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As “Grimm Legacies” drew to a close on Saturday, attendees took one final look in the “magic mirror”—a prop that was the centerpiece of two days of discussions on topics such as violence in “Hansel and Gretel” and metamorphosis in “Beauty and the Beast.”
The annual symposium, sponsored by the Folklore and Mythology department, was held at the Barker Center in honor of the 200th anniversary of the publication of tales collected by brothers Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm. “Grimms’ Fairy Tales,” which was originally published in German, includes classic stories such as “Rapunzel” and “Cinderella.”
“[This is] a way for our students to participate, to give papers, to be involved, to see what people go on and do in this field, because of course their parents might ask, ‘You’re majoring in what?’” said Deborah D. Foster, a senior lecturer in Folklore and Mythology.
University of Minnesota professor Jack D. Zipes, who has authored numerous books on the Grimms’ tales, delivered the keynote address Friday on the pair’s legacy. “The Brothers Grimm have [had] a very unusual reception in Germany and a lot of their fairy tales have been sanitized and infantilized and really not been acknowledged as profound contributions to German culture,” Zipes said. “I showed, however, that there is another level in Germany where they take these stories extremely seriously and produce great illustrations based on their work.”
Folklore and Mythology Chair Maria Tatar delivered Saturday’s welcome address, entitled “Magic and Mythical: 200 Years of Brothers Grimm.”
“I wanted to show how [the tales’] magic has a mythical quality to it,” said Tatar, who teaches Folklore and Mythology 90i: “Fairy Tales and Fantasy Literature.” “They take us to the great existential mysteries, questions about death, reproduction, love, romance, power, all of these fundamental matters,” Tatar said.
Cara Zimmerman ’05, a doctoral candidate in art history at the University of Delaware, said she attended the symposium because it combined her current academic work with her undergraduate concentration in Folklore and Mythology.
“I liked seeing the intersection of different scholarly works and seeing how the intersection of these stories comes together for a larger community not just in academia,” Zimmerman said.
Tatar said that she hopes the symposium’s participants had gained new perspective on fairy tales and folklore. “The takeaway will be that these stories make the human world but they also make the world human,” she said.
—Staff writer Melanie A. Guzman can be reached at email@example.com.
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