The Mundanity of Girlhood: Pleasure, Play, and the Everyday

deadline for submissions: 
February 4, 2024
full name / name of organization: 
The Girlhood Studies Collective

The Girlhood Studies Collective, in collaboration with the Department of Childhood Studies and the Gender Studies Program at Rutgers University-Camden, invite proposals for “The Mundanity of Girlhood,” a virtual symposium to be held April 4-6, 2024.


From Megan Thee Stallion coining “hot girl summer” in 2019, to the release of the internationally acclaimed film Barbie in 2023, the “girl” is trending across all social media platforms. From “girl walk,” “girl dinner,” and “girl economy,” to various “____ girl” aesthetics (e.g., “soft girl,” “VSCO girl,” “clean girl”), “girl” has become a playful attachment to the mundanity of the everyday. In a moment where seemingly everything can be “girl’d,” to much internet delight, the category is opening capacious spaces for pleasure and play, in ways that are deeply entangled with—and potentially resistant to—capitalism. What do these playful and pleasurable engagements with “girl” make possible for critically interrogating the boundaries of girlhood? And with what repercussions?


In The Black Girlhood Studies Collection, Aria Halliday highlights the “slippage” surrounding age-based conceptions of girlhood, as seen not only in harmful stereotypes conflating Black women and girls, but also in Black women’s colloquial and affirming appeals to each other as “girl.” As the boundaries of girlhood are policed in anti-Black, transphobic, ableist, and xenophobic rhetoric and policy discourse, we build on Halliday’s provocation to consider how the playful use of “girl” in everyday vernacular gestures toward the category’s elusive nature and expansive potential. This symposium takes this cultural moment as an invitation to consider how playful, everyday articulations of “girl” push the field of girlhood studies to critically reexamine how the “girl” comes into being. 


Some possible sites for engagement include: 


  • The politics of girls’ play and pleasure
  • Playful encounters in and with girls in the archive 
  • Literary, cultural, and mediated representations of girls, girlhoods, play, and pleasure
  • Girls in/on social media and digital spaces
  • Ethnographies of girls’ culture
  • Critical inquiries into “girl” as a category, label, or identity
  • Practices of girls’ playful and pleasurable resistance 
  • Girlhood’s playful semiotics, affects, and aesthetics


The second annual Girlhood Studies Collective symposium will be held virtually on April 4-6, 2024. The deadline for submissions is February 4th, 2024.


We invite paper submissions for 15-minute presentations. Submissions should include a title and 250-300 word abstract, along with the presenter’s name, affiliation, email, and a short bio (25-50 words).  Presentations on current or recent research, possible future projects, unfinished, and works-in-progress are welcome. We also welcome roundtable or panel proposals and ask that you include information for all panelists in one submission. 


Please submit required materials at by February 4th, 2024. All future symposium information, schedules, and announcements will be posted on that site. Notifications of acceptance are expected to be sent by February 25th, 2024. 


Registration will open in winter 2024. A nominal conference fee of $15 will be required with advance registration. Undergraduate students and youth under 18 may register for free. Please send any questions to