Publishing News: A Forthcoming Essay on Fairytales, Religion, Race, and Politics

Brer Rabbit from London Charivari

Brer Rabbit from London Charivari (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A few months ago in April, TheoFantastique had a call for papers, for Fairytale Collection, asking for a new critical engagement with fairy tales and how they have become popular in fairytales.

“Due to the popularity and familiarity of the tales, not only the layman, but also people inside many academic fields, who are concerned with such works, will find this book more than interesting. Given that this book will consist of a collection of handpicked essays concerning various aspects of these diverse adaptations of the literary fairy tales, an assortment of readers should find this book and its topic of great interest.

While our interests are broad and inclusive, we are particularly interested in papers that discuss fairy tales in contemporary popular culture (TV shows, movies, graphic novels, advertising, toys, video games, popular literature, etc), revisions and adaptations of fairy tales, and pedagogical uses of and approaches to fairy tales. Still, we are interested in as wide an array of papers as possible, so please do not hesitate to send a submission on any fairy tale related subject may it be on cultural significance, on gender, aspects of masculinity and femininity, theory, etc.”

Today, I am happy to announce that I received word that my controversial proposal was accepted to be added to the collection. It was well worth the time and effort. The title of my article forthcoming: “The Soul Of Black Folktales: Race, Class, Ethics, and Humanism in NBC’s GRIMM and Brer Rabbit

My proposal is really too long and complex for a blog post, but I will sum it up with my thesis here:

“I believe that this return of European fairytales to prominence in U.S. American culture is worthy of a critical investigation as it pertains to race, ethnicity, and class difference. In particular, I will examine ideas of European particularity and identity as well as class struggle in NBC’s GRIMM. First, I intend to observe the reception history of the folktales recorded by the Brothers Grimm in their 19th German context and what the implications are for European national identities. By way of comparison, I will also examine Joel Chandler Harris’ dissemination of the folktales passed on by enslaved Africans located in the Antebellum South, and what that meant for black racial identity formation. In both instances, Brer Rabbit and the Brothers Grimm’s stories as folk tales function as secular pedagogical tools aimed at teaching adults and children what it means to be a member of their given culture. I argue that NBC’s GRIMM serves as a hybrid text, as both an other-worldly supernatural (in the tradition of old European fairytales) horror show as well as a this-worldly folktale that addresses contemporary political issues, such as economic inequality and histories of racism, (much like the tales of Brer Rabbit).”

I believe that this article is important for a couple of reasons. First, there has yet to be a comparative study of the politics behind black folktales and European fairytales, and why this is important for the reception of these stories. Secondly, I think it is a good opportunity to have a dialogue with Black humanist and atheist traditions, and their views of black folktales as religious works. Are the politics and histories of black bodies ignored in our readings of Brer Rabbit? What kind of moral agency does Brer Rabbit possess that could be useful for today, and does anti-racist horror tv show like GRIMM have a shared trickster ethic with black folktales?

These are the things I am interested in, and I will keep you all updated!

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