We are so excited to be presenting at the conference Norm and Transgression in the Fairy-Tale Tradition: (Non)Normative Identities, Forms, and Writings at Brown University! Our paper – “‘Our Beloved Cinderella: Kalynn Bayron’s Cinderella is Dead and the Queering of Folk Narrative Genre” – will be on Thursday.
“From Perrault’s representation of female disobedience in ‘Bluebeard’ to Little Red Riding Hood’s disregard of her mother’s prohibition of wandering in the forest, transgression is a key theme in fairy tales. The act of transgression is typically used as a vehicle for a moral and/or educational message which seeks to punish the transgressor and reward ‘good’ behaviour that is compliant with societal norms and values. But with the evolution of the literary fairy tale as a genre, transgression has taken many other forms and significations that go well beyond acts of disobedience or the infringement of society’s rules and expectations. Rewritings of fairy tales, including the efforts by late 19th-century Decadent writers to subvert traditional happy endings and moral meanings or postmodern feminist adaptations that challenge the patriarchal structure embedded in those fairy tales, put into question the very notions of transgression and normativity in the fairy-tale world.
It could easily be argued, moreover, that transgression of accepted cultural norms has defined the literary fairy tale as a genre ever since its development in late 17th-century France. Physical deformity and monsters, such as ogres, witches, and other villains, populate the fairy-tale universe; violent and homicidal acts are commonly represented; and transgressive relationships and comportments abound, including, for instance, the numerous tales classified as ‘unnatural love’ in the Aarne–Thompson–Uther Index of folktales. In spite of the evident moralistic and allegorical meanings of fairy tales, and of the supposed acceptance of its illogical and ‘marvellous’ world as normative by the reader, the latter cannot but acknowledge the transgressive presence of topics such as cannibalism and anthropophagy in many of the tales. Recently, scholarly works in the emerging field of Queer Fairy-Tale Studies have underlined the ‘transgressive’ quality of certain traditional tales that do not conform to a heteronormative paradigm.”