Date of Award

2016

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department

English

First Advisor

Patricia M. Gantt

Abstract

For many people, exposure to folk art happens at a young age; however, we may not realize what it is, see its value, or be aware of the terminology used by scholars. The lack of understanding the importance of folk art is especially true for children’s books. This project focuses on the analysis of children’s books about quilts or quilting, primarily because quilts are often found in books and relatable to a wide audience. While the choice in genre and topic may limit the scope of folk art analysis, there are still hundreds of books solely based on quilts or quilting. With such a large amount to choose from, I have selected approximately fifty books to analyze. The bulk of this project focuses on four major stereotypes found in children’s books—social status, age and gender, ethnicity and race, and purpose of the quilts; however, my project is twofold. The two main questions I seek to answer in this critical essay are why do these stereotypes exist, and how do they affect our views of folk art, especially in regard to quilting? Although projects based on children’s books are typically geared toward parents or children, the second purpose of this project is to assist elementary teachers and librarians with ways to acknowledge and address the stereotypes listed above without perpetuating misconceptions of folk art or quilting. Attached to the essay are an annotated bibliography, which summarizes the plot and addresses the stereotypes found in each book, as well as a searchable spreadsheet that provides a briefer version of the information found in the annotated bibliography. Both documents are meant to help with choosing books to be read by or to young audiences.

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