No longer only in the woods: Rhetoric and ritualized structure in fairy tales

by Culver, Jennifer Lynn, Ph.D., THE UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS AT DALLAS, 2015, 245 pages; 3742889


This dissertation pursues an analysis of twenty-first century adaptations of Brothers Grimm fairy tales, in particular “Little Red Riding Hood”, “Snow White”, and “Cinderella”. Film adaptations of fairy tales define the fairy tales for many who never read older text-based versions, making the film adaptations critical in discussions about fairy tales. In order to begin this undertaking, the dissertation first produces the first complete criteria for the fairy tale chronotope, a concept developed by Mihail Mihajlovič Bahktin. Bahktin’s chronotope defines a genre of texts by analyzing the structure, function, and common symbols, settings and characters within that genre. While Bahktin defined chronotopes for the chivalric romance, the novel, and others, he only mentions the fairy tale chronotope in passing. The fairy tale chronotope consists of a didactic message, a ritualized structure, and a cast of archetypal characters within an ambiguous setting surrounded by a formulaic frame meant to contain the actions and characters in their own world. Using the fairy tale chronotope provides new methods for analyzing and interpreting fairy tales in any medium, including film. The film analysis categorizes films by their didactic message, an atypical organization choice. By categorizing by that message, the analysis highlights the postfeminist and sometimes contradictory equipment for living, a term coined by Kenneth Burke, offered to young women who find themselves in a similar period of transition in their own lives. The voices of young women, found in their reviews of films, appear in the chapters discussing fairy tale film adaptations in order to include their interpretations and discernment of the didactic messages of the film. Finally, the dissertation engages the fairy tale chronotope in order to determine whether new tales, particularly in film, can be determined to be fairy tales. While some scholars believe that fairy tales can only include tales codified centuries ago, this dissertation demonstrates that fairy tales continue to be told and continue to inspire and teach audiences how to negotiate their roles in society.

AdvisersJohn C. Gooch; Thomas Riccio
Source TypeDissertation
SubjectsLiterature; Rhetoric; Film studies
Publication Number3742889

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