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"Old-Fashioned and Forward-Looking": Neo-Liberalism and Nostalgia in the Daring Books for Girls

Susanne Gannon, Marnina Gonick, Jo Lampert


In this paper, we examine The Daring Book for Girls and its follow-ups for their constructions of gender. We suggest that, as examples of how neo-liberalism finds its way into notions of proper girlhood, the books provide intentional and unintentional "lessons" to their readers in how to perform themselves in these times. In both the American and the Australian edition of the initial text, girls are instructed in complex ways to be the right kind of girl: enterprising with a do-it-yourself (DIY) attitude, tolerant of diversity, and nature-loving. Through the constructions of girls as "good citizens" by rules and strict boundaries, the books present to readers a highly nostalgic version of girlhood while simultaneously serving as a pedagogical manual for neo-liberal times.


neoliberalism; girlhood; young adult non-fiction

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