GVSU McNair Scholars Program

The Metamorphosis of Snow White: Meaning- Making in the Spaces

Poster for the MSU AGEP Student Success Conference 2020

Over the year of 2020 I have had the opportunity to participate in the McNair Scholars Program, a highly selective, federally funded program that prepares first-generation and traditionally underrepresented undergraduate students for doctoral studies. 

This involved attending a rigorous writing course and a graduate school preparation course over the summer while conducting scholarly research. This research was supervised by a GVSU faculty member, who assists one-on-one with the various components of the program. I worked with Dr. McLeod from the English department at GVSU. I feel like my participation in this program has altered my educational trajectory and taught me invaluable lessons about myself as a scholar, student, and individual. 

I reviewed literature related to fairy tales as a genre, semiotics, and postmodernism while examining two versions of Snow White for the memetic changes in the text and the influences of their society. The spaces in the text are what allow for meaning-making to occur, and influence the overall meaning of the fairy tale. I am currently in the process of writing a manuscript for hopeful publication in an academic journal on the topic. 


Summer Scholars Day 2020, the GVSU OURS’ showcase, was held virtually due to COVID-19. I chose to do a recorded presentation on the topic of Meaning Making in the Spaces of Fairy Tale Metamorphosis. 

The abstract for this presentation is as follows: 

The metamorphosis of fairy tales can be observed through the spaces that occur within the reader, resulting in personality reintegration. Fairy tales are magical stories where an everyday hero faces a crisis and experiences external transformation. They are often initiation stories, creating social stability by providing a way to respond to the crisis of a new stage in life. They undergo memetic transformation through their deliberate alteration by storytellers who change features of the story to satisfy the needs of their society. The spaces within these texts allow meaning making to occur as the reader fills them with their own similar experiences. I examined 2 versions of Snow White and the metamorphosis of the spaces in the text through what has been altered in each one. Understanding how fairy tales function to stabilize society, their role in meaning-making, and how effective metamorphosis occurs can lead to the development of new fairy tales that answer our own society’s needs.

I also presented my McNair research at GVSU’s Scholars Day 2021, which was also held remotely. For this presentation I tried to incorporate video of myself, as well as updated the previous presentation and content to reflect some of the newer connections I had made.