Prof. Dr. Maren Conrad (Picture: FAU/Georg Pöhlein)

Prof. Dr. Maren Conrad shares her ideas on trendy fairy tales and the place we will discover them

‘As soon as upon a time…’ If a textual content begins with these phrases, there may be little doubt within the reader’s thoughts that it’s a fairy story. Fairy tales are classed as cultural heritage, many individuals affiliate them with childhood recollections, and but they’re usually criticised for conveying clichés and outdated function fashions. Is there nonetheless a spot for fairy tales within the trendy world? What are the traits of a contemporary fairy story? We met Prof. Dr. Maren Conrad, Professor of recent German literature with a give attention to literature for kids and younger adults at FAU, to debate these and different questions.

Prof. Conrad, why will we so take pleasure in studying and listening to fairy tales?

Fairly merely: fairy tales make us completely happy. Conventional fairy tales, similar to these from the Brothers Grimm, are slightly darkish and menacing at instances, however they all the time have a cheerful ending. That is extraordinarily priceless in our more and more advanced trendy world.

What’s the distinction between conventional fairy tales and trendy fairy tales?

The principle distinction is actually the shape that they take. Historically, fairy tales began out as people tales handed on orally, earlier than literary tales began to be written down in books. These days, fairy tales can take the type of movies, image books, audio books, sequence, interactive exhibitions, comics or pc video games. Nonetheless, on the finish of the day they nonetheless observe the sample of quick tales within the custom of the Brothers Grimm and their contemporaries: Good prevails ultimately.

Which subjects do trendy fairy tales take care of and why?

The core message of fairy tales is actually timeless, even within the instances of the Brothers Grimm fairy tales have been supposed to coach. They take care of our primal fears, that are mirrored by Hänsel and Gretel simply as they’re by Harry Potter, they usually all the time current us with heroines and heroes who overcome challenges and are richly awarded consequently. Fashionable fairy tales increase on this sample. A contemporary youngster, for instance, is much less involved with discovering their manner out of the forest however extra anxious about getting good marks in school.

Nonetheless, the central values of affection, faithfulness, kindness, bravery and humanity stay unchanged. New values which have been added embrace independence and individuality, tolerance and variety, schooling and significant pondering – points which have gotten increasingly more vital in at the moment’s society.

Scandinavian fairy tales appear to be forward of their instances: the tales concerning the robust and fiercely unbiased lady Pippi Longstocking, for instance, have been revealed within the 1940’s. Do fairy tales there nonetheless are usually extra progressive?

Completely. In Scandinavia, variety, intersectionality and inclusion have a central function to play, notably in school and nursery, and that is mirrored within the literature from these nations. Astrid Lindgren clearly set an instance. It’s notably attention-grabbing when you think about that this perspective is definitely inspired from a political standpoint. An essay by my colleague Karina Brehm exhibits, for instance, {that a} gender-neutral pronoun has been launched and is utilized in youngsters’s books.

(Picture: colourbox)

Nonetheless, whether or not a narrative may be classed as a contemporary fairy story relies upon not solely on the subjects it covers, but additionally the shape it takes. Are you able to give us some examples?

Fairy tales are particular in that there isn’t a restrict to the extent to which they are often modified. Mainly, they’re a selected sort of story which incorporates sure recurring motives and character varieties. These are mixed in plenty of alternative ways in trendy fairy tales, even when the subjects they take care of are fairly totally different. Fairy story motives come up many times in common tradition. Whether or not you think about Germany’s Subsequent High Mannequin, Sport of Thrones or the Superman comics, you’ll discover that plenty of typical fairy story motives similar to princesses, witches or dragons are used and remoulded to turn out to be fairy tales geared toward trendy adults.

To what extent can a pc recreation be a fairy story?

The truth that pc video games are interactive truly makes them notably properly suited to this style. Like trendy Scandinavian fairy tales, pc video games are a contemporary medium which has the potential to be progressive and permit variety. For instance, the Goethe Institute presents fairy tales as a pc recreation by which youngsters must determine themselves whether or not the princess ought to save the dragon from the evil stepmother, or the dragon the step mom from the evil princess, or a special story line altogether. And did we not all wish to act out fairy tales after we have been youngsters?

In spring 2020, Prof. Dr. Maren Conrad revealed a collective quantity with tutorial articles from a lecture sequence she organised on the subject of recent fairy tales entitled ‘Fashionable Fairy Tales. Well-liked Variations in Fashionable Types of Literature and Media in Right now’s Youth Tradition.’

Additional data

Prof. Dr. Maren Conrad
Junior professorship for contemporary German literature with a give attention to literature for kids and younger adults
Telephone +49 9131 8522908
[email protected]


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