Open Access
Xu, Xu
Graduate Program:
Curriculum and Instruction
Master of Science
Document Type:
Master Thesis
Date of Defense:
April 03, 2008
Committee Members:
  • Daniel Dean Hade, Thesis Advisor
  • Gail Louise Boldt, Dissertation Advisor
  • Caldecott winners
  • Space
  • Poststructuralist feminism
  • Gender
The Caldecott Medal picturebooks usually have the reputation of being considered the most distinguished picturebooks for children in the United States, and they exert great influence on librarians, teachers, parents and children themselves. Reading the Caldecott winners exposes children to meanings, meanings about what it means to be male or female. This study presents an analysis of the meanings of femininity and masculinity produced in the different places conveyed in the Caldecott Medal winners from 1980 to 2007. In the Caldecott Medal winners, although a few studies consider the sex-role stereotypes, which have raised consciousness among more conventional publishers, award committees, authors, parents, and teachers, these studies premise on a binary consisting of two stable variables, male and female, and they do not tend to the books themselves as productive of meanings. Working from a poststructuralist feminist perspective, this study attends to the meanings of masculinity and femininity, and multiple interpretations of a particular text. Also feminist geographers influenced this study through their proposition that the relationship between gendered, class, racial identity and space is mutually constitutive. In other words, the spaces in which social practices take place affect the nature of those practices, and in turn, the constructed spaces receive meaning through the social practices that define men and women as different and unequal. This study examines 24 Caldecott Medal winners from 1980 to 2007, and investigates the relationships between meanings about femininity and masculinity and four different kinds of places depicted in the winners—home, public open spaces, workplace and displacement. This analysis suggests that while some medal winners continue to represent traditional versions of femininity in relation to the domestic sphere and traditional versions of masculinity in relation to the public space, many other winners convey complex and contradictory meanings about masculinity and femininity constructed in the different places.