The emancipating dwarf : cultural representations of short-statured characters
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Dwarfs and short-statured characters play an essential function in narratives, but they are often overlooked or dismissed. These characters, however, are not only in stories to add whimsy or to ‘spice up’ the atmosphere; they help the story progress. In order to understand the role short-statured characters play, we will first look at tribal rites of passage, as described by Arnold van Gennep (1873-1957) and Victor Turner (1920- 1983), in which scale is often changed and opposites mixed in the liminal period of the rites. The short-statured characters, often, but not at all times, represented as dwarfs, have the effect of bringing the story into a liminal space, and this often liberates the averaged-bodied characters by changing their perspectives. This, however, is not always fair to the dwarf because she is relegated to the margins, and therefore is stuck in the liminal space without the opportunity of assimilation. The dwarf remains a freak. Therefore, we will look at the burgeoning study of ‘freakery’, which has identified many elements associated with ‘freaks’ that are shared with the liminal period, the medieval idea of the monstrous, and the carnival. In the second half of the thesis, is an excerpt from the novel Little Aldo, which takes the theory examined in the academic half and uses it to create a work of fiction. Little Aldo is a dwarf who has become a prominent advisor in American politics, but he comes to a point in his life where he must choose between his career and his true feelings.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy
Embargo Date: 2024-05-29
Embargo Reason: Thesis restricted in accordance with University regulations. Print and electronic copy restricted until 29th May 2024
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