Date of Award

Spring 5-2023

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Justine Van Meter, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Joanna Levin, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Renee Hudson, Ph.D.


This thesis aims to contribute to the scholarship on young adult speculative fiction and its pivotal role in subverting the rigid gender roles that have been reinforced since the ancient world of fairy tales. To do so, I will explore Jeanne-Marie Leprince de Beaumont’s “Beauty and the Beast” through the lens of various feminist literary theories and overlapping discourses in gender studies. I intend to analyze and critique the ways in which this classic fairy tale has influenced the representation of the female as “Beauty” and the male as “Beast” in contemporary texts, especially in the YA speculative fiction genre. Most notably, I will focus on the YA fantasy duology, Six of Crows, by Leigh Bardugo. My research will examine the ways in which fairy tales, like “Beauty and the Beast,” have reinforced gender as a binary and how a subversion of these binary structures is crucial in expanding and improving our current views of gender and gender identities. I contend that by analyzing how Bardugo engages with various theoretical frameworks, we can move beyond mere accurate representations of femininity or masculinity, and instead, turn our attention to broadening society’s understanding of identity as a multifaceted, nuanced construct.

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

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