Dissertation Title:

Wishing For Wakanda: Marginalized Young Adults and Fantasy Fiction


Marissa Aro

Date, Time & Place:

May 4, 2022 at 10:00 am


Through the lenses of depth psychology and mythology, this dissertation focuses on what fictional safe spaces are, their role in the individuation process and how fictional safe spaces benefit marginalized adolescents as well as the masses. Paired with the text is a performance piece in the form of a young adult novel titled Mixed Magic.

Young adult fiction as a tool to create safe spaces for the marginalized adolescents enables the individuation process according to C. G. Jung’s model. Fictional safe spaces like Narnia, in The Chronicles of Narnia, by C. S. Lewis, and Hogwarts, in the Harry Potter series, by J. K. Rowling, have hosted countless generations to find themselves while relating and building a community with others of like minds despite age, distance, or language. As movies, television shows, and books featuring safe spaces have trickled in young brown audience members have found the representation they have been deprived of. This dissertation focuses on the creation, significance, and importance of the safe space created by the growing franchise of Black Panther for not only young African Americans but for young girls and every other stifled representation.

  • Program/Track/Year: Mythological Studies, I, 2016
  • Chair: Dr. Christine Downing
  • Reader: Dr. Lori Pye
  • External Reader: Dr. Ana Thorne
  • Keywords: Young Adult, Fantasy Fiction, African American, Personality Test, Individuation, Black Panther