Special Issue "Fairy Tale and its Uses in Contemporary New Media and Popular Culture"

A special issue of Humanities (ISSN 2076-0787).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (1 March 2016)

Printed Edition Available!
A printed edition of this Special Issue is available here.

Special Issue Editor

Guest Editor
Dr. Claudia Schwabe

Assistant Professor, Department of Languages, Philosophy and Communication Studies, Utah State University, Logan, UT 84322, USA
Website | E-Mail
Interests: literary fairy tales; folk fairy tales; fairy tales in popular culture; east german fairy tale films; fairy tale pedagogy; magic realism; 18th- and 19th-century romantic literature and culture; german songs and folklore; children’s literature and film; german orientalism

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

While fairy tales are constantly migrating into new cultures and new media, reinventing themselves along the way, recent years in particular have seen a wave of highly innovative but also highly disputable fairy-tale retellings in popular culture. Additionally, contributing to this new and transformed pervasiveness of the fairy tale in today’s culture is its hypercommodification and mass-mediated hype. One major, though by no means exclusive focus of this volume is, how do we read popular culture’s employment of the fairy tale? How, why, and for whom have fairy-tale narratives, characters, and motifs metamorphosed in the twenty-first century? What significant intertextual relationships are created by the new fairy-tale versions? The continuing proliferation and diversification of fairy tales in our society permeates a wide range of mediums: from film and television to commercial platforms, advertising, and marketplaces capitalizing on consumer products (including clothing, toys, and more), and from popular literature and graphic novels to new media (Internet, social media, blogs, online newspapers, wikis, video games).

Thanks to the electronic accessibility of fairy tales via websites and online publications, they now have become a multimedia phenomenon. This development has not only informed scholarly perspectives, but also taken hold in popular consciousness. Essential questions that must be asked in this context are, How is new media changing the face of the fairy tale and to what effects? At the same time, thanks to the fast-growing field of modern technologies, we are now in a better position than ever before to explore and discuss the intersections of fairy-tale studies with media and technology. The advancement of online fairy-tale databases that are publicly accessible, such as the International Fairy Tale Filmography (IFTF) and Fairy Tales Teleography and Visualizations (FTTV), two archival online tools for intermedial fairy-tale research, offer significantly evolving opportunities to examine the relationships between tales and popular culture within the framework of new media.

This Special Issue of Humanities invites authors to analyze and discuss topics, including, but not limited to: the commodification and commercialization of contemporary fairy tales; Americanization; Disneyification; postcoloniality; repesentations of race, gender, sexual identity, and pornography; the generic complexity of recent fairy-tale adaptations with regard to genre mixing and mashing; fairy-tale hybridity; intertextuality and intermediality; wonder; fan fiction; manga; illustrations; international reinterpretations and reboots of classical fairy tales in old (television, film, literature) and new media; intersections of fairy-tale studies and digital humanities scholarship. Interdisciplinary approaches are particularly welcome.

Dr. Claudia Schwabe
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Humanities is an international peer-reviewed open access quarterly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 350 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

References:

Cristina Bacchilega. ‪Fairy Tales Transformed?: Twenty-First-Century Adaptations and the Politics of Wonder. Detroit: Wayne State University Press. 2013.
Pauline Greenhill, and Syndey Eve Matrix, eds. ‪Fairy Tale Films: Visions of Ambiguity. Logan: Utah State University Press, 2010.
Pauline Greenhill, and Jill Rudy, eds. Channeling Wonder: Fairy Tales on Television. Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 2014.
Martin Hallett, and Barbara Karasek, eds. Fairy Tales in Popular Culture. Peterborough, Ontario: Broadview Press 2014.
Vanessa Joosen, and Gillian Lathey, eds. Grimms’ Tales around the Globe: The Dynamics of Their International Reception. Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 2014.
Jack Zipes. Grimm Legacies: The Magic Spell of the Grimms’ Folk and Fairy Tales. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2015.
Jack Zipes. The Enchanted Screen: The Unknown History of Fairy-Tale Films. New York: Routledge, 2011.

Keywords

  • fairy tale
  • new media
  • popular culture
  • film
  • television
  • wonder
  • commercialization
  • americanization
  • toys
  • disneyification
  • postcoloniality
  • gender studies
  • hybridity
  • intertextuality
  • intermediality
  • digital humanities
  • twenty first century

Published Papers (12 papers)

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Editorial

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Open AccessEditorial The Fairy Tale and Its Uses in Contemporary New Media and Popular Culture Introduction
Humanities 2016, 5(4), 81; doi:10.3390/h5040081
Received: 13 September 2016 / Revised: 19 September 2016 / Accepted: 19 September 2016 / Published: 27 September 2016
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Abstract
Ever since the beginning of the 21st century, the fairy tale has not only become a staple of the small and silver screen around the globe, it has also migrated into new media, overwhelming audiences with imaginative and spectacular retellings along the way.
[...] Read more.
Ever since the beginning of the 21st century, the fairy tale has not only become a staple of the small and silver screen around the globe, it has also migrated into new media, overwhelming audiences with imaginative and spectacular retellings along the way. Indeed, modern fairy-tale adaptations pervading contemporary popular culture drastically subvert, shatter, and alter the public’s understanding of the classic fairy tale. Because of the phenomenally increasing proliferation of fairy-tale transformations in today’s “old” and “new” media, we must reflect upon the significance of the fairy tale for society and its social uses in a nuanced fashion. How, why, and for whom have fairy-tale narratives, characters, and motifs metamorphosed in recent decades? What significant intermedial and intertextual relationships exist nowadays in connection with the fairy tale? This special issue features 11 illuminating articles of 13 scholars in the fields of folklore and fairy-tale studies tackling these and other relevant questions. Full article

Research

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Open AccessArticle “After Ever After”: Social Commentary through a Satiric Disney Parody for the Digital Age
Humanities 2016, 5(3), 63; doi:10.3390/h5030063
Received: 2 April 2016 / Revised: 18 July 2016 / Accepted: 19 July 2016 / Published: 27 July 2016
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Abstract
“If you’ve ever wondered why Disney tales all end in lies,” then ask YouTube artist Paint—aka Jon Cozart. He has created a video for YouTube.com that re-imagines what happened after four of Disney’s leading ladies’ “dreams came true.” Continuing a tradition that is
[...] Read more.
“If you’ve ever wondered why Disney tales all end in lies,” then ask YouTube artist Paint—aka Jon Cozart. He has created a video for YouTube.com that re-imagines what happened after four of Disney’s leading ladies’ “dreams came true.” Continuing a tradition that is as old as the tales he sings about, the artist combines characters and melodies that have become culturally ubiquitous since the media domination of the Disney Corporation with an interpretation of the material that tries to make sense of the world in which it exists. Continuing the criticisms of post-modernism and feminist theory, Cozart challenges the “happily ever afters” that have become the stock endings for the genre. Through comedic satire he creates parodied storylines that bring four animated princesses out of their Disney realms and into the real world where they must deal with environmental destruction, racism, and colonialism, among other issues. The use of a video-sharing site such as Youtube.com not only allows for the expanded distribution of fan-created material, but it also directly addresses a wider audience than traditional oral story tellers could possibly reach: the Internet. This case study looks at the ways in which the global recognition of Disney culture allows for the creation of social commentary through familiar and beloved characters, while an increasingly digitally-connected world impacts the capabilities and understanding of both the creator and the viewers of the material. While far from being a new phenomenon, the reinterpretation of fairy tales takes on content and a form that reflects the increasingly globalized and digitized world in Cozart’s Disney parody. Full article
Open AccessArticle “All That Was Lost Is Revealed”: Motifs and Moral Ambiguity in Over the Garden Wall
Humanities 2016, 5(3), 51; doi:10.3390/h5030051
Received: 13 March 2016 / Revised: 30 June 2016 / Accepted: 30 June 2016 / Published: 5 July 2016
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Abstract
Pointedly nostalgic in both its source material and storytelling approach, Over the Garden Wall’s vintage aesthetic is not merely decorative, but ideological. The miniseries responds to recent postmodern fairy tale adaptations by stripping away a century of popular culture references and using
[...] Read more.
Pointedly nostalgic in both its source material and storytelling approach, Over the Garden Wall’s vintage aesthetic is not merely decorative, but ideological. The miniseries responds to recent postmodern fairy tale adaptations by stripping away a century of popular culture references and using motifs, not to invoke and upset increasingly familiar fairy tales, but as an artist’s palette of evocative, available images. In privileging imagery and mood over lessons, Over the Garden Wall captures something that has become vanishingly rare in children’s media: the moral ambiguity of fairy tale worlds.1 Full article
Open AccessArticle Himalayan Folklore and the Fairy Tale Genre
Humanities 2016, 5(3), 50; doi:10.3390/h5030050
Received: 1 March 2016 / Revised: 22 May 2016 / Accepted: 27 June 2016 / Published: 5 July 2016
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Abstract
Based on fieldwork by the author conducted in Tibetan cultural areas of the Indian Himalayas, this paper explores Himalayan understandings of what defines a fairy tale, in contrast to the Western understanding. In parts of the Himalayas, a distinction is made between “
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Based on fieldwork by the author conducted in Tibetan cultural areas of the Indian Himalayas, this paper explores Himalayan understandings of what defines a fairy tale, in contrast to the Western understanding. In parts of the Himalayas, a distinction is made between “lakshung” (fairy tales) and “kyakshung”, which are shorter stories, the kind one might tell over tea. In light of the proposals to record and disseminate many of these stories using new media, this paper seeks to examine these genre definitions and investigates the various contexts in which these stories are told. Full article
Open AccessArticle “They All Lived Happily Ever After. Obviously.”: Realism and Utopia in Game of Thrones-Based Alternate Universe Fairy Tale Fan Fiction
Humanities 2016, 5(2), 43; doi:10.3390/h5020043
Received: 1 April 2016 / Revised: 6 June 2016 / Accepted: 7 June 2016 / Published: 9 June 2016
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Abstract
Fan fiction alternate universe stories (AUs) that combine Game of Thrones characters and settings with fairy tale elements construct a dialogue between realism and wonder. Realism performs a number of functions in various genres, but becomes a particularly tricky concept to tie down
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Fan fiction alternate universe stories (AUs) that combine Game of Thrones characters and settings with fairy tale elements construct a dialogue between realism and wonder. Realism performs a number of functions in various genres, but becomes a particularly tricky concept to tie down in fantasy. Deployments of realism in “quality TV” series like Game of Thrones often reinforce social stigmatization of feminine genres like the romance, melodrama, and fairy tale. The happily-ever-after ending receives significant feminist criticism partly because it falls within a larger framework of utopian politics and poetics, which are frequently accused of essentialism and authoritarianism. However, because fan fiction cultures place all stories in dialogue with numerous other equally plausible versions, the fairy tale happy ending can serve unexpected purposes. By examining several case studies in fairy tale AU fan fiction based on Game of Thrones characters, situations, and settings, this paper demonstrates the genre’s ability to construct surprising critiques of real social and historical situations through strategic deployment of impossible wishes made manifest through the magic of fan creativity. Full article
Open AccessArticle “I Am the Wolf: Queering ‘Little Red Riding Hood’ and ‘Snow White and Rose Red’ in the Television Show Once Upon a Time
Humanities 2016, 5(2), 41; doi:10.3390/h5020041
Received: 2 March 2016 / Revised: 5 June 2016 / Accepted: 6 June 2016 / Published: 8 June 2016
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Abstract
In season one, episode 15 of the television show Once Upon a Time, viewers are given a glimpse into the history of Ruby/Red, the series’ version of Red Riding Hood. The episode reveals that, contrary to most oral and written versions of
[...] Read more.
In season one, episode 15 of the television show Once Upon a Time, viewers are given a glimpse into the history of Ruby/Red, the series’ version of Red Riding Hood. The episode reveals that, contrary to most oral and written versions of the ATU 333 tale, Red herself is the wolf: a werewolf who must wear an enchanted red cloak in order to keep from turning into a monster. The episode also features the beginnings of the close friendship between Red and Snow White. The sisterly bond that quickly forms between the two women, combined with the striking images of their respective red and white cloaks, easily calls to mind a less familiar fairy tale not explicitly referenced in the series: “Snow White and Rose Red” (ATU 426). Taking queer readings of this text as starting points, I argue that this allusion complicates the bond between the two women, opening up space for a compelling reading of Red’s werewolf nature as a coded depiction of her then latent but later confirmed bisexuality. Full article
Open AccessArticle Baba Yaga, Monsters of the Week, and Pop Culture’s Formation of Wonder and Families through Monstrosity
Humanities 2016, 5(2), 40; doi:10.3390/h5020040
Received: 15 March 2016 / Revised: 16 May 2016 / Accepted: 24 May 2016 / Published: 3 June 2016
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Abstract
This paper considers transforming forms and their purposes in the popular culture trope of the televised Monster of the Week (MOTW). In the rare televised appearances outside of Slavic nations, Baba Yaga tends to show up in MOTW episodes. While some MOTW are
[...] Read more.
This paper considers transforming forms and their purposes in the popular culture trope of the televised Monster of the Week (MOTW). In the rare televised appearances outside of Slavic nations, Baba Yaga tends to show up in MOTW episodes. While some MOTW are contemporary inventions, many, like Baba Yaga, are mythological and fantastic creatures from folk narratives. Employing the concept of the folkloresque, we explore how contemporary audiovisual tropes gain integrity and traction by indexing traditional knowledge and belief systems. In the process, we examine key affordances of these forms involving the possibilities of wonder and the portability of tradition. Using digital humanities methods, we built a “monster typology” by scraping lists of folk creatures, mythological beasts, and other supernatural beings from online information sources, and we used topic modeling to investigate central concerns of MOTW series. Our findings indicate connections in these shows between crime, violence, family, and loss. The trope formulates wonder and families through folk narrative and monster forms and functions. We recognize Baba Yaga’s role as villain in these episodes and acknowledge that these series also shift between episodic and serial narrative arcs involving close relationships between characters and among viewers and fans. Full article
Open AccessArticle The Magic and Science of Grimm: A Television Fairy Tale for Modern Americans
Humanities 2016, 5(2), 34; doi:10.3390/h5020034
Received: 11 March 2016 / Revised: 22 May 2016 / Accepted: 23 May 2016 / Published: 27 May 2016
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Abstract
The National Broadcasting Company’s (NBC) Grimm uses fairy tales and an altered history to explore modern issues in American society such as environmental concerns, individuality, and social and cultural change through magic and magic-tinged science. Worldwide chaos and strife are easily explained as
[...] Read more.
The National Broadcasting Company’s (NBC) Grimm uses fairy tales and an altered history to explore modern issues in American society such as environmental concerns, individuality, and social and cultural change through magic and magic-tinged science. Worldwide chaos and strife are easily explained as part of the Grimm universe (Grimmverse) through Wesen (humanoid creatures who share characteristics with animals such as appearance and behavior), leading to a more united view of humanity and equality of human experience. Evil is often more scientifically explained, and what may appear random within our reality becomes part of a pattern in Grimm. Grimm gives its American audience a form of societal unity through historic folklore and a fictional explanation for the struggles Americans perceive to be happening within their own society as well as in other parts of the world. Full article
Open AccessArticle Between Earth and Sky: Transcendence, Reality, and the Fairy Tale in Pan’s Labyrinth
Humanities 2016, 5(2), 33; doi:10.3390/h5020033
Received: 31 March 2016 / Revised: 13 May 2016 / Accepted: 16 May 2016 / Published: 25 May 2016
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Abstract
Though it is now a decade since its release, Guillermo del Toro’s Pan’s Labyrinth (2006) remains a work of filmic art which plays upon our deep-rooted and mercurial relationship with fairy tales and folklore. By turns beautiful and grotesque, Pan’s Labyrinth is a
[...] Read more.
Though it is now a decade since its release, Guillermo del Toro’s Pan’s Labyrinth (2006) remains a work of filmic art which plays upon our deep-rooted and mercurial relationship with fairy tales and folklore. By turns beautiful and grotesque, Pan’s Labyrinth is a complex portrait of the clash between Ofelia’s fairy tale world and that of the brutal adults around her. This article will provide an analysis of the juxtaposition of the film’s imagery of closed/open circles, their respective realms, and how Ofelia moves between the two. I will argue that these aspects create an unusual relationship between the fairy tale universe and the physical one, characterized by simultaneous displacement and interdependency. Ofelia acts as a mediatrix of these spheres, conforming to neither the imposed rules of her historical reality nor the expected structural rules of fairy tales, and this refusal ultimately allows her transcendence from the circumscribed realm of the liminal into Victor Turner’s “liminoid” space, escaping the trap of binarism. Full article
Open AccessArticle We All Live in Fabletown: Bill Willingham’s Fables—A Fairy-Tale Epic for the 21st Century
Humanities 2016, 5(2), 32; doi:10.3390/h5020032
Received: 1 March 2016 / Revised: 30 April 2016 / Accepted: 9 May 2016 / Published: 19 May 2016
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Abstract
Bill Willingham’s Fables comic book series and its spin-offs have spanned fourteen years and reinforce that fairy-tale characters are culturally meaningful, adaptable, subversive, and pervasive. Willingham uses fairy-tale pastiche and syncreticism based on the ethos of comic book crossovers in his redeployment of
[...] Read more.
Bill Willingham’s Fables comic book series and its spin-offs have spanned fourteen years and reinforce that fairy-tale characters are culturally meaningful, adaptable, subversive, and pervasive. Willingham uses fairy-tale pastiche and syncreticism based on the ethos of comic book crossovers in his redeployment of previous approaches to fairy-tale characters. Fables characters are richer for every perspective that Willingham deploys, from the Brothers Grimm to Disneyesque aesthetics and more erotic, violent, and horrific incarnations. Willingham’s approach to these fairy-tale narratives is synthetic, idiosyncratic, and libertarian. This tension between Willingham’s subordination of fairy-tale characters to his overarching libertarian ideological narrative and the traditional folkloric identities drives the storytelling momentum of the Fables universe. Willingham’s portrayal of Bigby (the Big Bad Wolf turned private eye), Snow White (“Fairest of Them All”, Director of Operations of Fabletown, and avenger against pedophilic dwarves), Rose Red (Snow’s divergent, wild, and jealous sister), and Jack (narcissistic trickster) challenges contemporary assumptions about gender, heroism, narrative genres, and the very conception of a fairy tale. Emerging from negotiations with tradition and innovation are fairy-tale characters who defy constraints of folk and storybook narrative, mythology, and metafiction. Full article
Open AccessArticle Don Draper Thinks Your Ad Is Cliché: Fairy Tale Iconography in TV Commercials
Humanities 2016, 5(2), 29; doi:10.3390/h5020029
Received: 11 March 2016 / Revised: 28 April 2016 / Accepted: 28 April 2016 / Published: 6 May 2016
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Abstract
When examining the history of fairy tale iconography in advertising, folklore scholar Donald Haase’s fairy tale encyclopedia compared the Pied Piper of Hamelin to a symbol of advertising who could “play his pipe ever so sweetly and the consumers following him without resisting
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When examining the history of fairy tale iconography in advertising, folklore scholar Donald Haase’s fairy tale encyclopedia compared the Pied Piper of Hamelin to a symbol of advertising who could “play his pipe ever so sweetly and the consumers following him without resisting his charming and manipulative music.” In contrast, a 2012 episode of Mad Men, advertising luminary Don Draper shoots down a shoe commercial pitch featuring Cinderella, calling the idea “cliché”. The temptation for advertisers to rely on fairy tale figures and iconography continues today and many ignore Don’s aversion for cliché because it still gets the job done. However, there are some ads featuring fairy tales which avoid cliché and are truly innovative for their time. I’ll examine how, and for whom, these fairy tale figures have been adapted decade by decade in order to examine popular culture’s commercialized and hypnotic relationship with fairy tales in the most direct format available: television commercials. Full article
Open AccessArticle Becoming the Labyrinth: Negotiating Magical Space and Identity in Puella Magi Madoka Magica
Humanities 2016, 5(2), 20; doi:10.3390/h5020020
Received: 2 March 2016 / Revised: 30 March 2016 / Accepted: 30 March 2016 / Published: 6 April 2016
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Abstract
In the magical girl anime series Puella Magi Madoka Magica, middle-school girls receive the power and responsibility to fight witches in exchange for making a wish. The series has connections to many different genres and narrative traditions within the realm of folkloristics.
[...] Read more.
In the magical girl anime series Puella Magi Madoka Magica, middle-school girls receive the power and responsibility to fight witches in exchange for making a wish. The series has connections to many different genres and narrative traditions within the realm of folkloristics. However, the folkloric genre most relevant to the ethos and aesthetics of Madoka is that of the fairy tale. Drawing on Bill Ellis’s concept of “fairy-telling” and scholarship on new media composition, in this paper we seek to investigate labyrinths as acts of embodied composing—not lairs of evil or destruction but rather creative material memory work that negotiates grief and despair. Many of the series’ action sequences unfold in “labyrinths,” the magical spaces controlled by witches. By composing a labyrinth, witches can simultaneously reshape their environment and create a powerful statement about identity through personalized performance in narrative spaces that they control. In particular, we argue that both the frameworks of “fairy tale” and “new media” give us useful analytical resources for beginning to make sense of the intricately complex phenomenon of Madoka’s labyrinths. Full article
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