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Transgressive Tales

Queering the Grimms

Edited by Kay Turner and Pauline Greenhill

Fairy-Tale Studies, Gender, Women's Studies, Literary Criticism and Theory, Folklore

Series in Fairy-Tale Studies

Published: October 2012
ISBN: 9780814334812
Pages: 368 Size: 6x9
Illustrations: 50 black and white images
Published: October 2012
ISBN: 9780814338100

Not only do these dazzling readings reclaim the fairy tale as emphatically queer but, perhaps even more importantly, they make an important argument for why queer studies scholars should rediscover the fairy tale's versions of gender and sexuality as the stuff of magic and enchantment.

— Ann Cvetkovich

The stories in the Grimm brothers' Kinder- und Hausmärchen (Children's and Household Tales), first published in 1812 and 1815, have come to define academic and popular understandings of the fairy tale genre. Yet over a period of forty years, the brothers, especially Wilhelm, revised, edited, sanitized, and bowdlerized the tales, publishing the seventh and final edition in 1857 with many of the sexual implications removed. However, the contributors in Transgressive Tales: Queering the Grimms demonstrate that the Grimms and other collectors paid less attention to ridding the tales of non-heterosexual implications and that, in fact, the Grimms' tales are rich with queer possibilities.

Editors Kay Turner and Pauline Greenhill introduce the volume with an overview of the tales' literary and interpretive history, surveying their queerness in terms of not just sex, gender and sexuality, but also issues of marginalization, oddity, and not fitting into society. In three thematic sections, contributors then consider a range of tales and their queer themes. In Faux Femininities, essays explore female characters, and their relationships and feminine representation in the tales. Contributors to Revising Rewritings consider queer elements in rewritings of the Grimms' tales, including Angela Carter's The Bloody Chamber, Jeanette Winterson's Twelve Dancing Princesses, and contemporary reinterpretations of both "Snow White" and "Snow White and Rose Red." Contributors in the final section, Queering the Tales, consider queer elements in some of the Grimms' original tales and explore intriguing issues of gender, biology, patriarchy, and transgression.

With the variety of unique perspectives in Transgressive Tales, readers will find new appreciation for the lasting power of the fairy-tale genre. Scholars of fairy-tale studies and gender and sexuality studies will enjoy this thought-provoking volume.

Kay Turner is adjunct professor of performance studies at New York University, teaching courses on oral narrative theory and queer theory, with an emphasis on the fairy tale. She is also Folk Arts Director at the Brooklyn Arts Council. Her other books include Beautiful Necessity: The Art and Meaning of Women's Altars and Baby Precious Always Shines: Love Notes Between Alice B. Toklas and Gertrude Stein.

Pauline Greenhill is professor of women's and gender studies at the University of Winnipeg. Her most recent books are Make the Night Hideous: Four English-Canadian Charivaris, 1881-1940; Fairy Tale Films: Visions of Ambiguity (with Sidney Eve Matrix, co-editor); and Encyclopedia of Women's Folklore and Folklife (with Liz Locke and Theresa Vaughan, co-editors).

Contributors: Emilie Anderson-Grégoire, Cristina Bacchilega, Anita Best, Joy Brooke Fairfield, Andrew J. Friedenthal, Kevin Goldstein, Pauline Greenhill, Bettina Hutschek, Jeana Jorgensen, Kimberly J. Lau, Elliot Gordon Mercer, Margaret A. Mills, Jennifer Orme, Catherine Tosenberger, Kay Turner, Margaret R. Yocom

Contributors Include:
Andrew J. Friedenthal, Anita Best, Bettina Hutschek, Catherine Tosenberger, Cristina Bacchilega, Elliot Gordon Mercer, Emilie Anderson-Gregoire, Jeana Jorgensen, Jennifer Orme, Joy Brooke Fairfield, Kevin Goldstein, Kimberly J. Lau, Margaret A. Mills, Margaret R. Yocum

If the brothers Grimm were alive today, they would be astonished to read the essays in Transgressive Tales and to learn why their tales still have great appeal. Kay Turner and Pauline Greenhill have brought together thirteen highly provocative essays that explore the queerness of the Grimms' tales and how contemporary writers and critics have mined their strange stories to bring the lesbian, homosexual, transgendered, and transbiological implications out of the closet. Based on close reading of texts and thorough historical scholarship, the essays in this book convincingly demonstrate why the Grimms' tales remain so reinvigorating and relevant throughout our dramatically changing world.

– Jack Zipes, professor emeritus, University of Minnesota

As a whole, this collection of essays destabilizes our understanding of the Grimms' Kinder-und Hausmärchen as a patriarchal, heteronormative collection of tales by focusing on those tales that do not conform to this apparent agenda, and by re-evaluating tales that apparently do by signaling moments of resistance to and subversion of the heteronormative plot.

– Anne E. Duggan, associate professor of French and director of the Gender, Sexuality, and Women's Studies Program at Wayne State University

Transgressive Tales gives us the fairy tale we suspected was there all along-perverse, sexy, and gynocentric. Not only do these dazzling readings reclaim the fairy tale as emphatically queer but, perhaps even more importantly, they make an important argument for why queer studies scholars should rediscover the fairy tale's versions of gender and sexuality as the stuff of magic and enchantment.

– Ann Cvetkovich, Garwood Centennial Professor of English and professor of women’s and gender studies at the University of Texas, Austin

[. . .] the analyses offered show a great deal of insight and creativity, and this is an exacting, irreverent, imaginative compendium that will prove valuable to those interested in the Grimms, gender theory, or any permutation thereof.

– B. Stu Burns, Folklorica