Keely Savoie of Mount Holyoke College reports on a literary genre I was unfamiliar with:
It was once inconceivable: girls and young women pursuing higher education away from home, where they lived in dorms with one another, apart from their families.
But after Mary Lyon founded Mount Holyoke Seminary in 1837 as the first of the Seven Sisters schools, higher education for women gained a foothold in American culture. Soon after, a new literary genre was spawned: “college girl fiction.”
“In the early twentieth century, it was suddenly possible for more women to go to college, so it became common enough that you could actually write books about it—and young girls would buy them,” explained Leslie Fields, head of Archives and Special Collections at Mount Holyoke.
Four display cases containing the College Girl Fiction exhibit will be in Dwight Hall through February 15. Each case, individually curated by a different student assistant in Archives and Special Collections, depicts an aspect of the popular imaginings of the lives of college women living away from home.
One of the cases focuses on Doris, A Mount Holyoke Girl: “The 1913 book is a first-person narrative of a fictional student who attended Mount Holyoke College from 1846 to 1847.” Another is on college girl pulp fiction. If you’re in the area, check out the exhibit; I always enjoy this sort of thing.