Playing with America's Doll

A Cultural Analysis of the American Girl Collection

Authors: Zaslow, Emilie

  • Explores how complex notions of girlhood are defined by the American Girl brand
  • Discusses how feminist rhetoric has influenced marketing directed toward American women and girls
  • Explores what American Girl books and dolls communicate to girls about femininity, racial identity, ethnicity, and what it means to be an American
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eBook $79.99
price for USA (gross)
  • ISBN 978-1-137-56649-2
  • Digitally watermarked, DRM-free
  • Included format: PDF, EPUB
  • ebooks can be used on all reading devices
  • Immediate eBook download after purchase
Hardcover $99.99
price for USA
  • ISBN 978-1-137-56648-5
  • Free shipping for individuals worldwide
  • Usually dispatched within 3 to 5 business days.
About this book

This critical account of the American Girl brand explores what its books and dolls communicate to girls about femininity, racial identity, ethnicity, and what it means to be an American. Emilie Zaslow begins by tracing the development of American Girl and situates the company’s growth and popularity in a social history of girl power media culture. She then weaves analyses of the collection’s narrative and material representations with qualitative research on mothers and girls. Examining the dolls with both a critical eye and a fan’s curiosity, Zaslow raises questions about the values espoused by this iconic American brand.

About the authors

Emilie Zaslow is Associate Professor of Communication Studies at Pace University, New York City, USA. She is the author of Feminism, Inc.: Coming of Age in Girl Power Media Culture (2009).

Reviews

“Attention, millennials and mothers, doll enthusiasts and political activists, scholars and students: this meticulously researched book is the first comprehensive history to unpack Girl Power’s most iconic artifacts of girls’ cultures and girlhoods from the mid-1980s to the present. Emilie Zaslow skillfully probes the paradoxes between feminism and femininity, play and politics, and commodity activism and consumer consumption embodied in the dolls, inscribed in their stories, and interpreted by players and parents. This study will contribute to a range of fields—from girls’ studies and childhood studies to women’s studies, from media studies to American studies, and book studies to dolls’ studies.” (Miriam Forman-Brunell, University of Missouri-Kansas City, USA)

“Written in a style that makes its incisive arguments accessible to any audience, the book beautifully elucidates American Girl's conflicting logics regarding race, ethnicity, gender, agency, social activism, and consumption.” (Sarah Projansky, University of Utah, USA)

 “Zaslow deftly argues how the dolls, their stories, and the industry of which they are a part are valuable tools for identity development, social justice learning, and creativity, while they simultaneously participate in the corporate structure that desires ever-expanding profit. This book is a needed reminder of the complex intersection of childhood and capitalism.” (Allison Butler, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, USA)

Table of contents (7 chapters)

  • Introduction: Unpacking America’s Doll

    Zaslow, Emilie

    Pages 1-12

  • Branding the American Girl: The Making of Cultural Icons

    Zaslow, Emilie

    Pages 13-34

  • Situating American Girl: Tools of Socialization in a Changing Culture

    Zaslow, Emilie

    Pages 35-70

  • “Baby Doll, You Made the World a Little Bit Better by Speaking Out for What You Believe In”: Narratives of Femininity and Political Action in the BeForever Collection

    Zaslow, Emilie

    Pages 71-104

  • From “This Where Freedom Supposed to Be At” to “She Knew She Would Never Stop Speaking Out for What Was Right”: Racial Logics and African American Identity in American Girl

    Zaslow, Emilie

    Pages 105-135

Buy this book

eBook $79.99
price for USA (gross)
  • ISBN 978-1-137-56649-2
  • Digitally watermarked, DRM-free
  • Included format: PDF, EPUB
  • ebooks can be used on all reading devices
  • Immediate eBook download after purchase
Hardcover $99.99
price for USA
  • ISBN 978-1-137-56648-5
  • Free shipping for individuals worldwide
  • Usually dispatched within 3 to 5 business days.
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Bibliographic Information

Bibliographic Information
Book Title
Playing with America's Doll
Book Subtitle
A Cultural Analysis of the American Girl Collection
Authors
Copyright
2017
Publisher
Palgrave Macmillan US
Copyright Holder
The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s)
eBook ISBN
978-1-137-56649-2
DOI
10.1057/978-1-137-56649-2
Hardcover ISBN
978-1-137-56648-5
Edition Number
1
Number of Pages
XI, 204
Number of Illustrations and Tables
8 illustrations in colour
Topics