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Dr. Hollis Seamon, College of Saint Rose - Modern Fairy Tales


Albany, NY – In today's Academic Minute, Dr. Hollis Seamon of the College of Saint Rose explains the modern resurgence of fairy tales as a literary genre.

Hollis Seamon is a professor of English at the College of Saint Rose in Albany, New York and the author of the short story collection Body Work and the novel Flesh. She has published short stories in many journals, including Bellevue Literary Review, Greensboro Review, Fiction International, Chicago Review, Nebraska Review, Calyx, and Pindeldyboz. Her stories have been anthologized in The Best of the Bellevue Literary Review, The Strange History of Suzanne LaFleshe, A Line of Cutting Women, Sacred Ground, and Quarry: Crime Stories by New England Writers. Her story, "Death is the New Sleep," won the 2009 Al Blanchard award for short crime fiction. Seamon lives in Kinderhook, NY.

About Dr. Seamon

Dr. Hollis Seamon - Modern Fairy Tales

Once upon our time, here at the start of the twenty-first century, writers are once again telling tales fairy tales, that is. Literary writers have taken up the traditions of this ancient genre with renewed enthusiasm, reinventing familiar stories and conjuring new stories of their own, wonder tales for our time.

These contemporary fairy tales, by writers like Alice Thomas Ellis, Lily Hoang and Aimee Bender are not, let it be said, written for children. Their darkness, subtlety, sexuality, and psychological complexity are meant to engage the hearts, minds and spirits of adult readers.

Still, one has to wonder why these kinds of tales are resurgent now? How can literary versions of a magical world compete with angry birds, stunning computer graphics and the lure of social networking? I believe that the real allure of the literary fairy tale lies in the oldest of seductions, the enchantment of language itself, the belief that to say a magic word Abracadabra! Rumpelstiltskin! is to conjure a universe of infinite possibility. We still long, deep in our psyches, to be given this secret word. As fairy tale scholar Jack Zipes says, "Tales are marks that leave traces of the human struggle for immortality . They triumph over death. The tale begins with Once upon a time' and never really ends. The ending is the beginning."

And perhaps that's exactly why we, here at the start of the twenty-first century, still need writers to spin words into gold. We still long to hear the closing phrase that assures us that somehow, sometimes, somewhere, someone gets to live happily, for ever after.

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