Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)




Since L. Frank Baum published his first Oz book in 1900, Oz has become an integral part of American society; yet, only recently have his books begun to receive critical attention. Critics seem most interested in dealing with them in terms of sociology, popular culture, and psychology, but a few have recognized Baum's contributions to the birth of science fiction, to the depiction of a female hero in Dorothy, and to Baum's imaginative and perceptive examination of what separates humans from machines. This thesis will analyze the literary dimension of the Oz series. The goal will be to perceive the invention of Oz as a process and as a product of imagination.

In the first chapter, I briefly discuss the genres of the fairy tale and fantasy, as well as Baum's goals as a writer of children's books. In the second chapter, I focus on Baum's life as the inventor of Oz, identifying those events from his biography that particularly influenced his invention of Oz. In chapter three, I discuss the thematic and pragmatic function of the actively moving cogs in the invention--his wonderful characters, the pattern of their interaction, how the process of their creation demonstrates Baum's probings into the questions of identity and the essence of humanity in an age of increasing technology. In the concluding chapter, I examine how Baum's anticipatory vision has altered the genre of the fairy tale and, especially, how his use of the image of technology as a force in a turn- of-the-century children's fantasy anticipated and inspired not only the writers who followed him but perhaps America's image of itself as well.