My Most Prized Possession, an American Obsession. Virginity and the Sexual Politics of the American Teen Film.

Björn Sonnenberg-Schrank


American "teen films" and TV series can be regarded as mass consumer
culture's version of literature's "bildungsroman". Their main trope is
the adolescent individual's search for identity and independence,
narrated via the personal and social initiation associated with a
coming-of-age experience, often ignited and/or epitomized by a sexual
initiation, most commonly in the form of virginity loss. Thus, many
teen films are negotiations of purity, chastity, and virginity—with
quite mixed messages.
With recourses to Jean Paul Sartre, Barrington Moore Jr., Michel
Foucault, Sigmund Freud, Laura M. Carpenter and others, this paper
addresses how the transitional in-between state of adolescence is
evaluated in American (popular) culture, the sexual politics of many
of these narratives, and their agency in reflecting as well as shaping
adolescent sexual identities.

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