Conceptions of Girlhood Now and Then: Girls’ Literature and Beyond

We invite submissions for a special Barnboken theme for articles discussing girls’ literature from a variety of perspectives. Both “girl” and “girlhood” are complex concepts that can be defined and problematized in various ways, for example through the ongoing discussions within the research field Girlhood Studies.

The history of comprehensive analysis of girls’ literature is an established study area in Nordic scholarship. Nordic scholars have explored girls’ literature and coming-of-age stories in Swedish-language texts as well as in translated texts (see, for example, Birgitta Theander 2006, 2017, Marika Andræ 2001, Mia Österlund 2005, 2017). Similar types of studies are available within an international context (see, for example, Claudia Mitchell & Jacqueline Reid-Walsh 2005, Joe Sutcliff Sanders 2011, Nazera Sadiq Wright 2016). The concept of “flickbok,” which roughly translates into “girls’ book,” is a specific label with a defined set of characteristics within a Swedish-language context, but these books have gone through several metamorphoses and in children’s literature of today, the “girls’ book” can be many different things.

We welcome articles on conceptions of girlhood in historical and contemporary texts. This might include what it means to be a girl in specific texts or as demonstrated by particular fictional girls; how girlhood is constructed in different texts; how we define classic texts for girls, and the ways in which those definitions change over time. Articles could also examine shifting definitions of gender and how it is performed in texts defined as girls’ literature, the ways in which texts respond to social issues of girls and girlhood, and how coming-of-age stories address girls and girlhood in a specific time and place. The development of girls’ literature and the girl characters’ relationship to their environment makes it relevant to discuss this literature in new ways and within a wide range of theoretical and interdisciplinary approaches.

Possible approaches, concepts, and areas of investigation may include, but are not limited to:

  • Different perspectives on and definitions of girls, girlhood, and girls’ literature.
  • Adaptations, revisions, and translations of classic girls’ books.
  • LGBTQ+ and intersectional approaches.
  • Readings exploring different kinds of norms at play in the books, such as body norms and aetonormativity.
  • Readings that intersect girlhood studies with other theoretical approaches, such as animal studies or ecocriticism.

Deadline, abstracts: 18 January 2021             

Please send a 300-word proposal to The following information should be included: The title of the article, the name of the writer, affiliation, and e-mail address.                           

Deadline, articles: 27 August 2021

The articles will be published in 2022. The maximum length for the contributions is 40,000 characters. Articles submitted for consideration may not have been previously published in any other context.

Texts are sent via e-mail to or via the login system on Barnboken’s website. For further information on submission details, see Author Guidelines.

Guest editors of this theme are Malin Alkestrand (Associate Senior Lecturer, Linnæus University, and Maria Nilson (Senior Lecturer, Linnæus University,

The editorial committee consists of Editor Åsa Warnqvist (Research Manager, The Swedish Institute for Children’s Books, Sweden), and Assistant Editors Maria Jönsson (Associate Professor, Umeå University, Sweden), Anne Skaret (Professor, University of Applied Sciences, Norway), Olle Widhe (Associate Professor, University of Gothenburg, Sweden), and Mia Österlund (Associate Professor, Åbo Akademi University, Finland). The journal’s international Advisory Board includes 15 prominent Swedish, Nordic, and international scholars.

Barnboken: Journal of Children’s Literature Research is published by the Swedish Institute for Children’s Books. All articles accepted have been peer reviewed by at least two peers and will be published online under an Open Access model. The main language of the journal is Swedish, but articles written in Danish, Norwegian and English are also welcome. We are especially interested in contributions related to Sweden or the Nordic countries. Barnboken is published with financial support from the Swedish Research Council (Vetenskapsrådet), and since a few years back the journal is also awarded annual support from NOS/HS.

For more information, please contact:

Åsa Warnqvist
The Swedish Institute for Children’s Books
Odengatan 61
SE-113 22 Stockholm

Phone: + 46 8 54 54 20 65.