A fairy tale appointment for Jack Zipes

Published: 8 April 2013 at 10:29

Children’s literature expert joins Anglia Ruskin as Leverhulme Visiting Professor

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Jack Zipes, the world-renowned children’s literature expert, has joined Anglia Ruskin University as Leverhulme Visiting Professor of Storytelling, Fairy Tales and Fantasy.

In addition to his scholarly work, which includes editing the Oxford Companion To Fairy Tales and being the general editor of The Norton Anthology of Children’s Literature, Professor Zipes is an active storyteller and has worked with children’s theatres in Europe and the US.

Professor Zipes will continue the pioneering work he has carried out with the Neighbourhood Bridges project in his home city of Minneapolis-St Paul by leading practical storytelling workshops in local primary schools and at Cambridge’s Fitzwilliam Museum.

His workshops aim to promote the value and practice of storytelling, and to empower children as active, creative tellers of their own stories, rather than simply consumers of ready-made tales.  Professor Zipes will also deliver a series of public lectures and seminars on campus, and introduce screenings of rare fairy tale films at the Arts Picturehouse in Cambridge.

Professor Zipes is also working with Professor Martin Salisbury, head of the MA in Children’s Book Illustration, and 18 of his students, who are illustrating his new book The Golden Age of Folk and Fairy Tales: From the Brothers Grimm to Andrew Lang, which will be published this autumn.

Dr Mick Gowar, Senior Lecturer in Contextual Studies at Anglia Ruskin, said:

“Human beings are essentially storytellers. Telling stories to ourselves and to others is fundamental to understanding the world around us and the world within us.
“Storytellers have not only been the entertainers of communities since ancient times, they have also been a living archive; able through prodigious feats of memory to preserve history, genealogies, poetry, music, and dance.  Storytelling is the foundation of literature, drama, religious thought, the humanities, and even common law.
“It’s with the aim of recognising, celebrating and extending these connections that Anglia Ruskin University has appointed Jack Zipes, one of the greatest living experts on folklore, fairy tales and storytelling, as Leverhulme Visiting Professor in  the Faculty of Arts, Law and Social Sciences.”

Commenting on the relevance of fairy tales in modern society, Professor Zipes said:

“Fairy tales have developed as means of communication that enable us to get a hold on problems that we have and suggest ways to resolve them.
“I have argued in some of my books that fairy tales deal with very serious problems such as rape in Little Red Riding Hood, the abandonment of children in Hansel and Gretel, the abuse of stepchildren in Cinderella, and the self-sacrifice of women demanded by a patriarchal society in Beauty and the Beast.”

Professor Zipes will be delivering a free public lecture, Reinvigorating the Fairy Tale: Contemporary Feminist Art and Photography, at Anglia Ruskin in Cambridge on Saturday, 20 April, as well as a series of three “In Conversation” events also on the Cambridge campus.

The first of these, on Wednesday 17 April, will see Professor Zipes discuss Texts and Telling: the points of contact, conflict and mutual enrichment between oral folk and fairy tales and published, literary tales with Eugene Giddens, Anglia Ruskin’s Skinner-Young Professor of Shakespeare and Renaissance Literature.

On Wednesday, 24 April he will be joined by fiction writers Sara Maitland and Adele Geras to explore re-tellings and reinterpretations of fairy tales in an event chaired by Professor Farah Mendlesohn of Anglia Ruskin.  On Wednesday, 1 May Anglia Ruskin’s Professor Rohan McWilliam will chair a discussion between Professor Zipes and Norman Geras, Professor Emeritus of Politics at the University of Manchester, about Marxism, Utopianism and Fairy Tales.

The lecture and talks are free to attend and each will run from 6-7.30pm.  For further information and to book your place, please visit www.anglia.ac.uk/leverhulmelectures2013