Naya Tadavarthy

BA Honors | Painting & Drawing


My name is Naya Tadavarthy, and I am from snowy Saint Paul, Minnesota. Here at Notre Dame, I am majoring in studio art and German with a minor in history, and I am a member of the Glynn Family Honors Program. I decided to combine these interests for my senior thesis and realize a childhood dream of writing and illustrating a children’s book. When not reading or creating, I love to knit, sail, bake, and run. After graduation, I will be traveling to Vienna, Austria, for a Fulbright Combined Award, before returning to the United States to pursue an MFA in costume design at Northwestern University.


My project consists of a fairy-tale-style childrens’ biography of Gisela von Arnim (1827-1889), a German author and artist who composed a number of proto-feminist stories as a teenager, including Das Leben der Hochgräfin Gritta von Rattenzuhaubeiuns (1845). My story focuses on the writing of this fairytale novel and von Arnim’s co-founding of a female-focused literary circle called the Kaffeterkreis. I based my children’s book on German- and English-language research into von Arnim’s life and literary works and intentionally subverted fairy tale gender roles in my adaptation of this young author’s story. The book highlights the work of a writer and illustrator not well known outside of the scholarly community, whose creative efforts challenged historical notions of female authorship as unnatural. Geared towards students in mid-to-late elementary school, I hope my children’s book will empower young people to share their narratives through their own creative process, fostering the same sense of personal and artistic agency that von Arnim and I demonstrate by telling tales. For research and annotations to my writing and illustrations, as well as access to the full book, please visit this link.


Once Upon an Author: The Story of Gisela von Arnim