Vandergrift's Feminist Page

Special Interest Page

Research Page

Picture books

Patricia Polacco

Children's and young adult books

Feminist Websites

Empowering Girls

Feminist Readings

Women's History Readings

Snow White


In "A Feminist Research Agenda in Youth Literature," I raised the following questions : Why do we need a feminist perspective for research in this field? What new directions and insights might such a perspective provide? Has children's literature historically contained feminist sub-texts embedded in traditional male stories? If so, has this literature now fallen behind adult literature in creating and critiquing gender-fair and multicultural texts? Is literature for young adults more or less feminist than children's literature?

Approaches to reader-response criticism exist on a continuum from those emphasizing textual structures that direct and/or control readers to those in which readers control, shape, and use texts for their own ends. Feminist reader-response criticism focuses on women reading women's texts. Through this process a new understanding of female reading strategies and female texts will develop, and much could be learned by studying this process with young girls before they have been trained to subvert themselves and their meanings to those of authorized males. It is also important, from a feminist perspective, to investigate what others, male as well as female, who are outside the privileged white male norms bring to transactions with texts. How do race, class, ethnicity, sexual orientation, and personal life experiences influence reading strategies and the meanings brought to text? Again, research with children before they have learned to negate their own backgrounds and experiences might yield the most interesting data. Ultimately a feminist reader-response theory that empowers all readers represents a sociopolitical act that challenges established hierarchical power structures and authorized meanings.

Model of Female Voices in Youth Literature In my research I have developed a model that is now being tested with youth literature. I have completed an analysis of picture books and an analysis of the work of Patricia Polacco in relation to the model. I have added a new segment on children's and young adult books that help place women back into history.

Feminist Websites The sites included here are useful in exploring women's issues.

Empowering Girls is a site with the common recognition that gender is not an impediment to accomplishment.

Feminist Readings The highly selected bibliography is designed for exploring feminist and women's issues and for using theories and concepts as means to examine the questions raised above as well as for providing a feminist standpoint for our analysis of youth literature.

Women's Heritage "American Journey: Women in America" is a CD-Rom that contains documents, newspaper and magazine articles, letters, diaries, etc. Excellent source, works on IBM platform only. "Her Heritage" is a CD-ROM biographical encyclopedia of famous American women. Available from Pilgrim New Media, Inc. Cambridge, MA. This CD-ROM includes film footage in some instances but often does not have a picture of a biographee. Does work on Windows95 platform.

Women's History Readings A short listing of titles directly related to women's history. This list of titles should offer a good range of historical standpoints.

Snow White An opportunity to explore a large number of resources on traditional fairy tales and specifically "Snow White." It is designed as a course component and/or an individual tutorial.

Created September 14, 1995 and is continuously revised
SCILS, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey