CCWW Writing Transnational Girlhoods across Literature, Media and Society (6): Shaping the Girl-self on (Social) Media

Shaping the Girl-self on (Social) Media

Following the international success of Elena Ferrante’s My Brilliant Friend tetralogy (2011–2014) and the HBO series inspired by it, attention has intensified in the new media on the topic of girlhood and coming-of-age stories. At the same time, the #metoo campaign introduced aspects of feminist discourse into the mainstream, with girls becoming especially sensitised to the issues raised. This seminar series offers a fresh focus on girlhood and asks how we might understand it today.

Cecilia Brioni (Trinity College Dublin): 'YouTubHer: Girlhood and Online Content Creation on YouTube Italia'

In 2021, YouTube Southern Europe asked five female Italian YouTubers (La Scimmia Yoga, ShantiLives, Fraffrog, Graceonyourdash and Tech Princess) to create a video each about their personal and professional experience on the platform. These videos are part of the online campaign #YouTubHer, aiming to inspire girls to open their own YouTube channel. This paper examines how young female content creators represent their professional self in these videos. Brioni argues that these self-representations are influenced by the postfeminist idea of an individualist success that is mostly realised through normative feminine practices and behaviours like fashion, makeup or authenticity (Duffy and Hund, 2015). At the same time, however, the #YouTubHer campaign puts an accent on these female content creators’ entrepreneurial, technical and professional skills, thus offering a representation of online female entrepreneurship that is not just based on individualism and commercialisation, but also on competence, professionalism and collaborative effort.

Shauna Pomerantz (Brock University): 'Polaroid Intensities: The Immanent Possibilities of Ongoing Girlhood'

Pomerantz's paper unfolds around encounters with girlhood through a set of Polaroid images taken of her in her bedroom when she was 10 years old. The Polaroids are part of a network of contingently bound relations, or what Deleuze and Guattari (1987) call an assemblage. When the various bodies in the assemblage relationally connect through the nodal point of the Polaroids, possibilities for immanent girlhood emerge. As a 'developmental life stage', girlhood is always configured as 'the past'. Caught in a trap of linear temporality, we must move on to grow up. But this binary temporal thinking leads to a separation between life-stages and diminishes the potential of ongoing girlhood as an affective force. Rather than subscribing to unidirectional time, by drawing on immanent theorizing this paper asks: How does girlhood continue in adulthood – not as a static, inert past, but as an immanent experience of time, memory, and affect? And how might acknowledging this continuation challenge notions of Western development and, instead, reconfigure girlhood as ’constantly transforming relations’(Coleman, 2008, 168)?

Date of Event: 17 November 2022