Student Research Profile: McKenna Princing

McKenna Princing
McKenna Princing, BA 2013
Student Research Profile: McKenna Princing

Fairy tales have their origins in folklore, usually the kinds of “old wives’ tales” that were primarily told and circulated by women. In the Victorian era, retellings of those tales became popularized by the likes of the Grimm brothers and Andrew Lang, and for decades Disney princess movies have been embedded in popular U.S. culture. Fairy tales, then, are historically associated with ideals of femininity, yet they usually do women a disservice by portraying them in stereotypical ways that conform to female gender norms.

Because of their being naturalized in U.S. culture, however, fairy tales can be reclaimed to challenge the female gender norms they traditionally espouse. My research examines this dynamic between pop culture, women, and fairy tales, looks at some recent examples of feminist female characters in fairy tale retellings — from Gail Carson Levine’s award-winning novel Ella Enchanted, to the currently popular ABC television show Once Upon A Time — and argues that reclaiming fairy tales is essential to the ongoing women’s rights movement, and that fairy tales therefore ought to be taken more seriously within the academic community as powerful agents of social change.

BA in English: Language and Literature, 2013
Cum Laude
UW English Department Honors

Honors & Awards:

  • Society of Professional Journalists' Regional Mark of Excellence Award 2013