Mahurin Honors College Capstone Experience/Thesis Projects



Document Type



Defamiliarized Gender in the Works of Miyazaki Hayao argues that the films of Hayao Miyazaki portray unconventionally strong female protagonists through a process called defamiliarization. Defamiliarization is a literary technique that transforms familiar qualities to ones that seem strange and new to the audience. Miyazaki borrows from and rejects elements of Japanese culture to create characters and settings that evoke the defamiliarization of gender in the films Spirited Away and Kiki’s Delivery Service. Examples of this in Miyazaki’s works include allusions to historical figures of the opposite gender in his own characters and presenting fantastical creatures of Japanese folklore but with alterations to their gender identities. Defamiliarized gender may even take the form of a long shot of the young female protagonist gazing out of a window on a train. This process of defamiliarization Miyazaki employs creates protagonists that are uniquely feminist, as they send a healthy message for young female audiences to grow in ways unrelated to gender and to derive strength from their relationships with others and themselves.

Advisor(s) or Committee Chair

Gillian Knoll, Ph.D.


Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies | Film and Media Studies | Visual Studies