Alice Nuttall

Alice Nuttall



Thesis title: Fur, Fangs and Feathers: Colonial and counter-colonial portrayals of American Indians in young adult fantasy literature

Start year: 2009


  • Dr Eóin Flannery

Research topic

In recent children’s literature, there has been a distinct effort to embrace diversity and multiculturalism, and to include nuanced and non-stereotypical portrayals of non-white characters. Examples such as the works of Malorie Blackman or Randa Abdel-Fattah, which feature young children of colour as protagonists, avoid pitfalls associated with earlier texts, such as stereotyping and tokenism.

However, I argue that many recent children’s and young adult novels, particularly those by authors writing about a culture of which they do not have personal experience, contain similar stereotypes to those found in earlier works. For example, a common trope in young adult fantasy literature is to associate Native peoples with phenomena such as shape-shifting; a cliché remarkably similar to the colonial concept of American Indians as either ‘animalistic’ or ‘closer to nature’.

My thesis analyses the extent to which stereotypes inform the ways that non-Native authors write about American Indian peoples, and examines the methods used by Native authors to ‘write back’ against colonial portrayals of American Indian peoples. By comparing novels written by Native and non-Native authors, I examine the implications of insider and outsider perspectives, and the impacts of these viewpoints on the ways that American Indian characters are represented. My primary texts are Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight saga, Cynthia Leitich Smith’s Tantalize series, and Joseph Bruchac’s novel Wolf Mark.


Postcolonialism, children’s literature, North America, American Indian literature

General research interests

Postcolonial literature, children’s and young adult literature, pop culture, American Indian literature

Work in progress

  • The Unstable Body: Jacob, George, Lucas, and the perils of being a teenage werewolf – conference paper for Civilising Bodies, University of Exeter
  • The Problem of Leah: The Native female body in the Twilight saga – journal article

Teaching experience

  • U67012 Skills and Creative Strategies for English
  • Associate Lecturer, Semester 1, 2011 and 2012


Conference papers

  • Wand Privilege: Perceptions of superiority and inferiority in wizarding society, ‘Magic is Might’ Conference, University of Limerick, 23–24 July 2012
  • How is the Red Man Read? Disney’s Native Americans, Global Youth Conference, University of Kent in Canterbury, 24 October 2009
  • Words of Violence: Savages, monsters, and (neo)colonial writing), ‘Worlds of Violence’ Conference, University of Essex, 9 September 2009

Book chapters

  • “Said Hufflepuff/I’ll teach the lot/And treat them just the same”: Harry Potter and the Illusion of Inclusion, in The Sociology of Harry Potter, edited by Jenn Sims (2012)

Academic and professional training

  • Oxford Brookes Associate Lecturer course, September 2012–February 2013
  • MA English Studies, Oxford Brookes University, September 2008–June 2009
    Dissertation: The Appropriated Alice: Appropriations of Lewis Carroll’s Alice novels in children’s literature and culture
  • BA Hons English Literature, University of Southampton, October 2005–June 2008

Other experience and professional activities

I have worked as a volunteer steward at the Story Museum in Oxford since summer 2012, and have participated in the Oxford Children’s Literature and Youth Culture Colloquium since 2009.

I enjoy creative writing, and have published two webcomics, Footloose and Cherry. I also led a creative writing workshop at St Gregory the Great’s School in Oxford (2009).