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Royal Subjects: Feminist Perspectives on Diary Writing and the Diary Form in Meg Cabot's The Princess Diaries Series
Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of English.
2016 (English)Independent thesis Advanced level (degree of Master (Two Years)), 20 credits / 30 HE creditsStudent thesis
Abstract [en]

Meg Cabot’s young adult (YA) novel series The Princess Diaries (2000-2009) is one of many modern-day examples of attempts to redefine what Western society considers the classic princess narrative: the story of a beautiful princess passively waiting for Prince Charming. As critics such as Kay Stone and Sarah Rothschild emphasize, the fictional princess is traditionally linked to notions of ideal femininity which, in turn, makes princess stories interesting texts from a feminist perspective. Rothschild notes a surge in YA princess novels in recent years, with YA writers such as Cabot aiming to challenge the traditional image of the princess as a passive feminine stereotype in their re-workings of the princess story.

Previous feminist research on The Princess Diaries series celebrates the main character Mia as a symbol of third wave feminism and as such, a positive role model for Cabot’s predominantly young, female readers. Mia’s characteristic Dr Martens boots are frequently cited as an example of how greatly Mia differs from her princess predecessors. However, these critics ignore important changes in Mia’s personality over the course of the series. By the end of the series, the Dr Martens-wearing heroine introduced in the first book has replaced her combat boots with high heels. In my thesis, I will argue that Mia’s transformation in terms of appearance and preoccupation with mainstream fashion, from quirky outsider to stereotype girly girl, complicates the idea of The Princess Diaries series as feminist texts.

Moreover, previous feminist research largely ignores diary writing’s prominent role in the series, and the ways in which the diary format influences the reader-narrator relationship in the novels. In my feminist reading of The Princess Diaries series, I therefore use Mia’s diary writing and the diary format of the series as my starting points. I argue that while Mia’s diary writing is portrayed as empowering, and thereby inspiring, the diary format as a narrative structure creates a rather ambiguous tone and effect; questioning but simultaneously conforming to traditional, restricting notions of femininity.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2016. , 41 p.
Keyword [en]
The Princess Diaries series, Meg Cabot, Feminism, The princess character, Diaries, Diary writing, YA fiction
National Category
General Literature Studies Specific Literatures
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-131228OAI: diva2:936717
Available from: 2016-06-20 Created: 2016-06-14 Last updated: 2016-06-20Bibliographically approved

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