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Dolls Studies

The Many Meanings of Girls’ Toys and Play


Miriam Forman-Brunell and Jennifer Dawn Whitney

Dolls are the focus of this pioneering anthology establishing Dolls Studies as an interdisciplinary field of scholarly inquiry. This work revises conventional understandings of what constitutes a doll; broadens the age range to include female adolescents, women and others; locates dolls in untraditional contexts; and utilizes new methodological practices and theoretical frameworks. Placing dolls at the center of analysis reveals how critical girls’ toys are in the making – and undoing – of racial, ethnic, national, religious, sexual, class, and gender ideologies and identities. Catharine Driscoll, Robin Bernstein, Elizabeth Chin are among the dozen scholars who interrogate doll products, producers, players, and youthful performers (like Nicki Minaj). Covering eight countries and crossing three centuries, this volume reveals the potential of dolls – and girls at play – to construct and disrupt, mediate and contest, perform and rescript girlhoods.

Miriam Forman-Brunell is Professor of History at the University of Missouri-Kansas City and author of Made to Play House: Dolls and the Commercialization of American Girlhood (1993/8). Her recent publications include Babysitters: An American History (2009) and The Girls’ History and Culture Readers (2011).

Jennifer Dawn Whitney teaches in the School of English, Communication, and Philosophy at Cardiff University. She received her PhD in critical and cultural theory in 2013. Her recent publications appear in Girlhood Studies
and Word and Text.