Performing Girlhoods and Girlhood Performances

A Curated Panel proposed by Heather Fitzsimmons Frey (University of Toronto) and Marlis Schweitzer (York University)

Girlhood performances are profoundly significant for communities: they are the focus of moral panics, fairy tale heroines, schoolyard behaviours, not to mention staged dramas. Catherine Driscoll writes that the way people see girls is a barometer for how they see the future, but also how they understand their present and their past. Girl communities however, can operate in ways that support or counter the larger community in which they exist. Ideas about girls colour the way that artists make work; ways artistic work is received and consumed, and ways that girls choose to perform their lives on a daily basis. This panel will present research concerning how culturally and socially constructed ideas about girls and girl communities influence, shape, and inform our research, research agendas, and ways our research is received; it is also interested in how the way we understand girlhood performances is connected to how we understand community.

This seminar invites participants to share ways that their own research concerning performing girlhoods and girlhood performances, in contemporary or historical contexts, in Canada or elsewhere, relates to the theme of community. Topics may include (but are not limited to):

• Young female artists in the performance industry
• Girl cliques, girl clubs, and girl spaces
• Girl communities and girlhood cultural production
• Creating and staging girl characters
• Performing girlhood identities
• Trans, bi, queer and/or virtual girls’ communities
• Girl focused events: girls’ sports, dance, beauty contests
• Applied theatre projects or qualitative research with girls
• Girlhood diaries

In the form of a 20 minute paper we invite participants to discuss their research regarding intersections between girlhood, performance and communities.

Interested participants are asked to submit a 250 – 300 word abstract of their proposed paper topic and a short bio to: Heather Fitzsimmons Frey ( and Marlis Schweitzer ( by January 15, 2016. The area of research is not restricted to a particular time or place. Explorations of the challenges related to girlhood and any area of dance, drama, theatre and performance studies, whether amateur or professional, are welcome.