American Studies ETDs

Publication Date

Spring 5-1-2018


The reintroduction of wolves opened a new chapter in the story of wolves in the U.S. West. But what the conservation community considers moral progress, welcoming the once violently eradicated wolves as an important part of a healthy ecosystem, those opposing wolf restoration consider their return a decivilizing, regressive move back to a by-gone era. In the contentious discourse over wolf politics, the fairy tale of Little Red Riding Hood is used as a common metaphor; its prevalence and persistence in this discourse indicates that more than an innocuous children’s bedtime story is in question.

To examine the potential cultural and political currency the fairy tale brings into this discourse, I rely on Mikhail Bakhtin’s notion of the dialogic nature of an utterance. An utterance is never a neutral expression, but an active participant in an ongoing social dialogue; Little Red Riding Hood brings into this discourse a distinct voice of a fairy tale that imbues new meaning and relevance in the tenacious dialogue between the pro-wolf and the anti-wolf sentiment. Looking at the contextual and relational interaction of the utterance brings visibility to how Little Red Riding Hood provides a vehicle to disseminate, manipulate, and proliferate competing cultural and political messages about much larger issues than the presence of the biological wolves in the U.S. West.



Document Type


Degree Name

American Studies

Level of Degree


Department Name

American Studies

First Committee Member (Chair)

David Correia

Second Committee Member

Susanne Baackmann

Third Committee Member

Alyosha Goldstein