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Expert to Speak on Fairy Tales and Their Newest Form as Internet Memes

Wednesday, Sep. 13, 2017

Fairty tale expert Jack Zipes

Jack Zipes will present a public lecture at 3 p.m., Wednesday, Sept. 20, on "Flying Tales of Wonder: Fairy Tale Postcards as Memes."

Albert Einstein famously said, “If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales.”

Then he added, “If you want them to be more intelligent, read them more fairy tales.”

That’s because these rich story nuggets are actually about us 21st-century types, says Claudia Schwabe, an assistant professor of German at Utah State University. Fairy tales “contain spiritual and communal values, moral messages and truths about life that every human being can relate to,” she said.

She is pleased to welcome to Utah State University one of the world’s most renowned experts on fairy tales. Jack Zipes will present a public lecture at 3 p.m., Wednesday, Sept. 20, at the David B. Haight Alumni House.  

Zipes will speak on “Flying Tales of Wonder: Fairy Tale Postcards as Memes.”

What used to be entertaining postcards have evolved into internet memes. But it’s the stories, not the delivery method, that makes them still relevant to our times, said Schwabe.

“Many of the 18th and 19th century moral messages are valid today,” she said. “We can learn from fairy tales because they deal with profound cultural issues and contradictions.”

Schwabe’s own work makes the same point. Her latest book Craving Supernatural Creatures: German Fairy Tale Figures in American Pop culture,” is due in 2018 from Wayne State University Press. And yes, she admits, she closely follows such contemporary fairy-tale incarnations as the TV series “Grimm” and “Once Upon a Time.”

Zipes, a professor emeritus of German and comparative literature at the University of Minnesota is, “the most prolific author, editor and translator in fairy-tale studies and his books are international top-sellers in the field,” said Schwabe.

The folk-tale authority has published more than 30 single-authored books, translations and edited collections on fairy tales, their evolution, their social and political role in civilizing processes and their function in modern society.

His books include The Complete Tales of the Brothers Grimm (Bantam, 3rd edition in 2013) and the landmark Breaking the Magic Spell: Radical Theories of Folk and Fairy Tales (University Press of Kentucky, 2nd edition in 2002).  His newest book is Tales of Wonder: Retelling Fairy Tales through Picture Postcards (University of Minnesota Press, 2017), which describes how key scenes of fairy tales have been rendered over time.

Zipes’ lecture will be followed by a reception. The event is free and open to the public.

For more information, contact Claudia Schwabe, 435-797-8624,

Writer: Janelle Hyatt,

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