From Girl to Woman: American Women's Coming-of-Age Narratives

From Girl to Woman: American Women's Coming-of-Age Narratives

by Christy Rishoi


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Examines the crucial role that coming-of-age narratives have played in American feminism.

From Girl to Woman examines the coming-of-age narratives of a diverse group of American women writers, including Annie Dillard, Zora Neale Hurston, Maxine Hong Kingston, and Mary McCarthy, and explores the crucial role of such narratives in the development of American feminism. Women have long known that identity is complex and contradictory, but in the twentieth century their coming-of-age narratives finally voice this knowledge. Addressing a variety of themes—awakening sexuality, the body’s metamorphosis in puberty, consciousness of difference from males, and the socialization into feminine gender roles—these narratives reject the heroine’s narrative ending in romance, allowing American women writers to create alternative subjectivities by rejecting the notion that identity is ever fixed. While activists have succeeded in winning legal battles that have changed the legal status of women, these narratives perform the cultural work of exposing the painful contradictions faced by women as they come of age.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780791457221
Publisher: State University of New York Press
Publication date: 04/28/2003
Series: SUNY series in Feminist Criticism and Theory Series
Pages: 214
Product dimensions: 4.74(w) x 8.78(h) x 0.50(d)

About the Author

Christy Rishoi is Professor of English at Mott College.

Table of Contents


1. Identity and the Coming-of-Age Narrative

Recreating Womanhood

2. Feminism, Autobiography, and Theories of Subjectivity

Feminism and the Autobiographical Act
Western Theories of Subjectivity
Feminist Poststructuralist Revisions of Subjectivity

3. Coming of Age in America

Historical Accounts of Adolescence
Psychological Accounts of Adolescence
Literary Accounts of Coming of Age
The Coming-of-Age Narrative
American Grand Narratives of Coming of Age

4. Specifying American Girlhood: Annie Dillard and Anne Moody

Specifying the Universal in An American Childhood
Hegemonic Inscription of the Body in Coming of Age in Mississippi

5. "Lying Contests": Fictional Autobiography and Autobiographical Fiction

"Lying Contests": Signifying Coming of Age
Janie's Ways of Knowing

6. "Room for Paradoxes": Creating a Hybrid Identity

A "World of Paper Strengths": The Education of Kate Simon
Mythology and Narrative in the Creation of Identity: The Woman Warrior

Works Cited

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