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The Australian National University

Reading 'Girls' - call for papers for an edited book

Premiering on HBO to critical acclaim in 2012, Lena Dunham’s cable television series Girls is a candid and comical look at the lives of four young women living in Brooklyn, New York. Following in the footsteps of the earlier post-feminist, woman-centred television series, Sex and the City (SATC), Girls explores numerous feminist themes centring on an exploration of what it is like to be a white New York woman.  However, compared to SATC, the show is a coming-of-age story with the characters awkwardly hovering between adolescence and adulthood.

Although the title Girls perhaps symbolises a post-feminist sensibility, its appearance in the opening credits in bold uppercase lettering subverts the pejorative nature of the word “girl” and demonstrates a knowing irony that permeates the show and perhaps an unwillingness to leave feminism behind so easily. Yet questions remain: Who are the ‘girls’? And what do they stand for? Where does feminism fit into the show?

Whether a fan or a critic, the show has generated an enormous amount of discussion and controversy in the global media. This call for papers is interested in chapters that draw on feminist/gender studies perspectives to respond to and discuss:

  • any aspect of the show (Seasons 1-4)
  • comparisons between Girls and other woman-centred TV shows
  • public controversies raised by the show
  • Lena Dunham as the show’s creator/writer/director/producer

Possible chapter topics include:

  • Female/male friendship
  • Bodies/embodiment
  • Feminism/postfeminism
  • Sex/Sexuality
  • Mental health
  • Race/Ethnicity/privilege
  • Self-entitlement
  • Social class/post-recession
  • Narrative
  • Consumerism
  • Work/employment/underemployment
  • Satire
  • Confessional writing/Memoir/diaries
  • Millennial femininities
  • Digital feminisms
  • Reproductive ‘choices’
  • Sex/romance
  • Masculinities/femininities
  • Third wave/girl power/digital activism
  • Second wave feminism/personal is political
  • Intertextual postfeminism
  • Feminist hauntings

There has been interest in this collection from two high-profile global publishers and the editors anticipate signing a contract shortly after the contributor list is finalised. Interested authors are invited to submit chapter proposals (approx. 300 words) and a short biographical sketch by 1 June 2015. If accepted, final submissions of no more than 6,500 words (including notes and references) must be submitted by 15 December 2015. Please send abstracts or queries directly to:

Editors: Meredith Nash and Imelda Whelehan, University of Tasmania