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Stories of Boy Scouts, Barbie Dolls, and Prom Dresses: Challenging College Students to Explore the Popular Culture of Their Childhood

by Amy M. Damico & Sara E. Quay - 2006

This self-reflective article addresses the experiences two professors encountered when teaching a class about the popular culture of girls and boys to undergraduates at a small liberal arts college. The issues addressed include student reactions, teaching strategies, and the use of an online discussion platform and assessment. The instructors note that adjusting their teaching styles contributed to the eventual success of the course.

“You’re overanalyzing.”

“You’re ruining my childhood.”

“These people have too much time on their hands.”

“These people take things too far.”


Comments like these echoed throughout the second class meeting of HON350 Girls and Boys, a seminar course we developed for the honors program at our college. Students in the college honors program are required to take three honors seminars before they graduate, and the seminars are developed and taught by faculty in different areas of the college. We developed Girls and Boys as a class that would explore elements of popular culture that are germane to childhood and coming of age, and we aimed to do so from a critical cultural perspective that favored a feminist approach to analysis. As two faculty members who felt that there was relatively little explicit feminist thought on our campus and who had come into our own feminism through college-level courses, we were excited about teaching this class. We hoped to introduce our students to some of the major tenets of other cultural theories as well—from Marxism to cultural imperialism—and to help them learn to apply those theories to aspects of popular culture. The icons and rituals of childhood seemed to fit the bill exactly. From Barbie dolls and Boy Scouts to Nancy Drew books and the prom, our students had grown up surrounded by these popular artifacts and therefore were familiar with them. At the same time, as college sophomores and juniors, the students were old enough, we believed, to be able to look at those icons from the somewhat objective distance that our theories required.

We knew that the ideas we planned to present would be challenging and that students would most likely struggle with the concept of analyzing aspects of their childhood worlds. At the same time, however, we were firmly committed to the value of looking at culture with a critical eye and couldn’t wait to share the course readings and assignments with our students. We anticipated them being able to connect with the material through stories of their own childhood and adolescence and that through those stories, they would be able to examine the world in which they had grown up from some new, different, and even exciting perspectives. What happened during the semester became a story unto itself, one in which the entire class—students and professors alike—learned that we are more loyal to the stories of our childhood than we may have realized and that learning to retell those stories in new ways can be both threatening and transformative.


Our first day of class was like any other first class meeting. We passed out the syllabus and talked with enthusiasm about what we would be doing in the course. Because we wanted to set a tone that encouraged safe, open discussion, we did an activity that allowed us to learn about the students and the students to learn about one another. In addition, because we were unsure about our students’ perspectives on gender and feminism, we administered an informal anonymous assessment to gauge the classroom climate. The open-ended questions we asked included, “Are there differences between men and women?” “How do you account for those differences?” “Are men and women equal?” “What is a feminist?” and “Are you a feminist? Why or why not?” Finally, we asked students to voluntarily sign informed consent forms that gave us permission to write about the information gathered from the assessments and other course materials. We ended class after reviewing what readings and written responses were expected in preparation for the next class.

Because our class met only once a week, we had set up an online component to the course. Using an online course platform known as Jenzabar, we posted a question, or prompt, about the assigned readings from week to week. Students were required to respond to the prompt, and therefore the readings, at least once before the next class. These threaded discussions allowed students to read not only the prompt and their response to it but also each other’s responses. In this way, students could read and respond to one another, creating an active and ongoing discussion between them about the reading. All responses to a prompt remained visible on the screen as students scrolled down the page so that we could all read the entire discussion as it evolved.

Through the use of the online discussions, students were able to articulate their thoughts about the readings in a written format. This allowed students who were quiet in class to have a voice in the written dialogue. That this dialogue took place without our physical presence seemed to help students express their concerns about the readings in a less traditional, less authoritative environment. And although students were aware that we were reading the discussions and even wrote our own responses from time to time, the online component of the course seemed to encourage them to talk about the issues in a less formal, more student-oriented way. At the same time, by reviewing the students’ responses to the readings—and to one another’s comments on the same—we were able to get a sense, in advance, of their thoughts about the week’s material. Doing so enabled us to monitor how well the students understood the articles and helped us to prepare for each class discussion. It also aided our ability to plan strategies to address problem areas and to ask specific questions or develop lesson plans that would help clarify or expand on particular topics.

During the first week of our class, we eagerly looked forward to seeing how the students reacted to the readings, one of which was entitled “Educating Barbie” (Rakow & Rakow, 1999). The article, a transcribed conversation between a mother and daughter talking about Barbie dolls, gave students a firsthand look at attitudes toward Barbie that were relatively feminist in nature. When we first logged on to the discussion and started reviewing the responses to this article, we were quite surprised by what we read.


Author: Joe

Now let’s look at the Rakow interview. Was anyone else disturbed by this? Do all ten year olds think like Caitlyn does? Is she right in her thinking that Barbie is the devil and anyone who plays with Barbie is bad? Granted the typical Barbie isn’t the perfect role model for young girls. Is Caitlyn right by taking her views to such an extreme?

Author: Carl

After reading the article, I can honestly say that Caitlin wasn’t the typical 10 year old. From my point of view, she obviously had to have been brainwashed by her feministic mother to hating such an innocent doll.

Author: Lauren

I definitely agree with you on this topic. I thought this girl did not talk like a 10 year old and, as Jay said, has been brainwashed by her mother. There is really no other way to explain her reaction towards Barbie at the age of 10.

Author: Nancy

Can we talk about the fact that all of the girls sound really intelligent and have ideas that seem beyond their years? Have I really lost touch with my adolescent self? It seems obvious to me that the girls are very influenced by their mothers’ feministic views (not bad, but I’m not sure it’s always good either—ahem Caitlin’s treatment of the Barbie that was obviously disliked). Is it just that I’m so used to reading about the stereotypical “dumb kid” that when I read a conversation with a real girl who has intelligent thoughts and interesting opinions that I think it’s abnormal?

Author: Maureen

The things that bother me most about Caitlin is that she is way too grown up for her age. Look at the world today—why would you be in a hurry to grow up? There are days when I could just be a kid again. This thought process is a little too advanced for a 10 year old. If I could speak to Caitlin I would tell her to enjoy her childhood.

Author: Anna

I totally agree that Caitlyn must be brainwashed. I was disturbed reading the article, her mom has ruined her childhood by forcing her own overzealous feminist ideas on her innocent child. I loved Barbie. Granted some little girls don’t like her but let them decide for themselves.

Comments of this nature escalated when we met as a group. For the entire three hours, no matter how hard we tried to redirect, refocus, or rechannel them, students lamented on just how much they disliked the transcribed conversation that we had asked them to read. Students also began to complain that the class was too “female oriented,” and many of the female students were worried that the men in the class would, or already did, feel uncomfortable. Although we assured our students that we would discuss boys and the male perspective as the semester unfolded (we had several weeks in the syllabus devoted to these topics), the students weren’t convinced and the tension was high. We listened to the students and empathized with their feelings, but we also assumed that their collective dissatisfaction would pass. We expected their resistance to subside as we moved through the course—and it did, but it was not automatic, and we had to do some important rethinking about ourselves and our teaching along the way.


Despite our initial enthusiasm about the course, our students’ responses to “Educating Barbie” were just the start of the challenges we faced in teaching Girls and Boys. As we progressed through the semester, we encountered a number of points of resistance to our hope that some of our students might experience insights and new ideas as we had done in our undergraduate theory courses, feminist and otherwise. As the online discussion of “Educating Barbie” demonstrates, one of the most significant roadblocks we encountered was our students’ feeling that we had done something to them and their childhoods in choosing and assigning the readings. Many instructors who teach media literacy, media criticism, or other forms of theory-based curriculum are familiar with the complaint directed by students against their teachers that we are “ruining (media, books, movies) for them.” Some claim that, as teachers, we are supposed to embrace this complaint as evidence that the students are learning. Regardless of whether this is true, we were quickly and clearly faced with an angry group of 20-year-olds who were simultaneously defensive about and nostalgic for their childhoods. They angrily accused us of “ruining their childhood” because we were “forcing” them to read “negative” perspectives on toys and activities from their youth that they had adored and recalled fondly. What we viewed as various critical perspectives the students viewed as criticism.

Another challenge, one that was also multilayered, had to do with the concept of feminism. We knew from teaching other classes that the term feminism has a different meaning to the current generation of college students than it does to those of us educated in the late 20th century. We also knew from our own college experiences that, regardless of the generation, some students will always react negatively to the concept of feminism regardless of whether they understand the term. Moreover, we had read about, heard about, and experienced occasions on which students had resisted identifying themselves with the word feminism—even if they believed in women’s rights—because of the widespread stereotype that feminists are angry man-haters. For these levels of resistance, we were prepared. What we weren’t prepared for was the confident assertion by our students that the limits on women’s freedoms prior to the feminist movement were myths and exaggerated stories rather than realities. We also weren’t prepared for the students’ perceptions that feminist theory was a club or cult to which we were trying to recruit or convert them. The recurrent use of the word brainwashing in the online responses to “Educating Barbie” captures this sentiment precisely.

Yet another obstacle was that we could not seem to move our students away from reacting to the readings from a position based solely on emotion and toward a position informed by theory. Although we believed students’ accounts of various texts to be important and allowed time for students to share their memories, we had trouble encouraging students to move away from commentary that emerged solely from their personal experiences. Whenever an author would critically look at a Barbie doll or a Hardy Boys book, the students would respond with personal accounts of how much they enjoyed these things as young people, as if their personal experience and the academic position were competing truths about the particular artifact. If we talked about the American Girls dolls from a Marxist perspective, for example, the students were quick to say how much they had loved having their own American Girl doll and that there was no cultural capital involved in owning one. Or, if there was, they didn’t care because of their emotional attachment to their memory. We had intended to introduce the theoretical positions as foundations for class discussions, but the students experienced them instead as “truths” that we were asking them to adopt at the expense of their childhoods. We wanted the students to challenge the ideas put forth by the authors, but instead of challenging the content of the readings, students challenged the scholars themselves and categorized them as “a bunch of angry people who need to get a life.” In the face of these and other points of resistance, we were pretty certain that we—and our class—were in trouble. (A complete list of our course readings is in Appendix A.)

So we talked about it. And vented. And strategized. And vented some more. The student discussions during the online threaded discussion were escalating in anger, tone, and attitude. They hated the readings. The pieces we so carefully selected and were so excited about discussing were seen as “wrong,” “ridiculous,” and “over the top.” Students were complaining to other students, faculty, and administrators about how awful this class was. We soon realized that we needed to do something to preserve all the work we had done to prepare for the course to ensure that the class would be a positive experience for the students and to maintain our sanity while not compromising our initial goals of exposing the students to perspectives with which they were not familiar.


Our most concrete response to our students’ reactions was to develop and pass out a chart that listed the theories that we were addressing in class and the key points that we wanted students to know about each theory. The day we introduced “the chart,” as it became affectionately called, we coached the students in filling in the blanks for the theories we had discussed to date (Figure 1). We then told them that they would continue to fill in the chart each time we introduced a new theory. We also clarified that the theories in the chart were to be used as tools or lenses that could be applied to examine a popular culture text. We emphasized that the theoretical tools could be used to complicate our understandings of texts and emphasized that such readings were not factual, but rather critical in nature, and that the chart could be used to compare and contrast different texts as they were applied to the same cultural artifact. We even added the category of “antifeminism” to the chart to allow them to categorize—and objectify—a position that many of them felt that they occupied as subjects in the interpretation process.

The integration of this chart transformed the class. We referred to it at the start of each unit as a way to introduce a new theory and to help students draw connections and distinctions between theories and how theories were applied in the course readings. When emotions started to run high, we would allow the students some time to express their feelings. We would then ask them to return to the chart to ground them in the theoretical—as opposed to personal—approaches to examining aspects of childhood popular culture. The chart became the touchstone of the class and, together with the other strategies that we tried, helped us to get back on track so that student learning could happen more effectively, not to mention more smoothly.


The main strength of the chart was that it became a tangible “tool” for students. Using the various “functions” (i.e., perspectives) of this tool, students became more adept at examining texts from various viewpoints. The chart assisted in our educational objectives in three main ways. First, by having students look at the same text from various positions (for example, Barbie from both a feminist and antifeminist perspective, the film Pocahontas from both a feminist and cultural imperialist perspective, and World Wrestling Entertainment [WWE] from both a Marxist and feminist perspective), students began to complicate their view of texts. They began to use language such as “A Marxist would look at this text by . . .” at the beginning of their discussions and began to compare and contrast the different components of the text on which each perspective would primarily focus. Second, this tool, or lens approach, gave students the distance that they needed to examine texts from various viewpoints in a way that did not make them feel like they had to agree with the particular analysis. Students began to acknowledge that they could see the reasoning behind the authors’ perspectives even if they still enjoyed the text itself. We continually emphasized that the understanding of critical perspectives and enjoyment of the toys, media, books, and so on we were examining were not mutually exclusive. As we progressed through the semester, students became more comfortable with this idea. Finally, as the ways to look at texts became more apparent to our students, their personal opinions began to become more situated and anchored in the course material. Students did not suddenly look at a text and provide an opinion based on theory; rather, they began to state more complicated and multifaceted opinions. In addition to explaining why they liked or disliked the artifact that we were discussing, they incorporated theoretical comments or observations in their discussions. Table 1 shows a summary of some of the challenges that we encountered and our methods for addressing them.


Despite some of the very real challenges that we faced in our Girls and Boys class, there were several components of our class that we felt worked really well. One of the things that we asked students to do was read a Nancy Drew book in conjunction with critical articles that discussed the series. The original books are “old” enough that some of the racial/parental issues stand out as politically incorrect or unfamiliar—a product of the historical and cultural moment in which they were written and published. Students could easily detect and comment on those moments, and they gained a sense of mastery as we reminded them that the same critical eye they turned to the Nancy Drew books could be turned to more contemporary childhood icons. This experience of putting theory into practice had a positive effect on them, and at the end of this discussion, many students were able to examine and brainstorm ways that current books, television programs, and films targeted toward adolescents are also products of their historical and cultural moment.

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Other components of the class worked as well. They included a visit to the toy store where students were asked to consider the types of toys sold and the organizational structure of the toy store environment. Here, we were able to engage students in a critical examination of how the popularity of particular toys is promoted and supported through marketing and consumer behavior, such as the “pink” aisle that houses girl toys, like dolls and play kitchen materials, or the “action” aisle that shelves boy toys, like wrestling action figures and super-soaker squirt guns. A cultural observation assignment engaged students in evaluating a cultural event from a theoretical perspective. Students were excited to apply one of their new “tools” to a common occurrence (birthday party, soccer game, arcade) in our society. During our unit on hygiene and appearance, we asked students to keep a personal hygiene journal for a week whereby they would note each time they participated in an activity related to their appearance (brushing their hair, showering, putting on make-up, and so on). We found that this activity prompted a solid discussion of how attentive students were to their appearance. This dialogue, which was once again based on the experience of putting theory into practice through keeping the journal, connected well with a sociology professor’s guest lecture on the provocative topics of “looking” and “being looked at.”

Guest speakers also worked well in this class and allowed our students to demonstrate what kinds of issues we were wrestling with by asking our guests some complex and thoughtful questions. It also gave them an opportunity to hear other faculty talk about gender, childhood, and popular culture, relieving us of our role as “childhood destroyers” and broadening our students’ understanding of different ways to relate to, and express opinions on, the subject. In our unit on gender and sports, for example, we invited two male coaches of summer girls’ and boys’ lacrosse camps to talk to the class. The coaches started by talking about the differences they noticed between the girl and boy players and how, as coaches, they did or did not adapt the camps over time in response to gender differences. In our debriefing session with students (without the coaches), it was clear that, in some cases, our students had more insight than the coaches did about the impact that gender had on both the coaches and their athletes. In fact, our students expressed surprise at some of the coaches’ comments about male versus female athletes, and we felt, maybe for the first time, that they were really starting to engage with the class on a new level. Similarly, in our unit on parenting, we invited parents from within the college community— deans, professors, administrators—to join the class as a part of a panel on parents and parenting. Interestingly, there was a wide range of families represented, from single parents, to parents who had adopted children, to divorced parents, to parents from nuclear families. The parents talked about their children and the role that gender played or did not seem to play in their parenting styles, and students asked numerous questions that emerged from our previous class discussions.


As the course progressed, despite the decrease in negative reactions and the increase in healthy debate, we remained somewhat uneasy about what our students were or were not learning, whether they remained emotional about and resistant to the ideas that the class centered on, or whether one or more of our strategies might have had a positive effect on their learning. As time went on, however, our online threaded discussion demonstrated that a new level of response and reflection was emerging.


Author: Emily

Hegemonic masculinity is portrayed through the white, middle class, heterosexual professional because he is the one with both the money and power. The idea of hegemonic masculinity gives us guidelines for what is acceptable in regards to being a man, a masculine man at that. Violence is seen as acceptable and normal rather than deviant because [it] is so much a part of being male.

Author: Melanie

Hegemonic masculinity refers to the ideal male. A man that is middle upper class, heterosexual. Men who fit this role define masculinity through their lifestyle and actions. Violence is defined by the hegemonic male because his behavior is seen as what is appropriate.


Author: Michelle

After reading Todesco’s piece on girl scouts I definitely have a different view on girl scouting. I remember being a scout when I was little and have to bake things or sew certain things, and many other “female” tasks to get career badges to put on my vest or sash. I never realized how one sided this was. We didn’t get career badges for carpentry or policemen or anything of that nature. Todesco points out that many of the books claim that girl scouts are supposed to be well rounded in a variety of skills like outdoor survival skills or rescue skills yet the majority of the focus for badges was on domesticated issues like housework.

Author: Anita

But I think girl scouting has changed some since this article was written. My aunts are their daughter’s leader (Emma has two moms) and I think just that fact alone says a lot. My aunt is also one of the most feminist people I know and she thinks girl scouts are great. We talked about the article when I saw her this weekend and it sounds like a lot of it has changed. Girls are learning about values and sports and nature. Last year Emma told me about some badge she was doing where she had to interview women on what they thought about being a woman today.

What we observed in these online discussions was a new use of language. Students demonstrated that they could consider the merits of the reading, adopt some new vocabulary, and respond critically to the content. This new level of responses also took place in the classroom. Although students weren’t always in agreement with the positions articulated in the assigned readings, they began to challenge the authors’ perspectives from a theoretical standpoint rather than simply an emotional one. Students continued to offer their own perspectives on topics, but now those opinions were clearly informed by the readings, the theories, and their own original ideas.


At the end of the course, we administered the same questionnaire that we had given to students on the first day of class. We did so with the hope that we would be able to determine whether we had met our original goal of encouraging students to think about the popular culture of their childhood from various perspectives. Given that our hopes were somewhat diminished at the beginning of the semester regarding feminism in particular, we found the differences in student answers to the question “Are you a feminist?” most enlightening. Even though not all students would profess to label themselves feminists, their understanding of the term was evidentially expanded from the start of the semester. In fact, more than half changed their answer from No to Yes from the pre- to posttest administration.


Student A Pre: No, I prefer not to go into debates about issues such as women/men, religion and politics.

Student A Post: Yes! Because I became one in this class! But I appreciate more the role women play in our lives.

Student B Pre: No, I don’t think I am a feminist. Yes I feel very strongly for women’s rights and I want women to be seen as equals to men but I think that calling myself a feminist is going a little far. I don’t protest or hold meetings on the issue of women’s rights. I just voice my opinion and stick my ground about the issue.

Student B Post: Yes, I believe I am a feminist. I feel strongly for equality of women and men and I think that the feminist movement is a good one. I take every opportunity I get to work for equality and to stop the degrading of women.

Student C Pre: I am not a feminist because I always try to see the conflict from both ends of the spectrum without taking sides. I don’t believe one sex should have more pull than the other except in certain cases like construction. A man should be in charge of the heavy work because their bodies are built better for it.

Student C Post: No I don’t think I am a feminist but I do see the points they are trying to make. I agree with many ideas that men have the upper hand, but I don’t think I am a feminist because I don’t think every aspect should be equal.

Student D Pre: No. I believe in what I feel. I do not feel that one sex is superior to the other although some might very well believe so I feel that I am equal to all men and women. I don’t feel there is a need for me as an individual to think otherwise. I am an individual who thinks on their own and doesn’t necessarily need to follow others beliefs and ways.

Student D Post: Yes, I believe that many gender stereotypes should be challenged. Today our society relies so heavily upon certain stereotypes like that men are the stronger sex. Women should be able to do the same things that men do.

The comparison of the pre-post responses was the reward for our struggles. It was evident from the student responses that a broadening of their thinking had occurred. The opinions expressed in the posttest responses were well reasoned and articulated in ways that were representative of what we tried to do. Many of the posttest responses demonstrated changes from more generalized and cliched pretest answers to the same questions.


Britzman (1991) noted that when teachers do not force students to examine and critique aspects of the popular culture that they like, students leave classes without ever having their perspectives and opinions challenged or deeply explored. However, as Buckingham (1993) and Alvermann, Moon, and Hagood (1999) noted, the teacher needs to find an appropriate balance between acknowledging, respecting, and exploring students’ pleasure in the popular culture and creating a classroom environment in which students can gain the skills needed to improve upon their critique of the popular culture. Upon reflection, this balance is one that we should have initially thought more about and discussed more explicitly when creating the course, and it is something that those who teach in areas of media literacy and cultural studies should constantly be considering. In addition, Alvermann et al. suggested that emotional and intellectual or critical reactions to texts are not separate entities. Although initially we saw the students’ personal reactions as roadblocks to understanding the critical perspectives that we were trying to share, we soon realized that the personal responses needed to be respected, acknowledged, challenged, and complicated rather than disregarded and separated from critical viewpoints.

The content of our class was selected for our college’s population of primarily White middle- to upper-middle-class students. As such, the popular culture texts and readings about these texts chosen for discussion were primarily those that appealed to that demographic and would not necessarily be appropriate for a more diverse population. We did include a few examples of popular culture from other populations. For example, in our coming-of-age unit, we discussed and read about the quinceanera, the Latin American coming-of-age ritual. We found that because no one in the class had experienced a quinceanera, students could more easily offer up critical perspectives on the event. However, focusing too much on popular culture that the students in the class have not experienced is not something that we would recommend. Although its inclusion is important to add diversity, we feel that the real work of developing critical interpretation comes from examining texts that one cares deeply about.

In the future, we hope to improve upon this class by continuing to self-reflect on this experience and incorporating our ideas for improvement into practice. We hope to add to our content by including more electronic media and more examples of texts that are at the forefront in the popular culture when we teach the course. We also intend to ask students to bring in their own examples of texts that they would like to examine so that they have more choice about the direction of the course.


As all teachers know, students are not the only ones who learn in the classroom; learning is inherent in every teaching experience. For us, it was our own learning that makes the story of teaching HON350 Girls and Boys so compelling. Far enough into our teaching careers that we thought we knew what it meant to “expect the unexpected,” we were nonetheless taken aback by what our students led us to do, think, and learn about ourselves as teachers. Determined to make the course a success, we had no choice but to question the approach to the material that we had planned so carefully. In doing so, we learned that we needed to adjust our classes repeatedly to deliberately respond to what we read about online and heard about in the classroom. We learned that to choose to teach material to which students are resistant is to choose to listen to, rather than be threatened by, student reactions. We learned that it is absolutely critical to reflect before responding to student emotion and complaint. We learned that students hold dear the stories of their childhoods and that to ask them to reimagine those stories is to tread on fragile ground. We learned that when students accept the invitation and look at their own lives through a new lens, we must recognize and celebrate the intellectual courage it took for them to do so. We learned that being a teacher is about the stories that our students tell about us—how they hated us, how we challenged them, and how they changed as a result of a class that we taught. We learned that we, too, hold stories dear—especially those we tell about ourselves as teachers—and that there are moments when, like our students, we too must look at our stories through a new lens. In doing so, we can transform not only our students but ourselves as well.


Required Books

Brumberg, J. J. (1997). The Body Project: An intimate history of American girls. New York: Random House.

Inness, S. (Ed.) (1998). Delinquents & debutantes: Twentieth-century American girls’ cultures. New York: New York University Press.

Mazzarella, S., & Pecora, N. (Eds.). (1999). Growing up girls: Popular culture and the construction of identity. New York: Peter Lang.

Vida, V. (2000). Girls on the verge. New York: Griffin Trade Paperbacks.

Articles and Additional Selections

Baumgaidner, J., & Richards, A. (2000). Manifesta. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

Consalvo, M. (2000). The monsters next door: Media constructions of boys and violence. Paper submitted to the International Communication Association.

Findlen, B. (1995). Listen up: Voices from the next feminist generation. Seattle, WA: Seal Press.

Hersch, P. (1998). A tribe apart. New York: Ballantine.

Nikkah, J. (2000). Our boys speak. New York: St. Martins Griffin.

Overbeck, A. (2000). Which girl(s)? What power: (Re)constructing girls and feminism in popular media discourse. Paper submitted to the International Communication Association.

Pollack, W. (1998). Real boys. New York: Henry Holt.

Sandler, S. (Ed.) (1999). Ophelia speaks. New York: HarperCollins.

Watson, E., & Martin, D. (2000). The Miss America Pageant: Pluralism, femininity, and Cinderella all in one. Journal of Popular Culture, 34, 105-126.


Alvermann, D., Moon, J., & Hagood, M. (1999). Popular culture in the classroom: Teaching and researching critical media literacy. Chicago: National Reading Conference.

Britzman, D. (1991). Decentering discourses in teacher education: Or, the unleashing of popular things. Journal of Education, 173(3), 60-80.

Buckingham, D. (1993). Children talking television: The making of television literacy. London: Farmer.

Consalvo, M. (2000). The monsters next door: Media constructions of boys and violence. Paper submitted to the International Communication Association.

Rakow, L. F., & Rakow, C. S. (1999). Educating Barbie. In S. Mazzarella & N. Pecora (Eds.), Growing up girls: Popular culture and the construction of identity (pp. 11-20). New York: Peter Lang.

Tedesco, L. (1998). Making a girl into a scout: Americanizing scouting for girls. In Sherrie Inness (Ed.), Delinquents & debutantes: Twentieth-century American girls’ cultures (pp. 19-39). New York: New York University Press.

Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record Volume 108 Number 4, 2006, p. 604-620
https://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 12363, Date Accessed: 5/28/2022 5:46:31 AM

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About the Author
  • Amy Damico
    Endicott College
    E-mail Author
    AMY M. DAMICO is an associate professor in the Communication Department at Endicott College. Her interests include media literacy and children’s media. Her most recent article about the results of a media literacy curriculum with fourth-grade girls appears in the Journal of Research in Childhood Education.
  • Sara Quay
    Endicott College
    SARA E. QUAY is dean of Education and Liberal Studies at Endicott College. She has published books, articles, and editorials on education, academic administration, and literary and cultural studies. Dedicated to the advancement of student learning at all levels, she has presented nationally on topics ranging from media literacy and pedagogy to faculty development and administrative leadership.
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