CFP – Special Issue of Girlhood Studies: Locating Tween Girls

Call for Papers for a Special Issue of Girlhood Studies
Locating Tween Girls

Since more than a decade spans early tween studies in the culture of girlhood from Mitchell and Reid-Walsh (2005) to the contemporary work in this area of Natalie Coulter (2014) and Melanie Kennedy (forthcoming), we invite articles that explore the spaces and places of tween girls.

Positioned in the liminal spaces between childhood and adolescence, the tween girl, aged roughly between 7 and 12, is a discursively constructed consumer subject with her own distinct cultures and experiences. She is a marketized subjectivity of pre-adolescence. While the tween has been recognized as a significant figure since the early twenty-first century most of the research on girls in the field of girlhood studies assumes that the girl is the teenage one and this means that work on the younger, pre-adolescent girl has been minimal and/or marginalized. Part of this may be the result of methodological issues related to the difficulty of accessing young girls, as well as the tendency to treat the cultures of younger girls as frivolous since the rebellion and resistance of the (usually older) can-do girl that is the focus of so much work in girls’ studies appears less overtly at the tween stage. A further reason may be that tween media culture is perceived, largely, as being corporate media culture.

The primary goal of this Special Issue of Girlhood Studies is to address these oversights by focusing specifically on the cultures, politics, and experiences of pre-adolescent girls in their own right, rather than as an extension to or subcategory of children or teenage girls. It will provide a timely opportunity to explore the significance to girlhood studies of the development of tweenhood and to question the continued usefulness of the definitions of tweens offered in academic writing and popular discourses at the turn of the twenty-first century.

This issue will raise critical questions on the tween girl and her position in the field of girlhood studies.

  • How do we define the pre-adolescent girl and the tween in this field?
  • Do studies on the tween girl push a reframing of the field of girlhood studies?
  • What methodologies are required in the study of tweens and preadolescent girls?
  • How do we work with the discursive framings of the tween girl who has been a predominantly western, white, middle-class, heteronormative, and able-bodied subject?

These questions leads to broader questions on the lived experiences of actual girls.

  • How do girls engage with, negotiate or resist the framing of tween as, largely, a western, white, middle-class, heteronormative able-bodied subject?
  • What do girls do with the tween cultures that are produced for them but rarely by them? Where are the spaces in which pre-adolescent girls produce their own cultures?
  • How do girls weave tweenness—as a potential resource of subjectivity—into and out of their experiences of everyday life?

We are particularly interested in work that incorporates the voices of girls themselves.

Potential topics for this issue include, but are not limited to:

  • the question of girls as a category
  • the pre-adolescent girl within and beyond commodification
  • the language and methods specific to tween research
  • theorizing the tween and tweening theory
  • the potential of a pretween subjectivity
  • tweenhood as a site of subjectivity
  • the liminality of tweenhood
  • the tween as a potentially neoliberal subject
  • the tween in postfeminist spaces
  • global or local tweenhoods and tween cultures
  • tween resistances and rebellions
  • the materialities of tweenhood
  • media for, about, or by tweens
  • tween media cultures, and the cultural industries of the tween girl (advertising, retail, marketing, media, digital media, gaming and so on)
  • the intersectionality of tweenhood with race, class, sexuality, disability and such like
  • the history of tweens and preadolescence

Article Submission
Please direct inquiries to Guest Editors, Natalie Coulter ( or Melanie Kennedy ( and send expressions of interest and/or abstracts to either of them by 1 November 2016. Full manuscripts are due by 01 May 2017.

Authors should provide a cover page giving brief biographical details (up to 100 words), institutional affiliation(s) and full contact information, including an email address.

Articles may be no longer than 6,500 words including the abstract (up to 150 words), keywords (6 to 8 in alphabetical order), notes, captions and tables, acknowledgements (if any), biographical details (taken from the cover page), and references. Images in a text count for 200 words each. Girlhood Studies, following Berghahn’s preferred house style, uses a modified Chicago Style. Please refer to the Style Guide on the website.

Guest Editors
Natalie Coulter is currently an Assistant Professor at York University in the department of Communication Studies. Her research interests are in girls’ studies, critical advertising studies, children’s media, and consumer culture. She has published in Canadian Journal of Communication, Journal of Children and Media, Popular Communication, and Jeunesse. She is a founding member of the Association for Research on the Cultures of Young People (ARCYP). Melanie Kennedy is currently a Lecturer in Media and Communication at the University of Leicester. Her research is rooted in feminist media and cultural studies, and her interests include tweens and tween culture, postfeminist film and television, neoliberal reality television, and young female celebrity. She is the book reviews editor for the Routledge journal Celebrity Studies.