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Mapping Fairy-Tale Space

Pastiche and Metafiction in Borderless Tales

Christy Williams

Fairy-Tale Studies, Literary Criticism and Theory, Media Studies

The Donald Haase Series in Fairy-Tale Studies

Printed Paper Cased
Published: April 2021
ISBN: 9780814348277
Pages: 216 Size: 6x9
Illustrations: 9 black-and-white images
$92.99
Paperback
Published: April 2021
ISBN: 9780814343838
Pages: 216 Size: 6x9
Illustrations: 9 black-and-white images
$32.99
eBOOK
Published: April 2021
ISBN: 9780814343845

Mapping Fairy-Tale Space: Pastiche and Metafiction in Borderless Tales by Christy Williams uses the metaphor of mapping to examine the narrative strategies employed in popular twenty-first-century fairy tales. It analyzes the television shows Once Upon a Time and Secret Garden (a Korean drama), the young-adult novel series The Lunar Chronicles, the Indexing serial novels, and three experimental short works of fiction by Kelly Link. Some of these texts reconfigure well-known fairy tales by combining individual tales into a single storyworld; others self-referentially turn to fairy tales for guidance. These contemporary tales have at their center a crisis about the relevance and sustainability of fairy tales, and Williams argues that they both engage the fairy tale as a relevant genre and remake it to create a new kind of fairy tale.

Mapping Fairy-Tale Space is divided into two parts. Part 1 analyzes fairy-tale texts that collapse multiple distinct fairy tales so they inhabit the same storyworld, transforming the fairy-tale genre into a fictional geography of borderless tales. Williams examines the complex narrative restructuring enabled by this form of mash-up and expands postmodern arguments to suggest that fairy-tale pastiche is a critical mode of retelling that celebrates the fairy-tale genre while it critiques outdated ideological constructs. Part 2 analyzes the metaphoric use of fairy tales as maps, or guides, for lived experience. In these texts, characters use fairy tales both to navigate and to circumvent their own situations, but the tales are ineffectual maps until the characters chart different paths and endings for themselves or reject the tales as maps altogether. Williams focuses on how inventive narrative and visual storytelling techniques enable metafictional commentary on fairy tales in the texts themselves.

Mapping Fairy-Tale Space argues that in remaking the fairy-tale genre, these texts do not so much chart unexplored territory as they approach existing fairy-tale space from new directions, remapping the genre as our collective use of fairy tales changes. Students and scholars of fairy-tale and media studies will welcome this fresh approach.

Christy Williams is associate professor of English at Hawai’i Pacific University. She is co-editor of Beyond Adaptation: Essays on Radical Transformations of Original Works.

Mapping Fairy-Tale Space brilliantly synthesizes and expands crucial ideas of connection and relatability that enliven contemporary fairy tales. Christy Williams offers fairy-tale studies a compelling gift that rewards attentive engagement. Fans and scholars need this book.

– Jill Terry Rudy, Brigham Young University

Mapping Fairy-Tale Space is an exciting book. Williams guides us skillfully through contemporary fairy-tale landscapes, exploring their storyworlds’ geography and tracing the continued appeal of the genre ‘as a map for lived experience.’ As she traces metafictional critiques and narrative strategies that popular fairy tales in print and on TV share, Williams invites us to revisit the practices of seriality and pastiche in relation to fairy tale and to recognize how opening up narrative borders revitalizes the genre. Richly layered, persuasive, and insightful, this is a study I will keep returning to.

– Cristina Bacchilega, co-editor of Inviting Interruptions: Wonder Tales in the Twenty-First Century (Wayne State University Press, 2021)

Christy Williams’s book demonstrates her expert, expansive knowledge of fairy tales and their criticism as well as their role in popular and literary culture. This writing is lively and accessible yet sophisticated in its theoretical understanding of narrative and its interactions with geography. Williams is the first critic to bring such an erudite lens to some of the most popular recent incarnations of the classic fairy tales, such as Disney’s Once Upon a Time, and her analysis is invigorating. Her understanding of how narrative creates geography and how connections across borders create narrative is welcome food for thought in these times.

– Veronica Schanoes, author of Fairy Tales, Myth, and Psychoanalytic Theory: Feminism and Retelling the Tale

Mapping Fairy-Tale Space is a fascinating study that reconceptualizes fairy tales as geographical locations that can be mapped out and that can also have borders artificially imposed upon them. It illustrates how the paths fairy-tale characters follow, the trails of breadcrumbs they take, function as life maps that guide them and which they also contest. Each chapter adeptly showcases fairy-tale texts in which storyworld boundaries are challenged, collapsed, and stretched to accommodate new meanings in new sociohistorical contexts. Christy Williams provides us with an exciting and dynamic theoretical framework to rethink the fairy tale in terms of narrative geographies.

– Anne E. Duggan, professor of French at Wayne State University and co-editor of Marvels and Tales: Journal of Fairy-Tale Studies (Wayne State University Press)