October 25, 2011

Humanities Day 2011: Preserving the Spell: Fairy Tales and the Future of Storytelling

Professor of Italian Literature Armando Maggi gave a lecture on fairytales and our dissatisfaction with them in the modern era, calling for a “new mythologization of reality.”

Maggi opened the lecture showing a clip of the first scene of Disney’s 1937 film Snow White, emphasizing that the origin of fairytales—as we know them today—lies in Italy, springing up between the 15th and 17th centuries.

“[Snow White is] an unchangeable, fixed story we all know,” he said. “We perceive these stories as natural stories. They seem to exist before us.”

Maggi also drew the distinction between the oral and literary tradition of fairytales. He proceeds to describe the limited place of mythology in today as a function of a societal “hunger” for realism.

“I loved his comment on how the fairytales don’t change. Children really do like to hear the same stories over and over again,” attendee Beata Boodell said. “They gain their power and importance from that repetition.”