The Evolution of Nancy Drew, Cultural Icon: Readers, Writers, and Fanfiction Authors

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Title: The Evolution of Nancy Drew, Cultural Icon: Readers, Writers, and Fanfiction Authors
Author: Merrill, Ashley
Advisors: Mary Helen Thuente, Committee Chair
John Kessel, Committee Member
David M. Rieder, Committee Member
Abstract: Nancy Drew is widely recognized as an influential American cultural icon. In this paper I make a detailed examination of Nancy's initial characterization as girl sleuth in the first ten books of the Nancy Drew Mystery Stories, published in the 1930s. I spend another chapter examining the initial volumes of later Nancy Drew series books, specifically the 1960s rewritten texts, the 1980s-90s Nancy Drew Files series, and the contemporary Girl Detective series. My penultimate chapter discusses Nancy Drew as realized in fanfiction, or stories written by readers and fans. My emphasis is on explaining Nancy's appeal as a cultural icon and the ways fanfiction authors reinvent and appropriate that icon for their own purposes in stories. To this end I cite fanfic writers and readers' response to why they read and write Nancy Drew fanfiction, and I analyze the content and function of a sample of stories written by Nancy Drew fans. I conclude that Nancy's appeal and the basis of her status as cultural icon is due to her unique nature as a figure frozen in transition between adolescence and adulthood, along with her more conventionally admirable traits. Her Everygirl appearance when removed from that unique matrix makes her extremely adaptable to readers for their own purposes, both within the context of fanfiction and without.
Date: 2007-04-06
Degree: MA
Discipline: English

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