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Title: Retelling Grimm girlhood : representations of girlhood in the contemporary fairy tale film adaptation cycle
Author: Grobben, Karen Ann
ISNI:       0000 0004 5992 2966
Awarding Body: University of Exeter
Current Institution: University of Exeter
Date of Award: 2016
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Working within the filmic fairy tale adaptation cycle that emerged between 2005 and 2015, this thesis investigates how girlhood is cinematically constructed through the lens of fantasy, in relation to gendered representation in media. The relationship between femininity and fairy tales is well-established. By reading contemporary filmic adaptations of the tales, the thesis deconstructs gendered myth-making and reveals the extent to which fairy tale imagery and plot continue to inform cultural constructions of girlhood. It argues that by centring upon young female protagonists and often targeting a young female audience, this cycle constitutes a newly emerging young woman’s cinema. In doing so, the thesis relates the contemporary fairy tale adaptation cycle back to gendered histories of media and genres traditionally associated with female audiences (such as the Female Gothic, the Melodrama, the Costume Drama and so on). The thesis analyses their similar narrative strategies of using iconographical objects, haunted spaces and evocative settings. The cycle’s cultural denigration is critiqued for its association with mainstream and primarily female audiences. The act of adapting fairy tales to construct girlhood through fantasy thus necessitates exploring the ideological implications of gendered genres, their narrative strategies as well as complex processes of adaptation, from tale to screen. How these films, by centralising girlhood, explore female fantasies and desires, trauma, gendered violence and coming of age, is explored throughout. The thesis argues that a highly specific mode of girlhood comes to the fore in this cycle, within particular cultural (social, racial and narrative) parameters. This mode of fairy tale girlhood is imperilled, spectacular and exclusionary, generating disturbing implications of how young women are represented and addressed in popular media. As in women’s films of previous eras in film history, however, the fairy tale adaptation cycle both reinforces and challenges the rigid parameters in which girlhood is cinematically imagined.
Supervisor: Hanson, Helen Sponsor: Arts and Humanities Research Council
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: gender ; girlhood ; cinema ; adaptation ; fantasy ; fairy tales ; female adolescence ; media ; genre