CFP: “Nevertheless, she persisted”: Girls, Literature for Girls, and the Politics of Persistence Studies

Special issue of Women’s Studies

In 2017, Mitch McConnell explained his silencing of Senator Elizabeth Warren by stating, “She had appeared to violate the rule. She was warned. She was given an explanation. Nevertheless, she persisted.”

“Nevertheless, she persisted” has become a feminist rallying cry, but literary girls have been expected to be persistent long before McConnell made this phrase famous. Indeed, persistence has been applied to innumerable heroines of girls’ literature, from Jo March to Anne Shirley, Cassie Logan, Starr Carter, and Katniss Everdeen. Characters such as these persevere in the face of hardship and oppression, accomplishing the impossible while challenging familial and societal norms. In so doing, they have created a specific narrative for readers: if a girl character persists, she can do anything, and thus, so can real life girls.

This special issue of Women’s Studies examines persistence in girls’ literature by questioning the narrative that girls are expected to persist. Are girls ever allowed to give up?  What emotional labour is associated with persistence? We seek papers from a global audience of scholars that draw on current Girlhood Studies and children’s literature scholarship to examine the ongoing theme of girlhood persistence. Topics may include:

  • girls’ persistence in lesser-known texts
  • persistence by Othered protagonists (including racialized girlhoods, sexualized girlhoods, trans or fluid girlhoods, and/or girls with disabilities)
  • the context of real-life girl readers and real-life girl writers
  • historical contextualization of persistent girls in children’s or young adult literature
  • persistent girls and political movements, such as civil rights, climate change, gender equity, LGBTQ2S+ rights, and disability rights among others
  • biographies of persistent girlhoods

Deadlines: Please submit abstracts of 500 words and a brief biography by June 1, 2021 to Amanda Allen ( and Miranda Green-Barteet ( Articles of 6,500 words will be due on Nov. 1, 2021. This special issue of Women’s Studies is slated for publication in late-2022.