- Preface to the Special Issue in Honor of Donald Haase
It gives me great pleasure to write the preface to this special issue of Marvels & Tales dedicated to the work of Donald Haase. I was fortunate enough to be taken under Don’s wing upon my arrival at Wayne State University in the fall of 1999, and I have had the opportunity to collaborate with him on various projects ever since. Through his editorial work on Marvels & Tales, the Wayne State University Press Series in Fairy-Tale Studies, and his anthologies and encyclopedia work, Haase has contributed to the field of fairy-tale studies in so many ways. One important way has been his encouragement of a new and upcoming generation of fairy-tale scholars, including Vanessa Joosen and Jeana Jorgensen, both of whom have essays in this volume. With his impeccable editorial skills and theoretical finesse, Haase has provided innumerable opportunities for scholars to explore new areas of research in the field through his edited volumes The Reception of the Grimms’ Fairy Tales: Responses, Reactions, Revisions (1993) and Fairy Tales and Feminism: New Approaches (2004), as well as through innovative special issues of Marvels & Tales, including “Erotic Tales” (2008) and most recently “The Fairy Tale in Japan” (2013) with guest editor Marc Sebastian-Jones. Finally, Haase has been able to internationalize his important and much needed work on the interrelationship between folklore and literary studies through his involvement in various advisory boards, including the Sussex Centre for Folklore, Fairy Tales, and Fantasy, and in his capacity as the vice-president representing North America for the International Society for Folk Narrative Research.
A comparatist at heart, Haase’s earliest publications straddle the fairy-tale traditions of nineteenth-century Germany and France. Haase has been interested [End Page 15] in questions related to reception from his earliest work, evident in his studies concerning the reception of German Romantic writers, most notably Novalis, in France and in the works of French writer Gérard de Nerval. The ways in which tales and writers cross borders is foregrounded in his work on what Haase has dubbed the “exile märchen,” that is, tales written by German émigrés such as Thomas Theodor Heine, who fled Germany with the rise of National Socialism. In related work Haase examines the function of the fairy tale as it relates to war and trauma in pieces dealing with war, children, and the Holocaust. Haase also has had a long-standing interest in filmic and television adaptations of fairy tales.
Whether discussing the Grimms or fairy-tale films, Haase has been insistent on the need to problematize the conception of folktales and fairy tales as ageless expressions of universal truths whose authentic roots reside with the folk. This problematization comes in various forms. For instance, in his piece “Yours, Mine, or Ours? Perrault, the Brothers Grimm, and the Ownership of Fairy Tales,” Haase criticizes the notion of the folktale or fairy tale as “national property” or the property of “a single group” (Classic Fairy Tales, 355). In the introduction to The Reception of the Grimms’ Fairy Tales, Haase opens with a most untraditional incarnation of “Hansel and Gretel” in the experimental art of Laurie Anderson in order to demonstrate that “Hansel and Gretel—along with other fairy-tale characters—may live on, but they do not always play the parts given them by the Grimms” (Reception, 9). And for Haase that’s okay. Every new incarnation of a particular tale—good or bad, artistic or consumer driven—“reflects the specific values of its creator” or creators (“Gold into Straw,” 193). As such, Haase can both accept the Disney film as a legitimate iteration of a fairy tale and criticize it for its ideological impact without, however, resorting to notions of source, folk, or authenticity, because such concepts potentially delegitimize any modernizing or experimental use of folktales and fairy tales.
Such theorizing of the genre takes interesting shape in two pieces that challenge the stability and understanding of folktale and fairy-tale texts. In “Hypertextual Gutenberg: The Textual and Hypertextual Life of Folktales and Fairy Tales in English-Language Popular Print Editions,” Haase discusses the ways...