Term of Award

Summer 2021

Degree Name

Master of Arts in English (M.A.)

Document Type and Release Option

Thesis (open access)

Copyright Statement / License for Reuse

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.


Department of Literature

Committee Chair

Caren Town

Committee Member 1

Sarah McCarroll

Committee Member 2

Carol Jamison


The content represented in young adult literature can be a shaping force for adolescents as they begin to understand more about themselves and the world around them. Fantasy fiction is especially powerful, as it allows readers to consider issues outside of their own experiences and learn through the characters of a fictional world. This thesis focuses specifically on the works of Tamora Pierce, and the ways in which she represents sociopolitical issues in her fictional world of Tortall. I analyze the ways in which Pierce’s works fulfill Landt’s standards of good multicultural literature, and how the representation she presents can educate readers in the real world. From Keladry of the Protector of the Small quartet, adolescent readers can learn to appreciate the value of cultures outside of their own. Pierce also deals with complex problems, such as slavery and colonization, and puts significant effort towards making her world respectful of enslaved and indigenous populations. Both Daine, of the Wild Magic quartet, and Beka, of the Beka Cooper trilogy, encounter slaves in their lines of work and endeavor to treat them as equals, setting a mold for readers on respect for others. While some of her characters from early novels, such as The Woman Who Rides Like a Man, fit the trope of white savior, Pierce’s more recent publications in the Trickster Duology work to break the stereotype of the white savior and provide a model for readers to follow as they approach issues surrounding indigenous groups in their own world. In addition to the value of these novels to individual readers, Pierce’s work has potential as a tool of pedagogy, and can be used in the classroom to structure discussions of sociopolitical issues in ways that allow young adult readers to engage with the texts and the wide variety of ideas they present.

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Research Data and Supplementary Material