In addition to messages about the importance of beauty, the researchers also are concerned that fairy tales' messages of how looks can label a person as good or bad are harmful to children. For example, evil was associated with ugly in 17 percent of the stories. In many tales, ugly people were punished.
"Fairy tales are important historically because they provide children with information about a certain period," Baker-Sperry says. "What they don't do is provide positive images about groups who are not white, middle-class or heterosexual.
Grauerholz and Baker-Sperry examined 168 Brothers Grimm fairy tales. These stories were written by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm in the 1800s and were used in central Europe to teach children the roles boys and girls should play, as well as what it means to be good or bad. Of the tales analyzed, 43 percent have been reproduced in children's books or movies.
is a compilation of eleven essays that focus on conventional fairytale research and gender, some of which have been updated for this book. These include six essays previously published in (2000:14/1) by Bottigheimer, Seifert, Blackwell, Wanning Harries, and Stone, in addition to a revised article by Haring, and other contributions by Odber de Baubeta, Mackintosh, Bacchilega, and Preston. The contributors to the present volume are in the field of folktale and fairytale studies, literary and oral, and share a common ground in feminist scholarship.
The title, as Haase explains, mirrors Karen E. Rowe’s overview, “Feminism and Fairy Tales,” which appeared in 1979. Since the 1970s, feminist fairytale research has developed substantially, as demonstrated by the content of these essays. The essays go beyond the “classical” representations of stereotypical gender roles. By focusing on complex issues of text and context, they take feminist scholarship into a new and complex domain of analysis.
In terms of time span and generic foci, the examples range from sixteenth-century texts to modern cinema and film. The book also goes beyond linguistic borders, as the editor emphasizes the need to study the less-studied tales of the non-Western and non-Anglo-American world, complaining that too many studies suffer from “a disciplinary myopia—from having overlooked relevant scholarship, often because it lies beyond the limits of a given discipline or linguistic ability” (ix). Haase is apt in his observations and he does a thorough job in bringing diversity in terms of disciplines and geographic areas. The authors reconsider the fairytale in French, German, and Anglo-American texts and contexts, and also present examples from African, Indian Ocean, Iberian, Latin American, Indo-Anglian, and South Asian tale traditions. However, Eurocenticism is not so easy to escape. For example, Latin America can be viewed as the margin of the Western world. Moreover, when viewed from the East, there is still so much to cover in terms of linguistic and geographic diversity. The international reader wishes for a sequel that would present examples from the less-covered areas of the world, including the Middle East, the Balkans, and the Far East, to complement the readings in the present volume. Nonetheless, I applaud the editor for expanding the geographical and linguistic limits of fairytale scholarship.
She was one of “the most prolific and influential author [of the genre]… She published four volumes of fairy tales [which] were translated into English in 1699.
The articles in the present volume take the fairytales and folktales from their frozen textual domain and explore them in the domain of intertextualities, performances, and agencies in the modern sense. The book has many facets, particularly its interdisciplinarity. Some essays are inclined more towards literature and philology, while others are more attuned to anthropology, considering the tales in the framework of migration, creolization, and transnationalism. Articles by Haase, Haring, and Bacchilega are gems for folklorists. From their own scholarly viewpoints, they present the complexities in feminist fairytale research. The extensive bibliography at the end of the book is a great resource for students and scholars in the field, as it references the cornerstones of feminist fairytale research.
Latin American folktales are represented by Patricia Anne Odber de Baubeta and Fiona Mackintosh. While Odber de Baubeta concentrates on the intertextual techniques in Iberian and Latin American women’s writings, Mackintosh takes up the roles fairytales in twentieth-century Argentine women’s writings. And Cathy Lynn Preston, focusing on the use of folktales in jokes, films, and new media, argues that these new forms are useful in understanding the boundaries of gender and genre through which fairytales’ generic identity becomes all the more unstable.
This study advances understanding of how a normative feminine beauty ideal is maintained through cultural products such as fairy tales. Using Brothers Grimm's fairy tales, the authors explore the extent and ways in which "feminine beauty" is highlighted. Next, they compare those tales that have survived (e.g., Cinderella, Snow White, Sleeping Beauty) with those that have not to determine whether tales that have been popularized place more emphasis on women's beauty. The findings suggest that feminine beauty is a dominant theme and that tales with heavy emphases on feminine beauty are much more likely to have survived. These findings are interpreted in light of changes in women's social status over the past 150 years and the increased importance of establishing forms of normative social control to maintain a gender system.
Each version of "Snow White," no matter how different the surface details, shares several factors in common that are central to the way gender is described and used in so many Western fairytales: The heroine has a wondrous origin, she is innocent, she is persecuted at the hands of a jealous older woman, she is apparently killed (or dies) and she is then resurrected (Bacchilega, 1997, p.
Liz Grauerholz, associate professor of sociology at Purdue University, studied how beauty is written about in fairy tales and whether stories with beautiful princesses are more likely to be popular. Grauherholz and Lori Baker-Sperry, an assistant professor of women's studies at Western Illinois University and a former Purdue graduate student, examined 168 Brothers Grimm fairy tales to evaluate how beauty is portrayed in the storylines. (Purdue News Service photo/David Umberger)