Rachel Smithgall

Document Type

Digital Slide Show Presentation

Publication Date



Vladimir Nabokov's controversial novel Lolita is a vibrant story that has kept society enamored about the taboo relationship between a 12-year-old girl and her stepfather. While the unconventional and frankly disturbing relationship is something that has been discussed since the publication of the book, it is not the focus. Instead, I examine the unintentional effects that Lolita has had on an entire sub-genre of films as well as its hold on the personalities of young girls, an effect that is the complete opposite of Nabokov’s intentions. To investigate the dynamic shift created by Lolita, I delved into two movies that were released in the 1990s and a play that are clearly influenced by the novel. I used Vladimir Nabokov’s 1955 novel as a foundational point in my analysis as well as Adrian Lyne’s 1997 adaption of Lolita as the start of my film analysis. The films American Beauty (1999) and The Crush (1993) are used to examine how Lolita morphed into a film subgenre that took the 1990s by storm. The contents are analyzed through both feminist and reader/audience response lenses. The feminist lens was chosen as Lolita proved to have a drastic effect on young girls of the 1990s and the continued sexualization of young girls in the media. Since most of the content contains themes of incest and pedophilia, it is important to look at the films through an ethical lens rather than ignore the negative implications. While the main point of my thesis is not meant to focus on how wrong the content is, one cannot ignore the moral and societal implications that come from the content. The analysis of the selected works offers a deeper understanding of how Lolita’s impact has deviated from its author’s original intention and how this shift created a lasting impact on the culture of ’90s girls.

Faculty Mentor

Terry Novak, PhD

Academic Discipline

BSBA - Human Resource Management

Included in

Business Commons



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