Okay, so I can admit it. I have a little bit of an obsession with fairy tales. You can thank Disney for that one, as I am sure a lot of 90s kids can. It started with Beauty and the Beast and never really ended. If anything the obsession has grown from the fanaticism of a tiny child to the dragon sized mania of an adult. Give me a story with magic and fairies and evil villains any day, and I’m a happy camper. My name is Maisie Meyers.
As a writer, I am fascinated by the staying power of these stories. I mean what other genre has survived from the middle ages and is still experiencing even more growth and popularity in the modern era? There is something about these stories that draws you in, and once they sink their claws into you, they never really let you go. I’m not sure if it’s the magic that makes them so appealing, or the fact that even after hundreds of years in circulation they still hold messages that are relevant today, or maybe it is the fact that their “once upon a time” timelessness and freedom from the moorings of race, class, and culture have kept them as living breathing things in the modern era’s subconscious. Whatever the reason, it is true: they are magical in more ways than one.
So, I am currently furiously working on my Master’s Degree in English. And what’s a fairy story obsessed girl to do when faced with two years of classes in all genres of literature? Answer: hunt out all of the fairy tale elements of course.
While it is a general Master’s Degree where we focus on all literature from the medieval period to the modern era, I have decided to take my Master’s curriculum in a slightly more magical direction. Even in the modern and post-modern classes in which we study periods that revile sentimentality and the fairy tale happy-ending and ideals, I am going to look for the subtle influences that fairy tales have on different time periods of literature. I will also hunt out the original fairy tales of different countries and cultures to see what stands out all over the world.
Basically, I want to focus on fairies and princesses dammit.
And I’ve managed to succeed thus far. In my first semester I focused 5 of my 6 papers on fairy tales, and the research that I did for those projects I will build on and expand here in the blog. But first, I want to mention a few of my initial observations here…
While doing research for various papers and projects, three things stood out to me in regards to the fairy tale in literature:
- Fairy tales are not studied with the same academic rigor as other subjects (which I don’t understand because they are endemic to all cultures and are one of the earliest forms of storytelling out there)
- Fairy tales and their tropes are employed in all genres of literature (whether consciously or unconsciously, or whether to reject their teachings or to demonstrate that they are still applicable to the modern era)
- The fairy tales that we know and love are very different from their originals (Yes, we all know that Disney has taken a red pen and sanitized some of their more gruesome elements, but I am fascinated by just how gruesome the originals were)
In short, I am going to take these observations and some of the more interesting (hopefully you’ll think they’re interesting too) elements that I find as I continue in my studies and discuss/explore them here. Take a look at the Fairy Tale Blog page to see what I find next. Enjoy. 🙂