Electronic Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Ph.D. in English

First Advisor

Annette Trefzer

Second Advisor

Leigh Anne Duck

Third Advisor

Jaime Harker

Relational Format



This dissertation examines the use of fairy-tale allusions to explore masculinity in four novels published during the Cold War period. This notable focus on men and masculinity held in common across these four novels from four different decades is interesting because it suggests that the shift in focus to women and feminist ideals in fairy-tale revisions of the 1970s and after is even more stark a shift than has yet been recognized by scholars. This dissertation finds that Eudora Welty’s novella The Robber Bridegroom (1942), Vladimir Nabokov’s novel Lolita (1955), Donald Barthelme’s novel Snow White (1967), and Ross Macdonald’s novel Sleeping Beauty (1973) all subvert a reader’s expectations of one or more character types drawn from traditional fairy tales, in some cases going so far as to invent an entirely new character type. These new and different character types each show the difficulty in performing Cold War gender norms, which aim to divide gender roles into the strict binaries of “hard” and “soft.”



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