ENG32640 Girlhood in 21stC American YA

Academic Year 2023/2024

What does it mean to be a girl in the twenty-first century? To answer this question, this course will explore conceptualisations of girlhood across a range of Young Adult (YA) fiction published in the United States between 2008 and 2021, including Jennifer Mathieu’s Moxie, Brittney Morris’ SLAY, and Meredith Russo’s If I Was Your Girl. Taking an interdisciplinary and intersectional approach, each week of the course examines a different facet of contemporary girlhood, such as: idealised girlhood, fairytale girlhood, fat girlhood, trans girlhood, Black girlhood, disabled girlhood, and girlhood and (post)feminism. Through exploring YA, popular, and critical texts, students will develop a greater understanding of girlhood in contemporary American culture.

This course is schedule for face-to-face delivery but may be shifted online in the interests of public health

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Curricular information is subject to change

Learning Outcomes:

On successful completion of the module students should be able to:
• Compare the treatment of girlhood – and its intersecting themes – across YA texts.
• Demonstrate ability to discuss complex ideas both in class and in written assignments.
• Identify and engage in key critical and theoretical contexts.
• Apply such contexts to analysis of the texts under discussion.
• Perform close-reading of texts leading to nuanced analysis.
• Complete an extended essay on a topic related to the course.

Indicative Module Content:

Week 1: What is YA? What is Girlhood?
Week 2: Idealised Girlhood I
Week 3: Idealised Girlhood II
Week 4: Fairytale Girlhood, Reimagined
Week 5: ‘Beautiful’ Girlhood
Week 6: Trans Girlhood
Week 7: Fat Girlhood
Week 8: Disabled Girlhood
Week 9: Black Girlhood
Week 10: Girlhood and (Post)Feminism

Student Effort Hours: 
Student Effort Type Hours
Specified Learning Activities


Autonomous Student Learning






Approaches to Teaching and Learning:
This module will pair YA texts with critical scholarship, media texts, and texts from popular culture. Seminars will open with a short lecture introducing key terms and contexts, followed by a series of discussion-based activities. These may include:
• Discussion questions
• Student-led discussions
• Close reading exercises
• Annotation exercises
• Brief in-class writing assignments 
Requirements, Exclusions and Recommendations

Not applicable to this module.

Module Requisites and Incompatibles
Not applicable to this module.
Assessment Strategy  
Description Timing Open Book Exam Component Scale Must Pass Component % of Final Grade In Module Component Repeat Offered
Assignment: Essay Proposal Varies over the Trimester n/a Standard conversion grade scale 40% No


Assignment: Midterm Essay Varies over the Trimester n/a Standard conversion grade scale 40% No


Essay: End of Semester Essay of 3000 words Coursework (End of Trimester) n/a Standard conversion grade scale 40% No



Carry forward of passed components
Resit In Terminal Exam
Autumn No
Please see Student Jargon Buster for more information about remediation types and timing. 
Feedback Strategy/Strategies

• Feedback individually to students, on an activity or draft prior to summative assessment
• Feedback individually to students, post-assessment

How will my Feedback be Delivered?

Not yet recorded.

John Green, Paper Towns (2008).
Paper Towns, dir. Jake Schreier (2015, available on Netflix).
Marissa Meyer, Cinder (2012).
Dhonielle Clayton, The Belles (2018)
Meredith Russo, If I Was Your Girl (2016).
Crystal Maldonado, Fat Chance, Charlie Vega (2021).
Whitney Gardner, You’re Welcome, Universe (2017).
Brittney Morris, SLAY (2019)
Jennifer Mathieu, Moxie (2015)
Name Role
Jennifer Gouck Lecturer / Co-Lecturer
Assoc Professor Clare Hayes-Brady Lecturer / Co-Lecturer