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Growing Up Female in Fiction and Film

What follows is a two-part discussion of female coming-of-age/growing up in 
fiction and (to a lesser extent) in film.  Part 1 took place on WMST-L in 
October/November 1993, Part 2 in December 1997.  See also the related file
Women's Autobiography .  For additional WMST-L files now available on the
Web, see the WMST-L File List. 

Date: Wed, 27 Oct 1993 16:16:43 -0500
From: Sandra K Herzan-2 <herz0001 @ GOLD.TC.UMN.EDU>
Subject: Coming of Age
Greetings list subscribers!
There's lots of interesting dialogue taking place in the ether, but I'd
like to introduce more questions nevertheless.
I'm in the process of writing a dissertation about contemporary American
women novelists and autobiographers who examine and portray female coming
of age in their work.  I have a couple of questions for all of you related
to my work.
First, I'm curious to know your favorites in terms of female coming of age
stories, in any period, but especially later 20th century.  These can be
personal favorites, works that you have enjoyed teaching, works that
challenge "the tradition" (we could talk more about that too), or
favorites for other reasons.
Secondly, I'm always interested in resources related to my topic.  I'm
most familiar with sources related to literary study (primary or critical
and theoretical texts) and would appreciate suggestions in any related
disciplines that you think would be relevant.  For instance, Psychology,
History, Film, Sociology, American Studies, Child Development, etc.
Thanks for your input, in advance.
Sandy Herzan
English Department
University of Minnesota
herz0001  @  gold.tc.umn.edu
Date: Thu, 28 Oct 1993 08:26:52 -0500
From: Caroline Brettell <cbrettel @ SUN.CIS.SMU.EDU>
Subject: Re: Coming of Age
From Anthropology, two good texts are "Nisa" by Marjorie Shostak and
"Becoming a Woman in rural Black Culture" by Molly C. Dougherty. Of course
there is also a literature on "coming of age" rituals--a classic is Audrey
Richards' study of the Bemba.
Date: Thu, 28 Oct 1993 12:56:39 CDT
From: Bob Bender <ENGBOB @ MIZZOU1.BITNET>
Subject: Re: Coming of Age
Coming of age novels, off the top of my head:
Ntzoke Shange, Betsey Brown
Rita Mae Brown, Ruby Fruit Jungle
Paule Marshall, Brown Girl, Brownstone
Toni Morrison, Sula (also The Bluest Eye)
Marge Piercy, Braided Lives
Margaret Atwood, The Eddible Woman
Julia Alvarez, How the Garcis Girls Learned English
Bob Bender, engbob  @  mizzou1
Date: Thu, 28 Oct 1993 19:38:00 -0700
From: Wendy Burton <burton @ FVC.BC.CA>
Subject: Re: Coming of Age
*Housekeeping* by Marilynne Robinson.  This novel is particularly effective
because it avoids the "necessity" that coming of age has to mean sexual
enlightenment (or lack thereof, which is how it is usually, and alas for
us, realistically portrayed).
Date: Fri, 29 Oct 1993 11:08:28 EDT
From: Delese Wear <dw @ UHURA.NEOUCOM.EDU>
Subject: Re: Coming of Age
i just finished a book called LITERARY ANATOMIES (out sometime in 1994,
published by SUNY)--here are some "coming of age" stories and poems
we found:
Toni Cade Bambara's "A Girl's Story" in THE SEA BIRDS ARE STILL ALIVE
Marge Piercy's "Something to Look Forward To" in AVAILABLE LIGHT
Ellen Bass's "First Menstruation" in ON SEPARATENESS AND MERGING
and the WONDERFUL story by Cynthia Zelman in FEMINIST STUDIES 17(3):
461-67 (1991).
these are all first period stories/poems, which of course do not
represent all there is to be said about coming of age...
delese wear
northeastern ohio universities college of medicine
p.o. box 95
rootstown oh 44272
dw  @  uhura.neoucom.edu
Date: Fri, 29 Oct 1993 13:31:54 -0400
From: Elizabeth Tobin <etobin @ ABACUS.BATES.EDU>
Subject: coming of age
For those interested in the coming-of-age books, I'd like to suggest Night
Flying Woman: An Ojibway Narrative, by Ignatia Broker.  While the book
covers much more than coming of age, it also describes childhood,
adolescence and development of one Ojibway woman and it is a wonderful story.
Liz Tobin
etobin  @  abacus.bates.edu
Date: Fri, 29 Oct 1993 14:25:55 EDT
From: Rosa Maria Pegueros <PEGUEROS @ URIACC.URI.EDU>
Subject: Coming of age stories
For the record, since no one has offered it yet, the story that had the
most impact on me as a teenager was Maya Angelou's "I Know Why the Caged
Bird Sings".
Rosa Maria Pegueros
Date: Fri, 29 Oct 1993 14:37:30 -0500
From: barbara dibernard <bjd @ UNLINFO.UNL.EDU>
Subject: Re: Coming of Age
Some coming of age stories I like and I like to teach--Audre Lorde's
Zami, first and always; Tillie Olsen's Yonnondio (my reading of it is
as a kind of female "portrait of theartist" where because of her
gender Maizie does not get to be the artist she could have become);
Edith Summers Kelley's Weeds (another thwarted artist); Jamaica
Kincaid's Annie John; Miles Franklin's My Brilliant Career.  An
interesting "coming of age" in terms of political awareness is Terry
Tempest Williams' Refuge.  And how about Nancy Mairs' Remembering the
Bone House?  I'm interested too in works that don't fit the
traditional patterns.  Let me know how your work is going.
Barbara DiBernard
Women's Studies
Uiversity of Nebraska
Lincoln, NE  68588-0333
bjd  @  unlinfo.unl.edu
Date: Fri, 29 Oct 1993 16:52:14 -0400
From: Mollie Whalen <womst @ ESU.EDU>
Subject: Re: Coming of Age
I think its How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accent by Julia Alvarez.
Mollie Whalen, womst  @  esu.edu
On Thu, 28 Oct 1993, Bob Bender wrote:
> Coming of age novels, off the top of my head:
> Julia Alvarez, How the Garcis Girls Learned English
Date: Fri, 29 Oct 1993 18:30:40 -0400
Subject: Re: Coming of Age
Diary of Anne Frank
Date: Sat, 30 Oct 1993 11:28:58 -0600
From: "Michelle D. Holland" <mihollan @ NMSU.EDU>
Subject: Re: coming of age
How about Mrs. Stevens Hears the Mermaids Singing, by May Sarton?  Short,
beautifully written, (like poetry!).  I used it in a ninth grade
aesthetics seminar for a unit exploring how artists become artists. On a
more sophisticated level, Jeannette Winterson's novel, Oranges are not the
Only Fruit is a funny, witty, convoluted look at one girls growing up in an
evangelical family, discovering she is lesbian, and all the strange and
wonderful consequences.
Date: Sat, 30 Oct 1993 17:36:43 -0700
Subject: Re: Coming of Age
I do hope there will be a posting of the Coming of Age lit list!  It's
fascinating.  My contribution:
    Mundane's World, by Judy Grahn
    INcidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, Harriet Jacobs
montgome  @  sonoma.edu
Date: Sun, 31 Oct 1993 15:09:26 -0500
From: Elizabeth Tobin <etobin @ ABACUS.BATES.EDU>
Subject: Re: Coming of Age
The suggestion of The Diary of Anne Frank as a coming of age book caused
me to think about another coming of age story from the Holocaust: Seed of
Sarah, by Judith Isaacson.  She was a teenager when the Nazis took over
Hungary and she "came of age" in more ways than one in the Nazi labor
camps.  I recommend the book highly.
Liz Tobin
etobin  @  abacus.bates.edu
Date: Sun, 31 Oct 1993 14:50:02 -0700
From: "Constant Creativity,
              Perpetual Exhaustion" <JRYCENGA  @  POMONA.CLAREMONT.EDU>

Subject: Re: Coming of Age
Apologies if this has been mentioned before in this thread, but I have had good
success with Nawal el-Sa'adawi's _Two Women in One_.  This concerns a young
woman who is an Egyptian medical student, coming to terms with her creativity,
sexuality, and politics.
A similar novel, but dealing with an older woman (ca. 25), is Meena Alexander's
_Nampally Road_.  Here the female protagonist is a young Indian professor,
returning from the UK to face the realities of teaching in a post/colonial
India.  I feel that it illustrates the full maturation of the multiple
identities of women.
I've been enjoying this thread; thanks to all!
Jennifer Rycenga
jrycenga  @  pomona.claremont.edu
Date: Sun, 31 Oct 1993 22:08:04 -0500
Subject: coming of age
My Brilliant Career was made into a Judy Davis movie directed by
Gillian Armstrong.  Also, how about Jane Campion's Angel Round My
Carol Fleisher Kent
Georgetown University
Kent  @  guvax
Date: Mon, 1 Nov 1993 00:22:01 -0500
From: arabella the arthropod <misc079 @ CSC.CANTERBURY.AC.NZ>
Subject: Re: coming of age
>My Brilliant Career was made into a Judy Davis movie directed by
>Gillian Armstrong.  Also, how about Jane Campion's Angel Round My
>Carol Fleisher Kent
It's "An Angel At My Table" based on the three part autobiography of
Janet Frame, a New Zealand writer. The books are: 'To The Is-land',
'An Angel At My Table' and 'An Envoy to Mirror City'.
d.boyask  @  csc.canterbury.ac.nz
Date: Mon, 1 Nov 1993 19:57:28 +1300
From: Raewyn Whyte <Raewyn.Whyte @ VUW.AC.NZ>
Subject: Re: coming of age
To continue the list of down-under coming-of-age movies, you
should add Vincent ward's VIGIL, which includes CofA of girl/
child.  (Oh, and it's An Angel*At* My Table)... you might
also see possibilities in The Piano, in that the girl/child
definitely learns about adult male propensities in ways that
enlarge her worldview...
Raewyn (in new Zealand)
Date: Mon, 1 Nov 1993 07:27:03 -0500
From: Leslie Bender <lbender @ MAILBOX.SYR.EDU>
Subject: Re: Coming of Age
I can't remember the exact tenor of the request for "coming of age" books,
whether we were looking for female only or not, but I am now reading Paul
Monette's "Becoming a Man" and would recommend it for that genre.
Leslie Bender   lbender  @  mailbox.syr.edu
Date: Mon, 1 Nov 1993 10:20:10 -0500
Subject: Re: coming of age
an oldie, I Remember Momma
Date: Thu, 4 Nov 1993 09:38:18 -0500
Subject: coming of age
there's the classics: Little Women
Heidi series
Anne of Green Gables series
Little House series
Pollyanna series
Date: Tue, 9 Nov 1993 18:40:59 -0600
From: Sandra K Herzan-2 <herz0001 @ GOLD.TC.UMN.EDU>
Subject: Female Coming of Age Narratives
Many of you have asked that I post the compiliation of female coming of
age stories I've received from list respondents.  Following is a list
(certainly not exhaustive) of female coming of age narratives, primarily
20th century North American.  I've included relevant citations that list
subscribers sent me in addition to some of my own ideas.  I've also
included a brief list of critical or theoretical works connected to the
literature.  Many of you had comments or questions in addition to
forwarding "favorites" or other citations to me.  I will be responding to
many of you privately soon.  If you want to continue private (or
list-wide) conversations about this topic, my work on this literatuer or
the attached list please do so.
In addition I'll be proposing a panel on "Rewriting the Bildungsroman:
Contemporary Revisions" for the Midwest Modern Language Association
conference to be held in Chicago in November 94.  If you're interested in
proposing a paper as part of the panel I'd be happy to send you further
details about my prposed panel topic.  I'll also propose a panel
tentatively titled "Writing Home:  Women Writing about House and Home" for
the same conference, and I welcome your response or paper ideas for this
as well.  I need to send in the proposal by Nov 15 but finalized panel
details, with paper titles, topics, discussants, etc. aren't due until
January.  You can rply to me privately at the address at the end of this
COMING OF AGE NARRATIVES BY WOMEN (only a selected list)
Dorothy Allison.  Bastard out of Carolina.
Julia Alvarez.  How the Garcia Girls Lost their Accent.
Angelou, Maya.  I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.
Margaret Atwood.  Cat's Eye.  Lady Oracle.
Ignatia Broker.  Night Flying Woman:  An Ogibway Narrative.
Rita Mae Brown.  Rubyfruit Jungle.
Maria Campbell.  Halfbreed.
Willa Cather.  Shadows on the Rock.  Song of the Lark.
Joan Chase.  During the Reign of the Queen of Persia.
Kim Chernin.  In My Mother's House.
Sandra Cisneros.  The House on Mango Street
Thulani Davis.  1959
Annie Dillard.  An American Childhood.
Louise Erdrich.  Love Medicine.
Sylvia Fraser.  My Father's House.
Judy Grahn.  Mundane's World.
Rosa Guy.  Ruby.  The Friends.  Edith Jackson.
Zora Neale Hurston.  Their Eyes were Watching God.
Alice Kaplan.  French Lessons.
Edith Summers Kelley.  Weeds.
Jamaica Kincaid.  Annie John.  Lucy.
Maxine Hong Kingston.  The Woman Warrior.
Margaret Laurence.  A Bird in the House.  The Diviners
Harper Lee.  To Kill a Mockingbird.
Ella Leffland.  Rumors of Peace.
Audre Lorde.  Zami.
Nancy Mairs.  Remembering the Bone House.
Paule Marshall.  Brown Girl, Brownstones.
Mary McCarthy.  Memories of a Catholic Girlhood.
Carson McCullers.  The Member of the Wedding.
Louise Meriwether.  Daddy Was a Numbers Runner.
Anne Moody.  Coming of Age in Mississippi.
Toni Morrison.  Beloved.  The Bluest Eye.  Sula
Alice Munro.  Lives of Girls and Women.
Eileen Myles.  1969
Marge Piercy.  Braided Lives.
Marilynne Robinson.  Housekeeping.
May Sarton.  Mrs. Stevens Hears the Mermaids Singing.
Ntozake Shange.  Betsey Brown.  Sassafrass, Cyprus and Indigo.
Alice Walker.  The Color Purple
Edith Wharton.  Summer
Jeannette Winterson.  Oranges are Not the Only Fruit.
Some critical/theoretical works.
Abel, Elizabeth, Marianne Hirsch, and Elizabeth Langland.  The Voyage In:
    Fictions of Female Development.
Bonnie Hoover Braendlin.  "Bildung in Ethnic Women Writers."  Denver Q 17
    (1983):  75-87.
Jerome Buckley.  Seasons of Youth:  The Bildungsroman from Dickens to Golding.
Carol Christ.  Diving Deep and Surfacing:  Women Writers on Spiritual Quest.
Katherine Dalsimer.  Female Adolescence:  Psychoanalytic Reflections on
Mary Jean DeMarr and Jane Bakerman.  The Adolescent in the American Novel
    since 1960.
Joanne Frye.  Living Stories, Telling Lives:  Women and the Novel in
    Contemporary Experience.
Dana Heller.  The Feminization of Quest-romance:  Radical Departures.
Marianne Hirsch.  The Mother/Daughter Plot:  Narrative, Psychoanalysis,
Barbara Keller.  Woman's Journey Toward Self and its Literary Exploration.
Annis Pratt.  Archetypal Patterns in Women's Fiction.
Barbara White.  Growing Up Female:  Adolexcent Girlhood in American Fiction.
Gabriele Wittke.  Female Initiation in the American Novel.
Sandy Herzan
Department of English
University of Minnesota
207 Lind Hall
207 Church Street SE
Minneapolis, MN  55455
herz0001  @  gold.tc.umn.edu

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