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Fairy Tales Transformed?

Twenty-First-Century Adaptations and the Politics of Wonder

Cristina Bacchilega

Publication Year: 2013

Fairy-tale adaptations are ubiquitous in modern popular culture, but readers and scholars alike may take for granted the many voices and traditions folded into today's tales. In Fairy Tales Transformed?: Twenty-First-Century Adaptations and the Politics of Wonder, accomplished fairy-tale scholar Cristina Bacchilega traces what she terms a "fairy-tale web" of multivocal influences in modern adaptations, asking how tales have been changed by and for the early twenty-first century. Dealing mainly with literary and cinematic adaptations for adults and young adults, Bacchilega investigates the linked and yet divergent social projects these fairy tales imagine, their participation and competition in multiple genre and media systems, and their relation to a politics of wonder that contests a naturalized hierarchy of Euro-American literary fairy tale over folktale and other wonder genres. Bacchilega begins by assessing changes in contemporary understandings and adaptations of the Euro-American fairy tale since the 1970s, and introduces the fairy-tale web as a network of reading and writing practices with a long history shaped by forces of gender politics, capitalism, and colonialism. In the chapters that follow, Bacchilega considers a range of texts, from high profile films like Disney's Enchanted, Guillermo del Toro's Pan's Labyrinth, and Catherine Breillat's Bluebeard to literary adaptations like Nalo Hopkinson's Skin Folk, Emma Donoghue's Kissing the Witch, and Bill Willingham's popular comics series, Fables. She looks at the fairy-tale web from a number of approaches, including adaptation as "activist response" in Chapter 1, as remediation within convergence culture in Chapter 2, and a space of genre mixing in Chapter 3. Chapter 4 connects adaptation with issues of translation and stereotyping to discuss mainstream North American adaptations of The Arabian Nights as "media text" in post-9/11 globalized culture. Bacchilega's epilogue invites scholars to intensify their attention to multimedia fairy-tale traditions and the relationship of folk and fairy tales with other cultures' wonder genres. Scholars of fairy-tale studies will enjoy Bacchilega's significant new study of contemporary adaptations.

Published by: Wayne State University Press

Series: Series in Fairy-Tale Studies

Title Page, Series Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. ix-x

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Introduction. The Fairy-Tale Web: Intertextual and Multimedial Practices in Globalized Culture, a Geopolitics of Inequality, and (Un) Predictable Links

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pp. 1-30

In 2005 the Bloomingdale’s holiday window display in New York City featured eight popular fairy-tale scenes, ranging from “Cinderella” to “Aladdin.” Highlights of what in that context was a mixed bag of traditions—narrative, festive, commercial, and touristic—remain viewable on About.com Travel to New York City Guide as a series of ten images. The “Cinderella” scene is tagged “Imagine...

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1. Activist Responses: Adaptation, Remediation, and Relocation

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pp. 31-72

What is “adaptation”? And what does conceptualizing it to approach a fairy-tale web of reading and writing practices enable?
Experientially, we know we are dealing with an adaptation when in reading, listening to, or viewing a narrative text we recognize its close resemblance with, or immediately connect it with, another text, at the same time that we acknowledge...

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2. Double Exposures: Reading (in) Fairy-Tale Films

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pp. 73-108

In the twenty-first century, we tell, receive, retell, reject, recall, look for stories, and are touched, surprised, repelled, inspired, and mobilized by them in what Henry Jenkins has described as convergence culture, “where old and new media collide, where grassroots and corporate media intersect, where the power of the...

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3. Fairy-Tale Remix in Film: Genres, Histories, and Economies

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pp. 109-142

While folklorists often define the fairy tale as transporting us to a storyworld where the supernatural is never questioned and the audience’s absolute suspension of disbelief is required, recent fairy-tale films seem to thrive on blurring the boundaries of and raising questions about the relationship between fantasy and reality. Some fairy-tale films have also relocated fairy tales and their heroines...

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4. Resituating The Arabian Nights: Challenges and Promises of Translation

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pp. 143-188

[Scheherazade] avait un courage au-dessus de son sexe, de l’esprit infiniment avec une pénétration admirable. Elle avait beaucoup de lecture et une mémoire si prodigieuse, que rien ne lui était échappé de tout ce...

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Epilogue: The Politics of Wonder

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pp. 189-202

You probably know this tale, but it’s worth retelling.
One winter, when the snow was deep, a poor boy had to go outside with his sled to gather wood. After he had finally collected enough wood and had piled it on his sled, he was so frozen he decided not to go home right away. He thought he would instead make a fire to warm himself up a bit. So he began scraping the snow away, and as...


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pp. 203-244

Works Cited

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pp. 245-270


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pp. 271-274


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pp. 275-286


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pp. 287-290

E-ISBN-13: 9780814339282
Print-ISBN-13: 9780814334874

Page Count: 296
Illustrations: 65
Publication Year: 2013

Series Title: Series in Fairy-Tale Studies