In the twenty-first century, American culture is experiencing a profound shift toward pluralism and secularization. In Fairy Tales in Contemporary American Culture: How We Hate to Love Them, Kate Koppy argues that the increasing popularity and presence of fairy tales within American culture is both indicative of and contributing to this shift. By analyzing contemporary fairy tale texts as both new versions in a particular tale type and as wholly new fairy-tale pastiches, Koppy shows that fairy tales have become a key part of American secular scripture, a corpus of shared stories that work to maintain a sense of community among diverse audiences in the United States, as much as biblical scripture and associated texts used to.
Kate Koppy is assistant professor in the Department of Humanities at the New Economic School in Moscow, Russia.
Part I: Setting the Scene
Chapter 1: Introduction
Chapter 2: Once Upon a Time, There Was a Story
Chapter 3: What Are Fairy Tales, Anyway?
Part II: Cinderella Transformed in the Twenty-First Century
Chapter 4: Cinderella’s Subtypes
Chapter 5: Cinderella Variants and Versions
Chapter 6: Cinderella as Shorthand
Part III. Old Wine in New Wine Skins: Contemporary Fairy-Tale Pastiche on Film
Chapter 7: Fairy-Tale Pastiche, a Rising Trend in the Twenty-First Century
Chapter 8: Manhattan Meets Andalasia, and Both Are Changed: Overt Fairy-Tale Pastiche in Disney’s Enchanted
Chapter 9: Challenging the Patriarchy and Restoring Interpersonal Harmony: Covert Pastiche in Disney-Pixar's Brave
Overall an engaging and relevant addition to the body of critical fairy-tale studies. Koppy’s careful attention to issues of citation practice and social justice, for instance, as well as her small hints about the impact of precarity on one’s scholarship, give the impression of an insightful and perceptive mind at work, one that I hope we get to see more of in folkloristic circles.
This book offers a unique entry point into fairy tale studies because it offers a distinct framing of contemporary phenomena that brings together fields that generally remain separate: fairy tale scholarship, Disney studies, and mythic cultural cohesion.
In Fairy Tales in Contemporary American Culture: How We Hate to Love Them, Kate Koppy compels the reader to see fairy tales as American secular scripture, which, like sacred scripture, works to create a community identity among shared readers, listeners, and viewers. Her book provides rich analysis of fairy tales' popularity in American culture and a novel methodology for scholars to explore fairy tale consumption and production. Koppy’s writing is accessible, her argument is compelling, and her book is a must for scholars and lovers of fairy tales.
This brilliant study considers how fairy tales have supplanted biblical scripture to become the new cultural locus of social cohesion in the U.S. Many scholars have dismissed the fairy tale’s role in cultural development, but Koppy’s work serves as an important corrective by plotting the role fairy tales have taken on in modern America, how these tales have become ingrained in American mythos, and how their very pervasiveness allows for the interrogation of American core values. For scholars of the development of the American imaginary, students of contemporary folklore, or anyone touched by the cultural force of fairy tales, Koppy’s book is a vital read.
This is an important and incisive book that rethinks how we understand the cultural work of fairy tales in the twenty-first century. Drawing on a wide range of fairy tales in a variety of media from across the globe and throughout time, Kate Koppy prompts us to read these stories as secular scripture, the fundamental narratives that make it possible for communities to cohere in a postmodern world. In doing so, Koppy offers us a new intersectional methodology for reading the evolution and dissemination of fairy tales in the contemporary United States.