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Princess Cultures

Mediating Girls’ Imaginations and Identities


Edited By Miriam Forman-Brunell and Rebecca C. Hains

Princesses today are significant figures in girls’ culture in the United States and around the world. Although the reign of girls’ princess culture has generated intense debate, this anthology is the first to bring together international and interdisciplinary perspectives on the multitude of princess cultures, continuously redrawn and recast by grownups and girls from the Ancien Régime to the New Millennium. Essays critically examine the gendered, racialized, classed, and ethnic meanings of royal figures and fairytale and pop culture princesses inscribed in folk tales, movies, cartoons, video games, dolls, and imitated in play and performance. Focusing on the representation and reception of the princess, this collection sheds new light on the position of princess cultures mediating the lives, imaginations, and identities of girls from toddlers to teenagers – and beyond.
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When I was four years old, Disney’s Sleeping Beauty (1959) stirred my interest in things princess. But only briefly. After yet another pair of recently-purchased, much longed for and poorly produced plastic slippers cracked the moment I stood up, I grew disillusioned and gave up on princess culture.

Decades later, students in a course I taught on the history of girlhood reawakened my notice of the princess. It is to my insightful students, first at Wellesely College and since 1994 at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, to whom I am indebted for inspiring me to probe the princess. At the American Play, Sports, Games, Entertainment, and Fantasy in American Culture Conference at the Strong National Museum of Play, in Rochester, New York and at the World Congress of the International Toy Research Association Conference on Toys & Culture in Nafplion, Greece, the enthusiastic audiences offered lots more excellent suggestions. I incorporated these into “The Graceful and Gritty Princess: Managing Girlhoods from the New Nation to the New Millennium,” an essay published in the American Journal of Play in 2009. I co-authored the essay with Julie Eaton whose insights into contemporary princess culture deepened my understandings.

The outstanding contributors to this lively collection, especially Diana Anselmo-Sequeira, opened my eyes to unforeseen princess cultures. A bevy of other wonderful women made this princess project come true. My co-editor, Rebecca Hains, or “Princess Rebecca,” made collaborating on this collection a pleasure. ← vii | viii → At Peter Lang, it...

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