Saturday, April 3, 2010

Call for Papers: Anti-Tales: The Uses of Disenchantment

Anti-Tales: The Uses of Disenchantment

Call for Papers

“…most intellectual development depends upon new readings of old texts. I am all for putting new wine in old bottles, especially if the pressure of the new wine makes the old bottles explode…” - Angela Carter

An interdisciplinary research forum and subsequent publication of proceedings (Cambridge Scholars Publishing) based around the currently under-researched notion of the "anti-tale" to be held at the University of Glasgow, Thursday 12th - Friday 13th August 2010. Our confirmed plenary speaker is Dr. Anna Kérchy (Senior Assistant Professor, University of Szeged), and our resident artists will include Robert Powell (Edinburgh College of Art).

The anti-fairy tale has long existed as a shadow of the traditional fairy tale genre. First categorized as the "antimärchen" in Andre Jolles’ seminal Einfache Formen (c.1930), the anti-tale was found to be contemporaneous with even the oldest known examples of fairy tale collections. Rarely an outward opposition to the traditional form itself, the anti-tale takes aspects of the fairy tale genre and re-imagines, subverts, inverts, deconstructs or satirizes elements of them to present an alternate narrative interpretation, outcome or morality. Red Riding Hood may elope with the wolf. Or Bluebeard’s wife is not interested in his secret chamber. Snow White’s stepmother gives her own account of events and Cinderella does not exactly find the prince charming. The anti-fairy tale takes many forms. Some revisit and deconstruct familiar narratives (as above) or formulate new stories, characters and ever-afters, relying on and subverting familiar archetypes and plot devices. Following Jolles’ seminal, respected text, the subgenre of the anti-tale has become dominant, as writers such as Angela Carter, Neil Gaiman and Phillip Pullman, artists such as Kiki Smith, Anna Gaskell and Kara Walker, and filmmakers such as Matthew Bright and Jane Campion have produced a diverse collage of anti-tales. However, despite this creative surge, there has not been adequately attendant academic engagement with the genre. Respected academics such as Wolfgang Meider, John Pizer, Jack Zipes and Cristina Bacchilega, have all touched on the concept without developing it further – the concept being outside the parameters of their usual research interests. Following our current use, revival and redefinition of Jolles’ nomenclature we invite others to consider their research material through the critical lens of the anti-tale. We believe the concept to be exciting and under-developed, and that this project will stimulate a rich new investigative field of study.

This project is interdisciplinary in its scope, and our call goes out to a diverse range of disciplines including, but not limited to, scholars and students from: Literature, History of Art, Media/ Film Studies, Psychology, Creative Writing, Music. Our call for new research on "anti-tales" is intended to provoke creative, imaginative responses, though we are particularly interested in contributions on the following topics:

• The use of the anti-tale and disenchantment in children’s and/or adult’s literature
• Rewritings/ re-readings of the fairy tale
• Narrative voice in anti-tales; authorship and authority
• Dialogues between the creative and the critical
• Morality versus immorality
• Feminist interpretations
• Decolonizing the fairy tale; culture versus anti-culture? Context and politics
• New perspectives: new writers, new illustrators
• Pedagogy (lessons unlearnt)
• After “ever after”?

Please email abstracts of 300 words (max.) for 20 minute papers and C.V. to David Calvin (University of Ulster) and Catriona McAra (University of Glasgow): by 30th April 2010.

The website should be up and running in the next few weeks at

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