Dr. Rosoff’s Book on Fiction, Femininity, and Friendship Among 2020’s Best

By Caitlin Burns | December 1, 2020

By Nikolai Kachuyevski ’21

A book on school and college fiction for girls in Britain and the United States between 1910 and 1960 co-authored by Dr. Nancy Rosoff, dean of Undergraduate and Graduate Studies and a colleague at the University of Winchester, was awarded the History Education Society’s 2020 Anne Bloomfield Prize for the best book written in English on the History of Education. 

British and American School Stories, 1910-1960: Fiction, Femininity, and Friendship (Palgrave Macmillan, 2019), co-authored with Dr. Stephanie Spencer, professor of the History of Women’s Education, explores the formation and ideologies of feminine identity through the analysis of fiction.

“We argue that these books were an important source of informal education for young girls and shaped their gender ideology,” said Dr. Rosoff. “These books wouldn’t have been assigned in classrooms, but they’d be available in libraries for girls to read. Many were given as gifts or prizes to young readers.” 

In their commendation, the History Education Society noted that the book “was well researched, very engaging, and would appeal to a wide audience. The book brings together an impressive range of theoretical perspectives to create a meaningful framework of engagement. The authors engage head-on with the difficulties of the relationship between ‘fiction’ and ‘reality… . The book is a strong addition to the field of History of Education, but also contributes to a wider range of other historical fields, as well as crossing some important interdisciplinary boundaries, especially in relation to literary studies.”