Graduate Research Papers


Open Access Graduate Research Paper


Most are familiar with the Hero archetype as he's been seen from The Odyssey to Star Wars. However, rarely is a female seen in that role. This study attempted to discern the characteristics and the journey of the female hero in Young Adult contemporary fantasy literature. The researcher attempted to answer the following questions:

1. Are contemporary female heroines in fantasy young adult literature more typically Earth Mother/Temptress in nature than Hero?

2. Do contemporary female heroines' journeys significantly differ from the traditional archetypal hero's journey?

3. Is there a new archetype emerging, and if so, what are its characteristics? Thirty-three novels were originally chosen using the Senior Collection from

Wilson Core and then narrowed to twenty-one. Using a qualitative approach, the researcher coded each book twice noting traits that would answer the questions. Using a constant comparison method, new characteristics were also noted as they appeared.

The results show that the female hero is a melding of the Mother and Hero archetypes. Her journey differs significantly in that some heroes proceed on their journey passively at first and that all of the female heroes finished with an altruistic goal (usually not the original goal of the journey). Three emerging themes that were unanticipated materialized as well: betrayal, negative images of the feminine, and supplanting the place of the father.

Year of Submission


Degree Name

Master of Arts


Department of Curriculum and Instruction


Division of School Library Studies

First Advisor

Jean Donham


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Date Original


Object Description

1 PDF file (vii, 60 pages)