ACLA 2016: March 17-20, 2016, Cambridge, MA

CFP: Variations on the Fairytale

Organizer: Chris Chiasson, Indiana University, Bloomington

The fairytale is a bad object for literary studies. Although bound to
the respectable practice of narratology through Propp's seminal
Morphology of the Folk-Tale, the fairytale otherwise exists uneasily
alongside other einfache Formen (to use André Jolles' designation) such
as myth, legend, saga, joke, case, and on the margins of high literary
genres like the novella, short story, and the so-called art fairytale.
The fact that it began as an oral genre and that any given tale is
likely to exist in hundreds of variants makes it difficult to use
standard tools of literary analysis on any given text. The perceived
methodological difficulties have tended to remove fairy tales from
literary critical interest and place them in the competency of the
folklorist. It would be a shame, however, if we did not avail ourselves
of the richness of the corpus of fairy tales in our work, especially
when illustrious scholars such as Max Lüthi, Heinz von Rölleke, Jack
Zipes, Maria Tatar, and Marina Warner have demonstrated the
possibilities of working with fairytales in a literary critical
framework. This seminar, then, is not only interested in questions of
interpreting fairytales, but also investigating the cultural work they
have done from the 19th century to the present as they have spread into
other media, hybridized into other genres, and demarcated childish and
non-childish things.

This seminar is interested in contributions from any literary - or oral
- tradition, or comparisons between or among traditions. Topics to
consider might include the following:
- speech acts in/analogous to the fairytale: accusations, confessions,
gossip, secrets, lies
- the fairytale as speech act: the purpose of the fairytale as an
embedded story (German examples include Gotthelf's Die schwarze Spinne
and Storm's Der Schimmelreiter
- the art fairytale (Basile, Tieck, Hoffmann, Pushkin, Andersen)
- the fairytale as the basis for a longer story
- distant reading of fairy tales
- fairy tales in other media (opera, movies (not just Disney but also
Guy Maddin, the Brothers Quay, and Jan Svankmajer)
- fairy tales and social history: the history of childhood, domestic
spaces, the bourgeoisie
- Propp's historical arguments concerning the genesis of the fairytale
(fairytale vs. myth)
- fairytale vs. novella (in Goethe's Unterhaltungen deutscher
Ausgewanderten, German Romanticism more generally, or André Jolles)
- the fairytale and anthropology

You may submit an abstract through the ACLA website until Sept. 23. For
more information on how to submit, please visit the ACLA website: If you have any questions about the
seminar, please contact [log in to unmask]

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