Androgynes, Amazons, Agenes: Transgender Studies and the College Girl, 1878 Molly K. Robey Illinois Wesleyan University n 1878, An American Girl and Her Four Years in a Boys’ College— the first I college novel written by an American woman— appeared in print. Published under the pen name SOLA by Olive San Louie Anderson, one of the University of Michigan’s first female graduates, An American Girl helped define the College Girl at the outset of a US movement in women’s higher education. As the novel’s title character, Wilhelmine “Will” Elliot, seeks educational, professional, and political equality with her male peers at the fictional University of Ortonville, she is described as “boyish” by her fellow students, who feel uncomfortable with the ways Will’s short hair, masculine clothes, and bold manner violate their expectations of femininity (84). Will finds herself described by the student newspaper as a monstrous “Megatherium Amazoniense,” a creature who, unless “domesticated,” will terrorize the campus with her physical strength and stature (102). Will’s classmate Guilford Randolph states, “I can’t bear her style. . . . why, I’m afraid of her: . . . she has such a way of aping boys” (84). Will is “the first girl,” Randolph declares, he “can’t
Legacy – University of Nebraska Press
Published: Jun 11, 2019
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