Historicize This! Contextualism in Youth Media Studies

  • Mary Celeste Kearney
Part of the Studies in Childhood and Youth book series (SCY)


This chapter is part of a larger project I am undertaking to rebrand my academic identity and work. Rather than describe myself as a media and cultural studies scholar, I have decided to label my research as that of a media and cultural historian. Why? Primarily, I want to improve the accessibility of my scholarship for the public. Time and again when I tell non-academics that I study ‘media’, they jump to the conclusion that I mean the news. ‘No, no,’ I say. ‘I study girls’ media.’ ‘Ohhhh,’ they respond, struggling to understand. ‘You mean like Twilight?’ This, in fact, is not the type of girls’ media l typically analyse; my speciality is girls’ media production, which, when announced, usually elicits blank stares, given the prevalent idea that female youth engage with media only as consumers. What is most intriguing to me about these interactions, however, is that the examples of girls’ media offered at this point in these conversations are always current. Before Twilight, common guesses as to my objects of study were Hannah Montana, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and Clueless, among the most popular texts within girls’ media since I began research in this area. No one has ever assumed that some of the texts I analyse might have been made before 1995.


Cultural Study Media Culture Popular Culture Historical Work Female Youth 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. D’Acci, J. (2005). Cultural studies, television studies, and the crisis in the humanities. In L. Spigel and J. Olsson (eds). Television after TV: Essays on a medium in transition (pp. 418–45). Durham: Duke University Press.Google Scholar
  2. Dyer, R. (1979). Stars. London: BFI.Google Scholar
  3. Foucault, M. (1977). Nietzsche, genealogy history. In D. F. Bouchard (ed.). Language, counter-memory, practice (pp. 139–64). Ithaca: Cornell University Press.Google Scholar
  4. Gramsci, A. (1971). Selections from the prison notebooks. New York: International Publishers.Google Scholar
  5. Greer, J. (2011). Remixing Educational History: Girls and Their Memory Albums, 1913–1929. In M.C. Kearney (ed.) Mediated girlhoods. New York: Peter Lang.Google Scholar
  6. Grossberg, L. (2010). Cultural studies in the future tense. Durham: Duke University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Hall, S. (1980a). Cultural studies: Two paradigms. Media, Culture and Society2(1), 57–72.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. — (1980b). Encoding/decoding. In S. Hall, D. Hobson, A. Lowe, and P. Willis (eds). Culture, media, language: Working papers in cultural studies (1972–1979) (pp. 128–38). London: Hutchinson.Google Scholar
  9. Hebdige, D. (1979). Subculture: The meaning of style. London: Methuen.Google Scholar
  10. Hunter, J. (1992). Inscribing the self in the heart of the family: Diaries and girlhood in late-Victorian America. American Quarterly44(1), 51–81.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Johnson, R. (1986–87). What is cultural studies anyway? Social Text16, 38–80.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Kearney, M. C. (1998). Producing girls: Rethinking the study of female youth culture. In S. A. Inness (ed.). Delinquents and debutantes: Twentieth-century American girls’ cultures (pp. 285–310). New York: New York University Press.Google Scholar
  13. — (2004). Recycling Judy and Corliss: Transmedia exploitation and the first teen-girl production trend. Feminist Media Studies4(3), 265–95.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. — (2005). Birds on the wire: Troping teenage girlhood through telephony in mid-twentieth-century US media culture. Cultural Studies19(5), 568–600.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. — (2006). Girls make media. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  16. — (2007). Productive spaces: Girls’ bedrooms as sites of cultural production. Journal of Children and Media1(2), 126–41.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. — (2008). New directions: Girl-centered media studies for the 21st century. Journal of Children and Media2(1), 82–3.Google Scholar
  18. — (ed.) (2011). Mediated girlhoods: New explorations of girls’ media culture. New York: Peter Lang.Google Scholar
  19. Lessig, L. (2008). Remix: Making art and commerce thrive in the hybrid economy. New York: Penguin.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Marvin, C. (1988). When old technologies were new: Thinking about electric communication in the late nineteenth century. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  21. McRobbie, A. and J. Garber (1976). Girls and subcultures. In S. Hall and T. Jefferson (eds). Resistance through rituals: Youth subcultures in post-war Britain (pp. 209–22). London: Harper Collins.Google Scholar
  22. Mecklenburg-Faenger, A. L. (2007). Scissors, paste, and social change: The rhetoric of scrapbooks of women’s organizations, 1875–1930. Ph.D. diss. Ohio State University.Google Scholar
  23. Pickering, M. (2008). Engaging with history. In M. Pickering (ed.). Research methods for cultural studies (pp. 198–213). Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.Google Scholar
  24. Piepmeier, A. (2009). Girl zines: Making media, doing feminism. New York: New York University Press.Google Scholar
  25. Schrum, K. (2004). Some wore bobby sox: The emergence of teenage girls’ culture, 1920–1945. New York: Palgrave.Google Scholar
  26. Slack, J. D. (1996). The theory and method of articulation in cultural studies. In D. Morley and K. Chen (eds). Stuart Hall: Critical dialogues (pp. 112–27). New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  27. Turner. G. (1990). British cultural studies: An introduction. Boston: Unwin Hyman.Google Scholar
  28. — (2003). British cultural studies: An introduction, 3rd ed. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  29. Vickery, J. (2010). Blogrings as virtual communities for adolescent girls. In S. R. Mazzarella (ed.). Girl wide web 2.0: Revising girls, the Internet, and the negotiation of identity (pp. 183–200) New York: Peter LangGoogle Scholar
  30. Williams, R. (1958). Culture is ordinary. In N. Mackenzie (ed.). Conviction (pp. 74–92). London: MacGibbon and Kee.Google Scholar
  31. — (1965). The Long Revolution. Middlesex: Penguin Books.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Mary Celeste Kearney 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mary Celeste Kearney

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations