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Nancy Drew and the Syndication of White Savior Feminism

By Kirsten Ginzky

Relatable-yet-superhuman, Nancy Drew has been an enduring cultural icon, debuting in 1930 and starring in hundreds of books along with films, television series, and video games. When I was introduced to Nancy in 1998, I devoured every volume of the yellow-spined mystery series that I could get my hands on. The heroine is a spunky, prodigious girl detective who solves hundreds of cases, succeeding when lawmen cannot. Nancy is sarcastic, confident, and an ace at evading the many criminals who tail her powder blue Mustang convertible during high-speed chases. In the early 20th century, the Nancy Drew series was lauded as presenting “an amazing alternative to the career choice of secretary and milliner that other children’s books provided” (Paretsky, 1991, p. 9). The syndication of the ‘Nancy Drew’ archetype created a significant blueprint for modern American girl and womanhood – one that helped inspire a model of empowered womanhood that dominates 20th and 21st century American life with a Who’s Who of public figures including Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonya Sotomayor, Oprah Winfrey, Hillary Clinton, Diane Sawyer, Laura Bush, Barbara Walters, Nancy Pelosi, and Sandra Day O’Connor (Murphy, 2009; Shipman & Rucci, 2009) citing her as an inspiration. Viewing Nancy with an intersectional lens complicates this narrative: aspirational, independent, but never rebellious, Nancy Drew is a thoroughly modern product, created through a fine-tuned capitalist production and distribution model. Her actions and beliefs reflect both traditional middle-class values and the expanding role of American youth and women in the wake of the Progressive Era. The books affirm WASP superiority and the original editions, revised in the 60s, are rife with racial stereotypes. A contemporary reader could easily dismiss Nancy Drew as an upper-middle-class ‘white savior.’

The Lit Review: No Justice, No Pride

The Praxis Center is proud to feature The Lit Review’s weekly interviews conducted by hosts Monica Trinidad and Page May. Every week, the hosts of The Lit Review chat with people they love and respect about relevant books on Black struggle, movement history, gender, cultural organizing, speculative fiction, political theory and more. Sparked by the urgency of November 2016, they recognized that political study is not accessible to many for a variety of reasons, and their hope is that his will make critical knowledge more accessible to the masses.

Passing Strange: Racial Crossings and the Construction of Identity in America.

In this class we will interrogate narratives of racial passing in a variety of forms. These narratives raise questions about the construction, reinforcement and subversion of racial categories. There is a rich trove of literature focused on passing within African American literature alongside many examples in the 20th century of narratives focused on ethnic masquerade and cultural assimilation.  In essence, if individuals can undetectably pass through social boundaries meant to keep them out, then the very act of passing calls into question the nature both of the boundaries and of the categories they delineate.  This course uses the paradigm of “passing” to examine notions of race (as well as gender, sexuality and class)to illustrate how those categories are produced. Using fiction, history and film we will endeavor to get a deeper understanding of the category we call race. Read more here.

Junot Diaz: Literature is The Closest Thing To Telepathy

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AScHOAnAf7o “One of the functions that art has is not only is art didactic. Art can be in many ways persuasive or seductive. But art is also transgressive and the transgressive function of art is fundamental in a society that often shies away from the difficult topics, the difficult subjects and the difficult conversations it needs to engage in. We all live in societies that repress and silence what’s troubling, what’s naughty, what’s sort of in some ways I think threatening. But art has this way of provoking. Art has this way of imposing these silences, breaking these silences and posing these conversations on us. And I think it’s absolutely important that we as a society think in ways that we often don’t imagine subjects that we often sort of shy away from and enter silences that we’re not often encouraged to do so. Because in these silences in what’s…

Representations of HIV/AIDS

This class is meant to facilitate an interdisciplinary conversation of the representation of HIV/AIDS in many different media sources: science writing, journalism, visual art, literature, drama, and popular culture. At the core of this class is the organizing question: what does it mean to put the perspectives of the scientist and the literary critic in conversation when discussing these widely varied representations of HIV/AIDS? What is at stake for the scientist or for the literary critic in these different depictions of HIV/AIDS? What is the science behind cultural depictions of HIV/AIDS, and why is it important that we think about it? What are the social and interpretive meanings behind the representation of HIV/AIDS, and why/how are these relevant for both the scientist and critic? Ultimately, this course is meant to remind its participants that the personal and political of necessity intersects with the scientific—and that scientists and critics can learn…

US Latino Literature

The objective of this course is to analyze contemporary U.S. Latino drama, fiction and poetry within their cultural and historical context. Among the possible readings: Popular Latino Fiction, Latino Poetry as protest, code switching, the Nuyorican movement and other Latino landscapes. Dr. Melero University of Wisconsin Whitewater View Syllabus

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