We craft and tell stories because we’ve stood on the uncertain edge between the waking world and our imagination, between enchantment and fear. And we remember other stories that help us build our own stories, scraps of lumber and fragments of narrative we gather together to make stories for ourselves.

Subverting Laughter

Lovers of folk and fairy tale will glad to learn about the launch of a literary fairy tale website. Subverting Laughter is an interstitial, interdisciplinary research initiative presenting that wonderful Victorian pantomime, The Light Princess by George MacDonald (1864). The project is curated by Ms Christine Chettle, a doctoral candidate at the University of Leeds, and features artwork and narration by the Houston-based artist Christi Williams. As Ms Chettle explained:

We will use a mixture of visual art, digital recording, and reflective blogging to re-tell the tale and to inspire new discussions of the tale in an online space, allowing a wide range of audiences to engage with MacDonald’s Victorian text.

The site will move through the story chapter by chapter, updated fortnightly. Each post will feature a new recording, illustration, and so one, with commentary by MacDonald scholars such as Daniel Gabelman (Eastbourne) and William Gray (Sussex Centre for Folklore, Fantasy and Fairy Tales). The first chapter, ‘What? No Children?’ live on the site, with commentary by Ms Chettle. The post on second chapter, ‘Won’t I, Just?’, will feature commentary from Unsettling Wonder’s own general editor.

According to the official press release

Subverting Laughter explores how MacDonald’s theories of the imagination and of storytelling might transfer to a modern context. … [The project] takes place on different social media platforms: the facebook page complements the blog site as a source for extra content in the intervals between the blog posts. As well as being an international collaboration, the project draws together George MacDonald scholars from a range of interpretative contexts: his Victorian context, his theological context, his children’s literature context, and his mythopoeic context. This combination of perspectives will increase dialogue and create new opportunities for partnership.

The Light Princess is a hilarious, whimsical, polyvalent, and unsettling fairy tale, and it’s great to see it featured in what promises to be a fruitful experiment. We’ll be watching its evolution with interest. Check out the site and spread the word. 


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