Research Areas

Girls’ school-based peer cultures, adolescent femininity, critical literacy for youth

Research Activities

‘The Classroom Use of Youth Film as a Venue for Critical Social Literacy’ Dawn H. Currie (2010-)

The purpose of this study is to explore how youth-oriented film is implicated in young people’s understandings of themselves and their relations with others. Despite the ubiquity of entertainment culture in the everyday lives of youth, and widespread recognition that it operates to both constrain and enable their identity practices, its classroom use remains under-explored. This study will deepen our theoretical understanding of youth’s negotiations with commercial entertainment in their everyday practices of “becoming someone.” This understanding will be used to explore how popular culture can be used in the classroom. As argued by Giroux (2007: 196), education is a site in which students learn the knowledge and skills to distinguish between “identities founded on democratic principles and identities steeped in forms of competitive, unbridled individualism that celebrate self-interest.” Such ability requires “critical social literacy” (Davies 1997) as a set of complex cognitive-emotional capacities that can impact positively on young people’s identity practices.

This study builds upon previous research by the applicants in audience studies (Currie 1994, 1997, 1999, 2000, 2003), girls’ identity practices (Currie, Kelly and Pomerantz 2009), and critical media education (Kelly 2006, FC; Stack and Kelly 2006). It will be of interest to teachers and other educational professionals. At the same time, it will contribute to the training of graduate assistants as both future researchers and teachers committed to promoting social justice by preparing pupils for responsible citizenship in a multicultural society.

‘Girl Power: A study of adolescent decision-making and the empowerment of women’ Dawn H. Currie and Deirdre M. Kelly (2000-2004)

This three-year SSHRCC-funded project explores the everyday experiences of ‘being a girl.’ The context for this ‘being’ is school-based peer cultures – a context mediated, on the one hand, by adult concern about the way girls are ‘growing up too fast’ and, on the other, by mass media that woos girls with commercialized femininity. Qualitative data generation explores how girls themselves experience these kinds of contradictory positionings as they actively construct their sense of ‘who they are’ and ‘who they might become.’ While attention is paid to dynamics that reconstitute competitive hierarchies among girls – contributing to girls’ ‘relational aggression’ – interest is directed to those girls who are able to ‘go against’ these dynamics in order to maintain a sense of autonomy over their identity projects.

This project raises questions about the ’empowerment’ of girls as a practical rather than theoretical challenge and allowed us to develop an innovative approach to critical discourse analysis that will be elaborated in our next study. A book-length manuscript is under contract with Peter Lang. Several journal articles and book chapters have been published based on the findings from this study.

‘Enhancing Capacity to Engender Research for Sustainable Development in Viet Nam’ Huguette Dagenais (Laval University), Do Thi Binh (Institute of Anthropology, Hanoi) and Dawn H. Currie (1999-2001, 2002-2004, 2005-2008)

This multi-stage research-related project, funded by IDRC, is in Phase III. Previous phases of capacity-building entailed training of 15 Vietnamese researchers in gender-sensitive, qualitative research. During the first stage researchers researchers carried out small-scale individual projects under the tutorship of the applicants; during the second stage three interdisciplinary teams carried out larger collaborative projects. The three reports from these latter projects are being prepared for dissemination in English; Dagenais and Currie act as editors for these research reports but they do not claim authorship of any of the published work on this project. The purpose of Phase III is to ensure sustainability of the training through curriculum development to be used in Viet Nam. Currie participates in this project as: lecturer, research tutor, and editor. This project will be completed during 2008, although work on publications will likely continue into 2009.

‘Femininity as Popular Discourse: Adolescents and Fashion’ Dawn H. Currie (1992-1996)

This SSHRCC-funded project explored the reception of commercial fashion and beauty magazines by their intended audience – adolescent girls. The significance of this study is found in its context: while both academic and popular debate surrounded the impact of commercial media on youth, there was a tendency for adults – parents and researchers alike — to ‘speculate’ on this impact through their own reading of the texts. This study thus offered one of the first empirical studies of girls’ reading of glossy magazines that emphasize beauty, fashion and romance as routes to social acceptability for young women. While it provided ample evidence of the potentially negative effect of these media, it raised questions about girls’ resistance to such messages and thus led to the collaborative ‘Girl Power’ project by the applicants. This project resulted in Girl Talk: Adolescent Magazines and Their Readers as well as a number of journal articles and book chapters.

Books

2009 Dawn H. Currie, Deirdre M. Kelly and Shauna Pomerantz. Girl Power: Girls Reinventing Girlhood. New York: Peter Lang

1999 Dawn H. Currie. Girl Talk: Adolescent Magazines and Their Readers. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 362 pages.

1998 Dawn H. Currie, Noga Gayle and Penny Gurstein (eds.) Learning to Write: Women’s Studies in Development. Vancouver: Collective Press, 192 pages.

Journal Publications

Guest Editor with Sunera Thobani (Women’s Studies, University of British Columbia) “Global and Local Asian Connections” A Special Issue of Gender, Technology and Development Vol. 7, No 2 (Fall) 2003

Dawn H. Currie and Sunera Thobani, “From Modernization to Globalization: Challenges and Opportunities,” Vol. 7, No 2: 149-170

Journal Articles

2007 Dawn H. Currie, Deirdre M. Kelly and Shauna Pomerantz. “Listening to girls: Discursive positioning and the construction of self,” International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education Vol. 20, No. 4: 377-400

2006 Dawn H. Currie, Deirdre M. Kelly and Shauna Pomerantz. “‘The geeks shall inherit the earth’: Girls’ Agency, Subjectivity and Empowerment.” Journal of Youth Studies Vol. 9, No. 4: 419-436

2007 Dawn H. Currie, Deirdre M. Kelly and Shauna Pomerantz. “The power to squash people: Understanding girls’ relational aggression,” British Journal of Sociology of Education Vol. 28, No. 1: 23-37

2006 Deirdre M. Kelly, Shauna Pomerantz and Dawn H. Currie. ‘”No Boundaries?” Girls’ Interactive, Online Learning about Femininities,” Youth and Society Vol. 38, No. 1: 3-28

2005 Shauna Pomerantz, Deirdre Kelly and Dawn H. Currie. “Sk8er Girls: Skateboarders, girlhood and feminism in motion,” Women’s Studies International Forum, Vol. 27, Nos. 5-6: 549-560

2005 Deirdre M. Kelly, Shauna Pomerantz and Dawn H. Currie. “Skater Girlhood and Emphasized Femininity: ‘You can’t land an ollie properly in heels,'” Gender and Education, Vol. 17, No. 3: 229-248

2003 Dawn H. Currie and Sara Wiesenberg. “Promoting Women’s Health-Seeking Behaviour: Research and the Empowerment of Women,” Health Care for Women International, Vol. 24, No. 10: 880-899

2000 Dawn H. Currie. “Dear Abby: Advice pages as a site for the operation of power,” Feminist Theory Vol. 2, No. 3: 259-281

1998 Dawn H. Currie. “Gender Analysis from the Standpoint of Women: The Radical Potential of Women’s Studies in Development,” Asian Journal of Women’s Studies Vol. 5, No. 3: 99-144

1997 Dawn H. Currie and Anoja Wickramasinghe. “Engendering Development Theory from the Standpoint of Women,” Gender, Technology and Development Vol. 1, No 2: 247-276

1997 Currie, Dawn H. “Decoding Femininity: Advertisements and Their Teenage Readers,” Gender and Society Vol. 11, No 4: 454-478

Chapters in Books

“Sk8ter girls: Skateboarding, girlhood, and feminism on the move” in John J. Macionis, Nijole V. Benokraitis, Peter Urmetzer and Bruce Ravelli (eds) Seeing Ourselves: Classic, Contemporary, and Cross-cultural Readings in Sociology. Toronto: Pearson

2007 Deirdre M. Kelly, Shauna Pomerantz and Dawn H. Currie. “‘You can break so many more rules’: The identity play and work of becoming skater girls’ Pp. 113-126 in Michael D. Giardina and Michele R. Donnelly (eds.) Youth Cultures and Sport: Identity, power and politics. New York: Routledge

2007 Shauna Pomerantz, Deirdre Kelly and Dawn H. Currie. “Sk8er Girls: Skateboarders, girlhood and feminism in motion,” in Michael S. Kimmel (ed.) The Gendered Society Reader. Toronto: Oxford. REPRINT OF: “Sk8er Girls: Skateboarders, girlhood and feminism in motion,” Women’s Studies International Forum, Vol. 27, No 5-6: 549-560

2006 Dawn H. Currie and Deirdre M. Kelly. “Who am I?” Pp. 34-55 in George Pavlich and Myra Hird (eds.) Questioning Sociology: Canadian Perspectives. Don Mills: Oxford University Press

2006 Dawn H. Currie and Deirdre M. Kelly. ” ‘I’m going to crush you like a bug’: Understanding Girls’ Agency and Empowerment” in Yasmin Jiwani, Claudia Mitchell and Candis Steenbergen (eds.) Girlhood: Redefining the Limits, Montreal: Black Rose Press

2003 Dawn H. Currie. “Girl Talk: Adolescent Magazines and Their Readers,” Pp. 243-253 in Will Brooker and Deborah Jermyn (eds.) The Audience Studies Reader London: Routledge. REPRINT FROM Girl Talk: Adolescent Magazines and Their Readers

*1998 Dawn H. Currie, Noga Gayle and Trish Keays. “Equality, Development, and Peace: A Global Approach to Feminism and the Production of Women’s Studies,” Pp. 15-33 in D. H. Currie, N. Gayle and P. Gurstein (eds.) Learning to Write: Women’s Studies in Development, Vancouver: Collective Press

*1998 Dawn H. Currie and Anoja Wickramasinghe. “Engendering Development Theory From the Standpoint of Women,” Pp. 175-192 in D. H. Currie, N. Gayle and P. Gurstein (eds.) Learning to Write: Women’s Studies in Development, Vancouver: Collective Press REPRINT FROM Gender, Technology and Development

1998 Dawn H. Currie. “Violent Men or Violent Women? Whose Definition Counts?” Pp. 97-122 in Raquel Kennedy Bergen (ed.) Issues in Intimate Violence, Thousand Oaks: SAGE Publications

1997 Dawn H. Currie. “Violence Against Women: Confronting the Limits of Legal Solutions to Social Problems” Pp. 41-51 in George Rigakos and Kevyn Bonnycastle (eds.) Battered Women: Law, State and Contemporary Research in Canada, Collective Press, Vancouver

1997 Dawn H. Currie and Brian D. MacLean. “Measuring Violence Against Women: The Interview as a Gendered Social Encounter,” Pp. 157-178 in Martin Schwartz (ed.) Researching Sexual Violence Against Women, Thousand Oaks, California: Sage Publications, Inc.

1997 Dawn H. Currie and Anoja Wickramasinghe. “Thinking Critically about Critical Discourse: Women in the New World Order,” Pp. 56-66 in Brian D. MacLean and D. Milovanovich (eds.) Thinking Critically About Crime, Vancouver: Collective Press

Others

“Prostitution and Beyond: An Analysis of Sex Work in India”, Rohini Sahni, V. Kalyan DShankar and Hemant Apte(eds) New Delhi: Sage Publications, 2008 in Asian Journal of Women’s Studies 15(2): 117-121

“Enhancing Capacities to Engender Research for Sustainable development in Vietnam, 1999-2009” for IDRC by Huguette Dagenais, Do Thi Binh and Dawn Currie. 27pp.

Undergraduate Teaching Areas:

Women in Comparative Perspective (Anth/Soc 213)
Gender Relations (Anth/Soc 312)
Women’s Studies in the Social Sciences (WMST 322)
Qualitative Research Methods (Soc 382)
Feminist Theory (Soc 414)
An Advanced Research Seminar in Women’s Studies in the Social Sciences
(WMST 422)
Special Topics in Women’s Studies: Feminisms and Multiculturalism,
Co-taught with Y. Brown (WMST 425)

Graduate Teaching Areas:

Doctoral Research Seminar
Exploring the Social World: Feminist Issues in Fieldwork (WMST 502)
Contemporary Developments in Feminist Sociology (Soc 512)
Advanced Seminar in the Sociology of Knowledge (Soc 560)

Education

B. A. (Honours with High Honours) 1981
M.A. (Sociology) 1983, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, Canada.
Ph.D. Sociology (Women’s Studies, Sociology), 1988, The London School of Economics and Political Science, London, England.

Groups: