Girls, Feminism, and Grassroots Literacies

Activism in the GirlZone

By Mary P. Sheridan-Rabideau

Subjects: Composition And Rhetoric Studies
Series: SUNY series in Feminist Criticism and Theory
Paperback : 9780791472989, 245 pages, January 2009
Hardcover : 9780791472972, 245 pages, March 2008

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Table of contents

List of Illustrations
Part One  Setting the Scene
1. The Telling Case of GirlZone
2. Building a Youthquake
3. Representations of Girl Culture, Realities of Feminist Activism
Part Two  Literacy in Action: Complicating Feminist Designs
4. Founding Documents, Founding Feminisms
5. Circulations of a Feminist Pedagogy
6. Redesigning Girls’ Image Stores
7. The Economics of Activism
Coda  Success and Sustainability

Case study of the life of a feminist organization in a changing political and funding climate.


Winner of the 2010 Winifred Bryan Horner Outstanding Book Award presented by The Coalition of Women Scholars in the History of Rhetoric and Composition

This book explores the rise and fall of a grassroots, girl-centered organization, GirlZone, which sought to make social change on a local level. Whether skateboarding or designing Web pages, celebrating in weekend "GrrrlFests" or producing a biweekly RadioGirl program, participants in GirlZone came to understand themselves as competent actors in a variety of activities they had previously thought were closed off to them. Drawing on six years of fieldwork examining GirlZone from its inception until its demise, Mary P. Sheridan-Rabideau offers insights on the current state of and study of literacy in the extracurriculum. She addresses how girls have become cultural flashpoints reflecting societal—and particularly feminist—anxieties and hopes about the present and the future. Sheridan-Rabideau does more than chronicle the pressure girls face; she offers advice on how feminists, cultural critics, and activists can effect social change on local levels, even in today's increasingly globalized contexts.

Mary P. Sheridan-Rabideau is Associate Professor of English and Director of Composition at the University of Wyoming. She is the coeditor (with Gesa E. Kirsch, Faye Spencer Maor, Lance Massey, and Lee Nickoson-Massey) of Feminism and Composition: A Critical Sourcebook.


"…for historians, organizers, activists, and educators who are interested in feminisms, girls, or the lifecycle of a grassroots organization, the book will be an interesting read and an important resource." — Journal of the History of Childhood and Youth

"Sheridan-Rabideau presents a poignant example of how feminist activism has existed and can exist in today's society with well-researched feminist theory … The case of GirlZone and Sheridan-Rabideau's discussion of it are important to feminist scholars and feminist activists." — Femspec

"Sheridan-Rabideau tells the fascinating but sadly all too common story of the rise and demise of a feminist organization for girls … The book contextualizes the emergence of this feminist organization within 1990s girl culture and poses a challenge to feminism's image for both a new generation and to potential funding agencies in a time and context hostile to feminism." — CHOICE

"This is a bright, readable, passionate, and highly authoritative book about the struggle between grassroots politics and consumer/media culture. Sheridan-Rabideau uses insights from literacy, rhetoric, and discourse studies to offer fascinating analyses of communication difficulties and decision making in the GirlZone organization." — Deborah Brandt, author of Literacy in American Lives