Fiction Writers (1960 to the Present) and Their Use of Fairy Tales (Sept. 30, 2009; NeMLA April 7-11, 2010)

full name / name of organization: 
Charles Cullum / NeMLA
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How and why do fiction writers from the explosively experimental period of 1960 to the present use (subvert, disturb) the seemingly conventional form of the fairy tale? Both American and international writers are drawn to fairy tales. One approach to fairy tales is taken by American metafictionists, who find in them rich mythic patterns to disrupt in order to promote new and different constructions of meaning. Robert Coover, for instance, makes fairy tales the basis of a number of his fictions. In Pricksongs and Descants, Coover plays with characters and motifs from tales about Jack the Giant Killer, Little Red Riding Hood, Beauty and the Beast, and Hansel and Gretel in an exploration of human impulses toward sex, violence, and creativity itself. Donald Barthelme, in Snow White, re-imagines the seven dwarfs and the title character living in a commune and dealing with the "trash" phenomena of pop culture. Other writers take decidedly feminist approaches to fairy tales. Margaret Atwood, for example, seeks to locate the strong, intelligent female agency of the originary tales. And Angela Carter reaches back to seventeenth century Italian fairy tales in her effort to establish a counterdiscourse to the conditions of enclosure faced by women. Still other writers create their own mythic motifs. Garcia Marquez, for example, imagines fairy tales with his particular type of magic that extends the range of possibilities of earth and humanity. Salmon Rushdie combines and embellishes fairy tales at the intersection of the eastern and western traditions. This panel, then, will explore writers' reworkings of classic or existing tales, their creation of new tales, and the overarching issue of how the ethos of the time period and the fairy tale genre interrelate. Please send 250-500 word abstract to Charles Cullum

Deadline: September 30, 2009

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