Comics for Girls? A Study of Shojo and American Girlhood Culture
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American entertainment often presents heroines who still conform to the confining stereotypes of passivity, docility, sexual objectification, and ultimate dependence on the hero, offering patriarchal narratives in popular culture. This thesis investigates American girlhood entertainment - a subset of popular culture - in comparison to the newly popular genre of Japanese comics, shojo manga, which also targets a girl audience. By focusing on gender issues - power distribution, agency, and gender roles - and utilizing a mixed methodology of rhetorical and quantitative analysis, my research explores the rhetorical devices and narrative structures that empower or constrain heroines, structure power distributions, and assign gender roles. To better understand shojo's recent popularity among teenage girls, this research provides 1) a close critical analysis of shojo texts to examine the messages and rhetorical devices featured in these narratives, and 2) an analysis of audience reception through a participant survey and an analysis of audience-generated message boards. This research participates in Girlhood Studies, Intercultural Studies, and Narrative Criticism as I analyze narratives that target an American girl audience and enact entertainment globalization. My analysis suggests that shojo develops from feminist motives, encourages a pro-feminist reality, and successfully markets itself to an audience of American girls, who form parasocial relationships and wishfully identify with the heroines because of their empowered characteristics and the portrayal of equality within romantic relationships.
Kornfield, Sarah (2009). Comics for Girls? A Study of Shojo and American Girlhood Culture. Master's thesis, Texas A&M University. Available electronically from