American Girl, the Business of Self-Expression, and the Future of Nostalgia

Justine Orlovsky-Schnitzler (University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill)

American Girl dolls have been a childhood staple since 1986. While the dolls have always demanded financial privilege, the broader world of AG online play, flagship stores, and book series have provided many avenues for engagement and consumption. In recent years, sales have declined while much of AG’s original offerings are experiencing an online renaissance, particularly among those who originally engaged with them in the early aughts. This ecosystem represents mythologizing and storytelling in its own right. This panel will examine nostalgia for early-aughts girlhood culture and the future of AG as a vehicle for self-expression. Ultimately, we argue that American Girl represents a significant cultural step toward personal legend development for millennials.

Part of 06-03 Children's Folklore [hybrid], Friday, October 14, 2:30 pm–4:30 pm