A new international discipline is emerging with the launch of Girlhood Studies: An Interdisciplinary Journal, says Claudia Mitchell, a professor in the department of education at McGill University. Dr. Mitchell is one of the journal’s founders, along with her late colleague Jackie Kirk and Pennsylvania State University professor Jacqueline Reid Walsh.
A peer-reviewed journal published twice a year, Girlhood Studies focuses on various themes, including education, access to health and gender-based violence. “What cuts across a lot of the work are the voices of girls themselves,” says Dr. Mitchell.
The journal’s first issue was published in November 2008 and the second in January 2009. While it is currently available in print only, Dr. Mitchell says it will eventually go online and, she hopes, will be open-access.
With the birth of the journal also came an enormous tragedy. Co-creator Dr. Kirk was shot and killed in Afghanistan last August in a Taliban ambush while working for the International Rescue Committee, just as the first issue was going to press. A memorial issue of the journal is now underway, says Dr. Mitchell. “It has a very strong agenda of looking at girls in fragile states and post-conflict zones,” she says of the issue, a reflection of Dr. Kirk’s passion and activism.
It was at a conference that focused on girlhood studies in London in 2001 where the three academics first realized what an important emerging field this was, says Dr. Mitchell. But it wasn’t until 2006 when they finally had the time to put a proposal together. The existence of Thymos: Journal of Boyhood Studies helped to spur the trio into action. “It was sort of like, how can there be a journal of boyhood studies and not a journal of girlhood studies?” says Dr. Mitchell.
Colleague Dr. Reid-Walsh teaches a course in girlhood studies at Pennsylvania State University as a branch of women’s studies, and Dr. Mitchell would like to see more courses like that in Canada. “I think people are seeing it as an emerging area that will have its own academic home either in education, cultural studies or women’s studies.”