Date of Award

Spring 2020

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



Committee Chair

Dr. Eric Tribunella

Committee Chair School


Committee Member 2

Dr. Craig Carey

Committee Member 2 School


Committee Member 3

Dr. Luis Iglesias

Committee Member 3 School


Committee Member 4

Dr. Ellen Weinauer

Committee Member 4 School



Scholarship on the history of print culture has largely overlooked the influence of fairy tales on the Early American literary marketplace. While fairy tales such as the works of Charles Perrault rose to popularity in the late eighteenth century in America, at the turn of the nineteenth century, publishers increasingly created their own versions of these popular fairy tales. I focus on the evolution of fairy tales in American culture by examining the print history of Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood, Tom Thumb, and Jack and the Beanstalk from 1776 to 1863, particularly focusing on chapbook versions of the tale. Chapbooks are small, cheap popular books that, due to their price, were more accessible to more people. In my study, I argue that booksellers, printers, and publishers change the framework for these tales and the personalities of the protagonists to fit multiple versions of boyhood, girlhood, and citizenship in America. I also argue that these chapbook versions are important cultural artifacts that reveal the tensions between freedom and conformity in defining the ideal American citizen and the ideal American childhood.

These recreations of popular fairy tales act as useful tools for examining the evolving views of the American citizenship and the ideal American child precisely because the tales do not originate in America. They illustrate how Americans both embraced and rebelled against foreign influences when attempting to create a distinctly American culture. By emphasizing the importance of ephemeral media in my study, I call for more critical attention on these less canonically literary works. These fairy tale books may appear to be disposable literature, but their mass-market appeal makes their reach far more widespread than other, more expensive forms of literature.


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