Tricksters, witches, and warriors: a feminist experiment in rewriting a patriarchal narrative in children’s fantasy literature

Dulemba, Elizabeth O. (2021) Tricksters, witches, and warriors: a feminist experiment in rewriting a patriarchal narrative in children’s fantasy literature. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

Due to Embargo and/or Third Party Copyright restrictions, this thesis is not available in this service.


In this thesis, I identify and analyze mechanisms of patriarchal bias in children’s fantasy literature primarily through the lens of under-represented female tricksters, examining existing literature to reveal ideologies and semiotics that reinforce patriarchal normativity according to limited archetypal representation. Through this study, three insights became clear. First, there are few identified female tricksters in various world mythologies; however, when applying trickster characteristics to mythological archetypes, it becomes evident that there are plenty of female tricksters who are identified by another label: “witch.” I examine the impact this negative stereotype plays on feminine representation of otherwise beloved tricksters, especially within children’s literature. Second, I describe ongoing efforts to unweave patriarchal biases in so-called feminist texts via the trickster archetype, pointing out a common overcorrection through the use of women warriors— women who are stronger and more powerful than men within their patriarchal environments, who create unrealistic expectations for female agency. Third, I point out that by placing women warriors within hegemonic systems, these stories reinforce patriarchal normativity rather than mitigate the suppositions of male superiority, as intended. Therefore, this paper aims to bring new perspective to the negative tropes we employ in our writings for children’s fantasy and suggest the use of more appropriately labeled and embodied female tricksters to help unweave embedded patriarchal biases. I also conduct an experiment to employ my theories by example in the craft application portion of my study—a feminist fantasy novel called Two Lies and a Truth.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Additional Information: Due to copyright issues this thesis is not available for viewing. An edited version will be uploaded and made available once any embargo issues have expired.
Keywords: tricksters, witches, warriors, children’s literature, fantasy, patriarchy, feminism, feminist studies, writing experiment, mythology, archetypes, goddesses, folktales, fairy tales, The Three Golden Hairs.
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General)
Colleges/Schools: College of Social Sciences > School of Education
Supervisor's Name: Farrell, Dr. Maureen and Davis, Prof. Robert and Maslen, Dr. Rob
Date of Award: 2021
Embargo Date: 8 June 2024
Depositing User: Enlighten Team
Unique ID: glathesis:2021-82269
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 10 Jun 2021 15:21
Last Modified: 19 Aug 2022 15:59
Thesis DOI: 10.5525/gla.thesis.82269

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