Journeys, Detours, Breakdowns
The 2015 Film & History Conference

CFP: Girlz II Women

There is no journey narrative more central than the coming-of-age story, and also no narrative more gendered. The formative journey from childhood to adulthood, from innocence to experience, has functioned both as a story of personal growth and development and as a metaphor for larger narratives about the “coming of age” of a cultural subgroup, a nation, or, in Joseph Campbell’s famously totalizing theory of “The Hero’s Journey,” the story of humanity itself. But this journey has, of course, always been constructed as masculine.

At the same time, coming-of-age narratives concerned with the journey from girlhood to womanhood have maintained an at times parallel, at times counter- tradition within cinematic and televisual culture, from Dorothy Gale in The Wizard of Oz to Andie Walsh in Pretty in Pink to the struggling twenty-somethings in Lena Dunham’s Girls. These narratives cross of range of other narrative genres, from a teen romantic comedy like Gidget to Sofia Coppola’s moody drama The Virgin Suicides to Katniss Everdeen’s superhero in The Hunger Games movies. Some seem to function as “female” versions of male coming-of-age stories; others, such as Todd Solondz’s dark indie Welcome to the Dollhouse, challenge the basic narrative conventions of the coming-of-age story.

How does the representation of gender identities transform the traditional coming-of-age narratives? How do challenges and alternatives to the dominant gendered forms of coming-of-age narratives register the historical conflicts surrounding the representation and meaning of gender and gender identity? What are the different traditions of counter coming-of-age narratives, what strategies do they employ, and what does their reception say about the cultural centrality of the coming-of-age journey? How does the gender identification of the key creative personnel, from writers to directors to actors, affect the structure and reception of coming-of-age narratives of girls and women?

This area, comprising multiple panels, welcomes proposals on the subject of gender and coming-of-age in films and television programs. Possible topics may include, but are not limited to, the following:

Proposals for complete panels (three related presentations) are also welcome, but they must include an abstract and contact information, including an e-mail address, for each presenter. For updates and registration information about the upcoming meeting, see the Film & History website (

Please send your 200-word proposal by e-mail to the Area Chair by July 1, 2015:

John Alberti
Northern Kentucky University


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