From literature for children to the text of culture: how fairy tales help me to be a 'serious scholar'
Weronika Kostecka (University of Warsaw)
Paper short abstract:
The author outlines her strategy of using fairy tales as a means of creating her image of a 'serious researcher'. In the Polish academia, this means shifting the perception of fairy tales: from literature for children to the text of culture, as well as rethinking such concept as heritage.
Paper long abstract:
It is a distinctive characteristic of Polish research to analyse fairy tales exclusively as literature directed at children, and to discuss such issues as their impact on children's emotional, moral and intellectual development. Interestingly, Polish scholars who focus on fairy tales are not considered 'serious researchers' - such assumption is popular among the representatives of other divisions of literature studies. My research is founded on a certain paradox: I want to break the image of a 'not serious' scholar by researching fairy tales - understood as a text of culture, and not a children-targeted literature, as it has been established in Poland. I am mostly interested in literary and marketing strategies of 'returning' fairy tales to adults, as well as in the 'blank spaces' on a Polish fairy tale research map (those are, for example, reasons why do Polish feminists criticise traditional tales, but not create their own). I will discuss: 1) the transformation within my own academic narrative on fairy tales - from fairy tales as literature for children (fairy tale as a didactic instrument), through fairy tale as children's literature (fairy tale and its retellings as a play with tradition and with readers), to fairy tales understood as a text of culture; 2) ways in which I use fairy tales to construct my image of a 'serious scholar'; 3) evolution of my understanding of 'heritage' and 'utopia' in reference to fairy tales (from the 'researcher of Polish fairy tales' to the 'fairy tale researcher').
Meta-visions of heritage and utopia: scholarly tales on fairy tales