Paper Dolls

Fragile Figures, Enduring Symbols


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About the Book

Paper dolls might seem the height of simplicity—quaint but simple toys, nothing more. But through the centuries paper figures have reflected religious and political beliefs, notions of woman­hood, motherhood and family, the dictates of fashion, approaches to education, individual self-image and self-esteem, and ideas about death. This book examines paper dolls and their symbolism—from icons made by priests in ancient China to printable Kim Kardashians on the Internet—to show how these ephemeral objects have an enduring and sometimes surprising presence in history and culture.

About the Author(s)

Katherine H. Adams is a professor emerita of the Department of English at Loyola University New Orleans.

Michael L. Keene is a professor emeritus of English at the University of Tennessee Knoxville.

Bibliographic Details

Katherine H. Adams and Michael L. Keene
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 240
Bibliographic Info: 63 photos (22 in color), notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2017
pISBN: 978-1-4766-6968-7
eISBN: 978-1-4766-2939-1
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments vi
Introduction 1
1. Paper Power Begins 5
2. Political Satire and Change 14
3. Paper Characters and the Creativity of Toy Theatres 31
4. ­Paper-Doll Books: The Movable Voyage of Education 53
5. The Myth of the American Family 77
6. Fashion Paper Dolls: The True Woman’s “Evil Twin” 102
7. Transformation and the Celebrity Paper Doll 119
Between pages 128 and 129 are 12 color plates containing 22 photographs
8. Paper Doll as Symbol: Vulnerability and Medical Care 129
9. Paper Doll as Symbol: The Male Desire for the Not Real 133
10. Paper Doll as Symbol in Feminist Films and Novels 140
11. Paper Doll as Symbol: For the Young Adult Audience 150
12. Paper Doll as Symbol: LGBTQ Culture 154
13. The Paper Figure in the ­Twenty-First Century 158
Conclusion 179
Chapter Notes 183
Bibliography 199
Index 215

Book Reviews & Awards

  • “An original and seminal work of truly impressive and informative scholarship…unique…unreservedly recommended”—Midwest Book Review
  • “A serious deep dive into how paper dolls have been used to convey a wide range of messages through history, from the personal to the political. Many fascinating stories…richly illustrated…. This is a book to enjoy at your leisure. Dip in at any point, and you’re bound to learn something new—and to look at your beloved paper dolls in a new light.”—Paperdoll Review.