Wonderlands Symposium: Reading/Writing/Telling Fairy Tales & Fantasy

Last weekend I attended the Wonderlands symposium at the University of Chichester and enjoyed a day packed full of discussion and insight into the wonderful world of Fairy Tales, something that has fascinated me since my studies on the MA. It was a privilege to meet John Vernon Lord again, a Visiting Lecturer on my MA, and to hear about his work illustrating Alice in Wonderland and particularly to hear Dr Steven O’Brian performing his piece ‘The Changeling’. I can’t remember when I last heard a story told like that, by the author with the emphasis as intended, it was still haunting me the next day. So inspiring!

The morning panel with talks by Mara Alperin, Karen Graham and Jessica Miller, chaired by Ellen Cheshire lead to some interesting discussions. I was particularly drawn to Karen’s commentary on contemporary Fairy Tale adaptations and her references to the film Maleficent. I had noticed how in this film it was the true kiss of maternal type love that awoke Sleeping Beauty, rather than that of the Prince. This shift from the Prince in his role as rescuer or saviour,and his move from centre stage, has been evident in several recent Disney films (the primary source of Fairy Tales for many children today) including Brave, where the focus was on the Mother/Daughter relationship and Frozen where the focus was on the sisters. Is this truly modern feminism at work – a simple celebration of the importance of female relationships?

All in all it was a really inspiring day and it has made me determined to pursue my research in this area. Thank you to the Sussex Centre for Folklore, Fairy Tales & Fantasy for a really great day.

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