British imperialism and the reproduction of femininity in girls’ fiction, 1900–1930
in Imperialism and juvenile literature
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The ideology of British imperialism is commonly defined in terms also culturally associated with masculinity. The function of imperialism in the cultural reproduction of femininity, reconciling greater freedom and fitness for girls with their continued subordination to the patriarchal order, is one of the underpinnings. The character of Guide literature under Agnes Baden-Powell's superintendance is very clear. The early issues of The Girl Guides' Gazette are as taken up with imperialism as The Girls' Empire. Post-war Guiding fiction elaborates the narratives that carry out the three-sided negotiation between femininity, 'masculine' outdoor/militaristic pursuits, and the girls' desire for freedom and self-determination. A century of writing for girls had established the norm of the domestic tale. In which, the trials of the heroine were involved with the learning of discipline, the internalisation of the feminine values of self-abnegation, obedience and subordination.


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