Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Materialism in the American Girl Books

I'm in the midst of a massive project, which I think I've already mentioned in one of the very few posts in this poor, overlooked blog. Sorry about that.

The American Girl Collection is a marvel of the 1980s/1990s. It combined history, fun, and dolls - and reaped the fiscal benefits. In the last decade, as popularity has increased, so have criticisms of the material focus of the books. Fortunately for me, this gives me at least a bit of scholarly work to consider while working with the colonial-era books about Felicity.

While the project is much broader, I'm pondering the coral necklace. I know little about this small historical detail mentioned in both Meet Felicity and A Little Maid of Provincetown (by Alice Turner Curtis, 1913). The young heroine in each book sports a favorite necklace made of red coral, which I assume to be similar to the one pictured in this post.

Girls' culture Sherrie A. Inness lightly criticizes Pleasant Company for what may appear, to some, to be shameless marketing and advertising within the novels. Undoubtedly, their doll and accessory sales profit from the inclusion of such things like Felicity's necklace and other accessories in the books. However, the mark of a good children's historical fiction novel is the inclusion of those small details which help the reader to not only imagine the setting and characters vividly, but make connections between the book and their own life. Additionally, Curtis's little heroine also treasures her own coral necklace, and this comes with no seemingly subversive marketing schemes.

Anyway, I'm still puzzling through this for a mini-essay due in a few weeks, to my overseer/mentor professor. Just thought I'd puzzle it out a bit here, to prove to the blog and any nonexistent readers that I am, in fact, alive and writing.

Many thanks to the lovely website The Village Green Clothier, where I obtained the above photo of a coral bead reproduction necklace.