"The Brothers Grimm and the folktale: narrations, readings, transformations", Athens, 22 - 24 November 2012

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Organized by the Faculty of Philology of National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, the Department of History, Archaeology and Social Anthropology of the University of Thessaly and the Department of Primary Education of the University of the Aegean

Celebrating the bicentennial anniversary of the publication of the Brothers Grimm's Kinder- und Hausmarchen, the question we can ask is why their stories still have a great impact on the imagination of contemporary children and adults around the world. Older and recent folk and fairy tale research has raised awareness about the universal and multi-dimensional role of this collection in its historical and political context as well as its uses today, in shaping contemporary cultural representations and identities. Issues currently explored include: the agents, means of diffusion and new fairy tale audiences; the role of the Brothers Grimm in the "invention" of tradition and the interest for the collection of folktales from the mouth of the "simple folk" in 19th century Europe; the appropriation of their tales during the last two centuries in literature, art and modern popular and mass culture. Since their collection was the first to be addressed primarily to children, folktale researchers dealt with issues concerning the use of their tales in school and educational environments as well as the connection of these tales with children, childhood and childlike worlds. Consequently, these seemingly timeless and magic stories are now acknowledged as part of cultural history, shaped by the traditions of those who narrate, read or transform them in different ways.
Nevertheless, Brothers Grimm's collection is a landmark in a continuous international narrative tradition. Taking into consideration this transformative dynamism of the folktale, contemporary folktale research focuses on such varied themes, as is the presence of the folktale in the ancient world, as well as the evolution of the folktales in living folklore systems and the study of micro-data from regional or local oral cultures.
The conference seeks to explore, through these changing traditions, the multi-dimensional reception and study of the folktale from the time of the publication of the Brothers Grimm's collection until today. Thus we hope tocontinue a discussion on theoretical and methodological issues that concern the study of folk and fairy tales and contribute further to our knowledge about their role in constituting facets of past and present cultural identities, pedagogical practices, perceptions about folk culture and perceptions about children and childhood. We also may ask, to what extend, in our era, the increasingly professionalized psychological and educational scientific fields influenced ideas and mentalities about the relation of children with folk and fairy tales.