Date of Award

Spring 2023

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



Committee Chairperson

Gabrielle Halko, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Amy Anderson, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Joseph Navitsky, Ph.D.


This thesis attempts to elucidate how the illustrated images and text of the medieval myths of King Arthur and Robin Hood were translated from an English national epic to an American classic and used, I argue, to construct a new American identity. My analysis looks at both the written word and illustrated images in Howard Pyle’s The Story of King Arthur and His Knights and The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood, as well as The Boy’s King Arthur written by Sidney Lanier and illustrated by N.C. Wyeth, and Robin Hood written by Paul Creswick and illustrated by N.C. Wyeth. Work in this field expresses an instinctive bias towards the written text rather than basing interpretation on the premise that language and pictures have equal power to create meaning. For that reason, my interpretations of Robin Hood and King Arthur will be established through intersemiotic translation with added support from gender and Marxist theory. Ultimately, I demonstrate how children’s literature and illustration were redeployed as useful and timely instruments in the creation and propagation of American identity in the late 19th and early 20th century. As children’s literature was considered a source of moral education at the time, illustrated children’s classics were much more than stories. They were tools to shape the future generation and, in doing so, shape the future of a nation.