Document Type



Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor's Name

Vanessa Kraemer Sohan

First Advisor's Committee Title

Committee chair

Second Advisor's Name

Shewonda Leger

Second Advisor's Committee Title

Committee member

Third Advisor's Name

Michael Grafals

Third Advisor's Committee Title

Committee member

Fourth Advisor's Name

Anne Castro

Fourth Advisor's Committee Title

Committee member


stereotype threat, speech act theory, fantasy, agency, children's literature, Diana Wynne Jones, Howl's Moving Castle

Date of Defense



This thesis analyzes significant moments and selected excerpts from Diana Wynne Jones’s Howl’s Moving Castle, focusing on the protagonist Sophie’s character development and uses of magic through speech in relation to stereotype threat and speech act theory. This thesis connects recent scholarly conversations about stereotype threat to the metaphor of Sophie’s spoken magic as the means by which she establishes her own identity and reclaims power over her life. This thesis considers Jones’s reflections about connections between fantasy writing and reality, as well as the potential significance of those connections for children whose experiences are reflected in fantasy works by translation. This thesis thereby argues that Sophie’s experiences with expectations of others that limit her perceptions of her own abilities and willingness to leave the place where she started can be seen as representative of real-world experiences of stereotype threat, an issue that is faced by children and adults alike.





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