Date of Award

August 2022

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Mark Netzloff

Committee Members

Kristie Hamilton, Elana Levine, Sara Vanderhaagen


gender, girlhood, girls, novels, series fiction


This dissertation examines the material history of young adult books, as well as the many ways some girl protagonists have lived on in the cultural imagination through new media, visual adaptations, video and board games, and fan content. I discuss how young adult literature from the 1980s through the present has been received over time by readers and critics, and explore how these books reflect and respond to larger sociopolitical and cultural trends in the U.S. To accomplish this, Girlhood By the Book focuses on three areas: first, I synthesize the material history of young adult books by conducting a literary study of various texts published between 1983-2018. Second, I analyze these texts’ publication history, both where books were sold and how girls’ books connect to publishing trends in general. Third, I take seriously the concerns of the girl characters I discuss—because I take seriously the girls who read the books I analyze in Girlhood By the Book.

Available for download on Thursday, August 15, 2024