Author(s)Farmer, Victoria Reynolds
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AbstractThis dissertation examines the portrayal of autonomous girlhood in five young-adult (YA) novels that appropriate Shakespearean plots for twenty-first-century girl audiences: Caryl Cude Mullin's Rough Magic (2009), Lisa Klein's Lady Macbeth's Daughter and Ophelia (2009 and 2008), Lisa Fiedler's Romeo's Ex: Rosaline's Story (2006), and Mirjam Pressler's Shylock's Daughter (2001). It postulates that these novels are the postfeminist extension of a much earlier subgeneric trend--that of mass-produced, affordable Victorian-era didactic Shakespeares, the central purpose of which is to use Shakespeare's cultural capital in order to transmit messages regarding the nature of appropriate girlhood. This dissertation argues that that some analogously available and affordable YA novel adaptations of the twenty-first century, despite being postcolonial and postfeminist and therefore reacting against the squeaky-clean, traditional norms of their predecessors, put forward gender roles that are just as restrictive. Each chapter will cover one of Shakespeare's plays, a corresponding YA novel adaptation, and a related issue in contemporary American girl culture and/or feminist theory. The ultimate goals of such a transhistorical analysis are first: to determine what type(s) of girlhood the novels put forth as valid and why, and second: to evaluate the novels' brand(s) of didacticism in terms of what it offers to its target audience of adolescent girls. Overall, this dissertation argues that successful YA Shakespeares for girls should exhibit nuanced characterization and developed female community, ideally one that results in intergenerational feminisms.