotte Perkins Gilman's Herland
5. The Tomboy Becomes the All-Americanizing Girl: Willa Cather's O Pioneers! and My Antonia
6. The Tomboy Shifts From Feminist to Flapper: Clara Bow in Victor Fleming's Hula
7. The Tomboy Turns Freakishly Queer and Queerly Freakish: Carson McCullers's The Member of the Wedding
8. The Tomboy Becomes the "Odd Girl Out": Ann Bannon's Women in the Shadows
9. The Tomboy Returns to Hollywood: Tatum O'Neal in Peter Bogdanovich's Paper Moon
Photographs follow page 144