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Durham University

Department of English Studies

Event Archive

This is an archive of past events within the Department of English Studies. Please see our current events for forthcoming activities.

Some of our public events are recorded and are available as podcasts via our Research English At Durham blog.

R18: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly of Traditional Folk and Fairy Tales

14th September 2011, 17:30 to 18:30, Alington House, Durham, Kaja Marczewska

A Late Summer Public Lecture by postgraduates in the Department of English Studies.

The phenomenon of fairy tales nowadays is almost synonymous with brothers Grimm and Charles Perrault. However, treating Fairy Tales as literature for children could not be further from the truth. The familiar aesthetics of ‘once upon a time’ has, for the biggest part of its existence, enjoyed a rather dubious status and bore a stain of its folk origins, deeming the tales inferior, inappropriate and often obscene. Dominated by scenes of incest, sexual innuendos and off-colour allusions, the tales were originally intended for adult audience only, functioning, as John Updike pointed out as the ‘television and pornography of [...] preliterate peoples’. By considering the role of editorial process and revision in handling sexual content and aspects of violence and horror in traditional folk and fairy tales, I will aim to discuss the changing societal norms as well as the shift from orality to literacy that gave rise to fairy tale as a genre as we know it today.

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