Date of Award

Spring 2017

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts

Major

American Studies

First Advisor

Jack Gieseking

Second Advisor

Cheryl Greenberg

Abstract

This thesis examines the contributions that American Girl dolls make to the development of girlhood, as well as doll and toy culture. I argue that the BeForever collection of historically centered dolls both informs consumers of United States history while instructing them of what it means to be a wholesome, virtuous girl. American Girl provides timeless stories about overcoming hardship in various periods of U.S. history while utilizing common themes in children’s literature to construct an attractive narrative. These dolls and their stories contribute to consumers’ understanding of girlhood, their sense of self, and broad comprehension of history. Recent developments within the company to diversify the BeForever collection of dolls points to a shift in the historical narrative consumers want to engage with.

Comments

Senior thesis completed at Trinity College, Hartford Connecticut for the degree of Bachelor of Arts in American Studies.