Feminism in novels marketed for young adults often reflects the values of a popular feminism that relies on individual and personal means of empowerment, rather than critiquing or seeking to dismantle systems of domination. In this paper, we illumminate frameworks and methods for engaging students in careful readings and evaluations of texts marketed as feminist, through an analysis of Elana Arnold’s feminist fairy tale, Damsel (2018). Drawing on theoretical frameworks of popular feminism, feral feminism, and theories of becoming, the authors use Critical Content Anlaysis to explore several tenets in contemporary feminist thought in order to analyze Arnold’s text and its themes of empowerment and liberation, domestication and ferality, and the discursive and material conditions of becoming. The authors argue that complex understandings of feminist frameworks can move readers toward more robust critique of the various forms of feminism that can be found in young adult literature, and suggest that this novel offers pathways for interrogating complex feminist scripts in young adult literature.
Published in International Journal of Young Adult Literature, Fall 2022.
© The Authors, 2022. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (unless otherwise stated) which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Spiering, J., & Amato, N. (2022). “Nothing to do but be borne and steered”: Unpacking feminist scripts in Elana Arnold’s Damsel. The International Journal of Young Adult Literature, 3(1), Article 1. https://doi.org/10.24877/IJYAL.76