Call for papers 2/2021



Myths, Legends, and Folk and Fairy Tales in the Context of Childhood and Adolescence: Cultural Texts of the Second Decade of the 21st Century

In the late 20th and early 21st century, critics and researchers turned their attention to the growing popularity of myths, legends, and folk and fairy tales in the works for children, young adults, and adults. The fad does not seem to disappear; on the contrary, it seems to have turned into a broader and prevailing trend. Numerous comments have been made about cultural texts representing various media and language areas, such as the works of Emma Donoghue, Neil Gaiman, Andrzej Sapkowski, Jordi Sierra i Fabra, Shrek (2001); other film retellings of myths, legends, and folk and fairy tales; live-action remakes of classic Disney animations; TV series, like Merlin (2008–2012) as well as video games such as American McGee’s Grimm (2008–2009) or The Witcher series (2007–2016).

Over the past decade, new titles have been added to the list of countless and, in many cases, already classic works, including those for children and young adults. There are further retellings of classic fairy tales, like Once Upon a Dream by Liz Braswell (2016) about Sleeping Beauty, or new Disney adaptations, among others Beauty and the Beast (2017) or Aladdin (2019), and works combining mythological, legendary, folk and fairy tale themes, as exemplified in the novels by Marta Kisiel (the Małe Licho [Little Puck] series, 2018– ) and  Marcin Szczygielski (the book series about Maja, 2013–; Królowa wody [The Queen of Water], 2019) or television anthology series Tell Me a Story (2018–2020). There is no shortage of new works using the topics and props offered by myths, legends, and folk and fairy tales freely, such as the film Onward (2020). There are also books and films that are inspired by traditional stories, e.g. The House with Chicken Legs by Sophie Anderson (2020), Nić Ariadny. Mity i labirynty [Ariadne’s Thread: Myths and Labyrinths] by Jan Bajtlik (2018), Smutek mamuta. Prawie wszystkie mity świata. Rozmowy z Jędrkiem by Ewa Jałochowska [A Mammoth’s Sadness: Almost All the World’s Myths. Conversations with Jędrek] (2019), The Trials of Apollo series by Rick Riordan (2016–2020), Świątynia [The Temple] by Jakub Żulczyk (2018), a sequel to Zmorojewo (2011), as well as the animated film Moana (2016) and the TV series American Gods (2017– ), based on Gaiman’s novel. Bestiaries are another example of a successful genre, to mention Atlas of Monsters and Ghosts by Federica Magrin (2018), Księga potworów [The Book of Monsters] by Michał Rusinek (2016) or two parts of Bestiariusz słowiański [The Slavic Bestiary] by Witold Vargas and Paweł Zych (2012, 2016).

These and other cultural texts are related to myths, legends, and folk and fairy tales (understood as genres and conventions) to a varying degree. They are worthy of academic attention with reference to already existing extremely extensive studies in this area, including works such as: Twice Upon a Time: A Guide to Fractured, Altered, and Retold Folk and Fairy Tales by Catherine Bomhold and Terri E. Elder (2008), The Folkloresque: Reframing Folklore in a Popular Culture World by Michael Dylan Foster and Jeffrey A. Tolbert (2016), Fairy Tale Films: Visions of Ambiguity edited by Pauline Greenhill and Sidney Eve Matrix (2010), texts by Cristina Bacchilega, Ruth B. Bottigheimer, Juan Cervera, Donald Haase, Anna Kérchy, Stijn Praet, Maria Tatar or Jack Zipes; in Poland: Baśń postmodernistyczna: przeobrażenia gatunku. Intertekstualne gry z tradycją literacką [Postmodern Fairy Tale: Transformations of a Genre. Intertextual Play with Literary Tradition] by Weronika Kostecka (2014); Baśń w zwierciadle popkultury. Renarracje baśni ze zbioru Kinder- und Hausmärchen Wilhelma i Jakuba Grimmów w przestrzeni kultury popularnej [Fairy Tale in the Mirror of Pop Culture: Renarrations of the Tales from the Kinder- und Hausmärchen Collection by Wilhelm and Jacob Grimm in the Space of Popular Culture] by Kamila Kowalczyk (2016); two volumes of a multi-author monograph Kulturowe konteksty baśni [Cultural Contexts of the Fairy Tale] edited by Grzegorz Leszczyński; materials created as a part of Katarzyna Marciniak’s project Our Mythical Childhood... The Reception of Classical Antiquity in Children’s and Young Adults’ Culture in Response to Regional and Global Challenges (2016–2021), a series of scholarly volumes Bajka w przestrzeni naukowej i edukacyjnej [Folk Tale in the Scientific and Educational Space], as well as Słownik polskiej bajki ludowej [The Polish Folk Tale Dictionary] edited by Violetta Wróblewska; and numerous papers by Magdalena Bednarek, Anna Mik, Jolanta Ługowska, Maciej Skowera.

The next issue of “Dzieciństwo. Literatura i Kultura” will be devoted to myths, legends, and folk and fairy tales analysed against the latest methodological contexts, as well as their contemporary transformations and modern cultural texts which use the mythical or fairy tale conventions – in relation to the concept of childhood, the child figure, literature and culture of children and young adults from the second decade of the 21st century.

We find it particularly important to give floor to interpretations that take into consideration the diverse representation or criticise its absence, an area that has been neglected for a long time in the context of cultural products for children and young adults. There are a lot of renarrations of classic stories with ideological commitment, e.g., the stories by Angela Carter, Tanith Lee, or Peter Cashorali to name a few. This issue has become a subject of analysis for many scholars; Jacques Demy researches the categories of gender and class in film fairy tales (Queer Enchantments Gender, Sexuality, And Class In The Fairy-Tale Cinema, 2013), while Vanessa Joosen examines fairy tales in the context of age studies for the project Clothing and Age in Fairy Tales and their Modern Adaptations (2020–2021). Nevertheless, numerous works that have recently appeared on the market still await an analysis, such as the film The VVitch: A New-England Folktale (2016) or the book Gender Swapped Fairy Tales by Fransman Karrie and Plackett Jonathan (2020). Therefore, we welcome papers analysing myths, legends, and folk and fairy tales in the context of gender, postcolonialism, ecocriticism, migration, disability, animal studies, etc. We would like to encourage you to undertake interdisciplinary studies of various aspects connecting childhood and youth to myths, legends, and folk and fairy tales in different cultural texts targeting various audiences both in Poland and abroad. We are particularly interested in case studies, cross-section papers and papers pointing at contemporary study directions especially outside of the Anglo-Saxon culture. The topics listed below are a proposal of problems to be discussed in the issue but by no means do they exhaust the subject:

  • Contemporary retellings of myths, legends, and folk and fairy tales in children and young adult literature and culture. This includes texts which broaden the original and use transfiction to build on already existing mythological, legendary, folk or fairy tale universes.
  • Using fairy tale or mythical conventions, topics or props in texts targeted at adult audiences.
  • Child and childhood in myths, legends, and folk and fairy tales in the context of the latest developments in methodology.
  • Information, educational and popular science books for children and youth informing about old beliefs, myths, legends, and folk and fairy tales.
  • New interpretations of already studied classic stories and their latest modifications which take into consideration characters, social groups, and topics which up until recently have been marginalised. 

We also invite you to submit texts unrelated to the issue’s subject matter to our Varia and Review Articles sections.

Article submission deadline: 30 May 2021