Scary Fairies, Sexy Vampires, and Techno-Ghosts: Or, 5 Reasons Fairy-Tale Scholars Study Legends Too

June 8, 2017

Most of you are here because you love fairy tales and think of us as fairy-tale scholars. While that is absolutely our primary area of scholarly interest, we wear a lot of (elaborately witchy) hats in the realm of Folklore and wanted to share with you some of the reasons why we also *love* to study Legends (and why you might too!)

5 Reasons Fairy-Tale Scholars Study Legends Too

1. Because They Are Supernatural:
Fairy tales and legends often feature the supernatural. One of the things we love about fairy tales is that magic is part of the fabric of their world. Witches and faeries and curses and monsters are all part of the world of legends as well, and in our course we’ll of course be talking a LOT about these things. As those of you who took our Fairy Tale course already know, faeries are actually thin on the ground (and in the sky) in fairy tales… why? Because they’re actually (pretty scary!) legendary creatures!

Pan’s Labyrinth

2. Because of the Characters:
Similar characters can show up in legends and fairy tales – for example, the unlikely hero, the resourceful heroine, and the wily trickster are just as likely to appear in a legend as in a fairy tale. But legends also tend to feature more modern and specific characters… like helpful (?) Uber drivers, terrifyingly incompetent hair stylists, and food truck owners selling meals far more dangerous than faerie food.

Bob’s Burgers

3. Because They *Feel* Similar:
Even though they are different kinds of folk narratives, fairy tales and legends *feel* similar to the hearer. They ask us to consider what makes an action right or wrong, what constitutes good and evil, how to interact with those who seem different than us, and how to answer difficult questions. They are stories of heroism, terror, magic, and the bizarre. They invite us to believe in something strange, something impossible, and, in the voice of a talented teller, we sometimes believe them.


4. Because They’re Happening All Around You:
Fairy tales allow you to go to a land of once upon a time… a mysterious realm outside the bounds of the everyday. Legends, on the other hand, are tied to specific places, which can also be fun to explore! In a legend, you might encounter a place you once visited, or even a street you drive on everyday. This can lend an air of enchantment to ordinary experience… who knows, perhaps a sexy vampire is waiting for you around the next corner? [Spoiler: If you do find one, he’s probably gross. Take our class to find out why!!]


5. Because The Internet (Again):
The legends of today are closely tied to the Internet and, if you’re anything like us, the Internet is a HUGE part of your life. The digital culture we’re currently creating is haunted by some of the scariest, strangest, and even most beautiful modern-day legends out there.


So that’s a few reasons why fairy-tale scholars might love legends too :). If this list has intrigued you, please consider signing up for our long course on “The Legend” – registration is open until June 30th at midnight!

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