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Craving Supernatural Creatures

German Fairy-Tale Figures in American Pop Culture

Claudia Schwabe

Fairy-Tale Studies, Popular Culture

Series in Fairy-Tale Studies

Printed Paper Cased
Published: June 2019
ISBN: 9780814346013
Pages: 344 Size: 6x9
Illustrations: 8 black-and-white images
Paperback
Published: June 2019
ISBN: 9780814341964
Pages: 344 Size: 6x9
Illustrations: 8 black-and-white images
eBOOK
Published: June 2019
ISBN: 9780814341971

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.

Claudia Schwabe is associate professor of German at Utah State University. She is also the co-editor of New Approaches to Teaching Folk and Fairy Tales and editor of The Fairy Tale and Its Uses in Contemporary New Media and Popular Culture.

Schwabe finds fairy-tale media, merchandise, and storytelling in everyday situations. Her insightful analysis demonstrates how to draw research questions directly from these observations. The accessible style makes this a compelling book for all who know these contemporary creatures, but not yet in light of diversity issues and historical contexts.

– Jill Terry Rudy, Brigham Young University

Schwabe’s unique study explores the commodification of major classical fairy tales with important insights regarding our ‘appetites’ for these stories. Her work reveals just how deeply fairy-tale figures and motifs are embedded in American culture. Moreover, her findings are highly significant for how fairy tales form the basis of most popular cultures throughout the world.

– Jack Zipes, professor emeritus, University of Minnesota

Craving Supernatural Creatures, as fun as it is smart, makes the compelling argument that recent fairy-tale media recast ideas about the Other, advocating the value of diversity. Schwabe’s purview includes American fairy-tale films, television, and other media, along with helpful backgrounding discussions of the mainly German literary antecedents. A focus on characters—automatons, golems, doppelgangers, villains, wolves, and dwarfs—means that though the author considers the usual suspects, she also extends her work to less well-known American examples, including some that might not immediately strike most people as fairy-tale inspired works.

– Pauline Greenhill, University of Winnipeg, Manitoba