Access Type

Open Access Dissertation

Date of Award

January 2016

Degree Type


Degree Name



Classical and Modern Languages, Literatures, and Cultures

First Advisor

Donald Haase


This dissertation is an analysis of fairy tales by German women in late eighteenth and nineteenth century. Although hundreds of women published fairy tales in Germany in the nineteenth century, they remain absent from current scholarship. Recent work by scholars Shawn Jarvis and Jeannine Blackwell have brought these fairy tales back into print, but there remains very little critical work on them. This dissertation takes the focus of retellings of the Kind and Unkind Girls tale type, also known as “Frau Holle.” At first glance, the women’s variants depict modest, passive, and hardworking Kind Girls who are very similar to those found in misogynistic traditional variants by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm and Charles Perrault. When one begins to look for a logic behind their patriarchal morals, however, they are strangely contradictory, a symptom of what Susan Lancer and Joan Radner call implicit coding in women’s folklore. In addition, these coded critiques fit into specific gendered discourses of the nineteenth century, such as pedagogy for women and girls, scientific theories of gender difference, and the role of women workers in society. These women writers utilized fairy tales as a vehicle for entering into these controversial discourses while still publishing under the respectable guise of fairy tale writing.