Reviews of Princess Cultures, edited by Miriam Forman-Brunell and Rebecca Hains

American Journal of Play: Review of Princess Cultures: Mediating Girls’ Identities and Imaginations,” Emily R. Aguiló-Pérez, Spring 2016

The [Princess Cultures] collection draws on a wide range of sources and approaches to explore the main topic. While some of the contributors work with texts—films, dolls, books—about princesses, others discuss the interactions girls have with the culture of princesses. By doing this, the authors provide a voice to girls, often quoting extensively while keeping their own views as the researchers to a minimum. This approach to highlight girls’ voices aligns with the primary goals of girlhood studies.

An important aspect of this book is that it provides different ranges for what constitutes a “girl,” especially according to her cultural context. For instance, in her chapter about princess culture in Qatar, Kristen Pike employs the term “girl” even though her participants were between eighteen and twenty-four years old because in Arab countries the term “woman” refers to married females. In this context, “girl” expands meaning of the term beyond its common use in Western scholarly works about girls. Pike’s use of “girl” provides an example of the fluidity of the term “girl” around the world.

[…] Forman-Brunell and Hains have created a rich collection of essays that significantly contribute to the growing literature that examines girls’ popular cultures. Princess Cultures is the first scholarly collection to discuss the princess from a wide range of perspectives. In so doing, Princess Cultures adds to the growing literature that examines girls’ lives, cultures, and the way they mediate their identity through popular artifacts and popular constructions of girlhood. Play scholars interested in the ways in which girls mediate their identities through their play with princess dolls will also find much to consider here. Academics from a wide range of disciplines, including play scholars, as well as general readers interested in childhood, girlhood, or the princess will enjoy it.

MEDIENwissenschaft [Media Science]: Review of Miriam Forman-Brunell, Rebecca C. Hains (Hg. [Eds.]): Princess Cultures: Mediating Girls’ Imaginations and Identities, Man-Nihn Chung, 2017. Excerpts translated from the original German:

Stories and fairy tales about princesses — real and fictional — accompany the growing up of children and adolescents not only since Disney. The so-called ‘princess culture’ is a controversial topic — with discussion often focused upon whether it has a negative or positive effect on the development of young girls. The historian Miriam Forman-Brunell and the communications scholar Rebecca C. Hains investigate exactly this question in the preamble to Princess Cultures: Mediating Girls’ Imaginations and Identities. But rather than giving an exhaustive answer to this difficult topic, they present the princess culture phenomenon from various perspectives and approaches. The authors who contributed to the book come from fields such as media studies, communications science, history, and literary studies. Through this interdisciplinary approach to the topic, new and interesting perspectives are revealed.

[In Princess Cultures], consistently pleasant writing styles and comprehensible formulations with few technical terms facilitate an understanding of the work’s fundamental statements. Some essays include interview excerpts that are well integrated into the text and do not disturb the flow of the writing. […] The collected work will tend to appeal to media scientists, communication scientists and students of gender studies, but it is also suitable for those interested in other subjects, since no prior knowledge is required. The chapters’ examples and interviews are very understandable and explained in detail […]. Princess Cultures provides a helpful overview with links to other disciplines, and in the end, readers will feel well-informed and sufficiently equipped to form their own opinions about princess culture.


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