thesis_access.pdf (692.66 kB)
Download file

"Shaping and Cutting and Improving and Adding":  Acknowledged and Hidden Influences in Scott Westerfeld's Uglies series and Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials

Download (692.66 kB)
posted on 10.11.2021, 08:19 by Ross, Isabel Walker

This thesis aims to identify and analyse the most prominent influences on Scott Westerfeld's Uglies series and Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy. It looks particularly at the difference between the authors' attitude towards influences they happily acknowledge and those influences which they attempt to conceal because they cause them anxiety (in the case of Westerfeld) or embarrassment (in the case of Pullman). This focus, combined with the speculative analysis of His Dark Materials' influence on Extras, the fourth book of the Uglies series, is intended to show the variability of literary influence. Comparative close readings throughout the thesis display the variety of ways influences are used within the texts, and illustrate the factors on which their use is dependent: the compatibility of the latecomer text with its precursor, the author's opinion of the earlier work, and the reading the author makes of the precursor text. Pullman's acknowledgement of influences is dependent on whether he considers them worthy precursors (in the case of Heinrich von Kleist, William Blake, and John Milton) or an embarrassing ancestor (in the case of C. S. Lewis). Westerfeld's is dependent on how similar his precursor works are to his own texts, as he does not acknowledge the obvious influence of Aldous Huxley, but happily names Ray Bradbury, John Christopher, Ted Chiang, and Charles Beaumont as influences. The thesis shows that the use of literary influences is not straightforward as one author may, as Westerfeld and Pullman do, display different attitudes to and appropriate precursor texts in differing ways within one work.


Copyright Date


Date of Award



Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Rights License

Author Retains Copyright

Degree Discipline


Degree Grantor

Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Degree Level


Degree Name

Master of Arts

Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Awarded Research Masters Thesis



Victoria University of Wellington School

School of English, Film, Theatre and Media Studies


Ricketts, Harry