“She was really the man she pretended to be”: Change of Sex in Folk Narratives



Ready, Psyche Z

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Folktale Type ATU 514, “The Change of Sex,” is one that has been told and collected continuously for three thousand years. Variants appear across Europe and the Middle East, and in Asia and the Americas. In this tale type, the female protagonist cross-dresses as a man, and after a series of adventures, is physically transformed into a man, marries a princess, and lives happily ever after. This thesis brings together the largest collection of variants of ATU 514 to date. Analysis of these variants, informed by feminist, queer, and transgender theory, is based on cross-tale comparison and discussion of a pattern repeated in every variant: outside the primary narrative action, there is a secondary narrative in which characters in the tale express frustration at the limitations of sex, gender, and gender identity.



Folklore, Transgender, Folktales, Feminist theory, Queer theory, Fairy tales