Folklore and Fairy Tale in Gothic Literature and Film: Classic and Contemporary


Comparative Literature / Cultural Studies and Media Studies

Kayla Drummond (University of Colorado Denver)

James Deutsch (Smithsonian Institution)

The connection between the rise of the gothic tradition and the assemblage and distribution of folk and fairy tales in the eighteenth century has attracted the interest of many literary and film critics as of late. In March of 2020, the journal Gothic Studies published a special issue titled “Gothic Folklore and Fairy Tale” to examine diverse international gothic texts and the folklore indelibly infused into their fabrics. Carina Hart’s introductory essay, titled “Gothic Folklore and Fairy Tale: Negative Nostalgia,” posits a theory of negative nostalgia to account for the linkage between folklore and gothic fiction. Hart marks the diffusion of folklore from the private to the public stage with publications like the Grimm’s Children’s and Household Tales (1812), and, furthermore, she explains the literary gothic’s role in assimilating the endangered folkloric storytelling modes of the past for a modern audience. This panel will continue to explore the intersections between folklore, fairy tale, and the gothic — either by contributing to the valuable conversations started in the special issue of Gothic Studies, or by addressing other works of literature and film which display a significant gothic-folklore-fairy tale dynamic. In so doing, the panel will expand upon a growing interest for literary scholars of the gothic and of folklore alike – namely, that the gothic is a literary genre that reproduces, maintains, challenges, and adapts many archetypes and narrative techniques associated with folk and fairy tale traditions.

This panel identifies and analyzes how folklore and fairy tales have shaped the gothic tradition, and how gothic novels and film have adapted and modified folk and fairy tale elements throughout the history of the genre, beginning in the 18th century. This panel’s approach will be comparative, and it is open to exploration of diverse texts—from novels to films to poetry and beyond—ranging from the 18th century all the way to the present.