Tuesday, June 4, 2019

New Book: Craving Supernatural Creatures: German Fairy-Tale Figures in American Pop Culture by Claudia Schwabe

Craving Supernatural Creatures: German Fairy-Tale Figures in American Pop Culture (Fairy-Tale Studies) by Claudia Schwabe is officially released this week.

The book description below describes the book exceptionally well. As I thumbed through the review copy I received, I appreciated all over again the influence of German folklore on American pop culture. I especially liked for my own personal interests the 2nd chapter on evil queens and witches and the 4th chapter on dwarves. Disney's influence is addressed here, too, for those who study Disney fairy tales. Those Disney dwarfs! When I first started SurLaLune when the internet was in its toddler stage, I was inundated with requests for the seven dwarfs names every day. The internet has grown past my site being needed to answer that question but it reminds me of how much the online information highway has changed since I started playing on it.

Book description:

Craving Supernatural Creatures: German Fairy-Tale Figures in American Pop Culture analyzes supernatural creatures in order to demonstrate how German fairy tales treat difference, alterity, and Otherness with terror, distance, and negativity, whereas contemporary North American popular culture adaptations navigate diversity by humanizing and redeeming such figures. This trend of transformation reflects a greater tolerance of other marginalized groups (in regard to race, ethnicity, ability, age, gender, sexual orientation, social class, religion, etc.) and acceptance of diversity in society today. The fairy-tale adaptations examined here are more than just twists on old stories-they serve as the looking glasses of significant cultural trends, customs, and social challenges. Whereas the fairy-tale adaptations that Claudia Schwabe analyzes suggest that Otherness can and should be fully embraced, they also highlight the gap that still exists between the representation and the reality of embracing diversity wholeheartedly in twenty-first-century America.

The book's four chapters are structured around different supernatural creatures, beginning in chapter 1 with Schwabe's examination of the automaton, the golem, and the doppelganger, which emerged as popular figures in Germany in the early nineteenth century, and how media, such as Edward Scissorhands and Sleepy Hollow, dramatize, humanize, and infantilize these "uncanny" characters in multifaceted ways. Chapter 2 foregrounds the popular figures of the evil queen and witch in contemporary retellings of the Grimms' fairy tale "Snow White." Chapter 3 deconstructs the concept of the monstrous Other in fairy tales by scrutinizing the figure of the Big Bad Wolf in popular culture, including Once Upon a Time and the Fables comic book series. In chapter 4, Schwabe explores the fairy-tale dwarf, claiming that adaptations today emphasize the diversity of dwarves' personalities and celebrate the potency of their physicality.

Craving Supernatural Creatures is a unique contribution to the field of fairy-tale studies and is essential reading for students, scholars, and pop-culture aficionados alike.