Folktales

Jan Ziolkowski

Jan Ziolkowski

Arthur Kingsley Porter Professor of Medieval Latin
Director of the Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection

Research Interests: Medieval literature, especially narrative and Latin; education (grammar, rhetoric, and dialectic), poetics, and literary criticism and theory in the Middle Ages; folktales and popular culture in medieval sources, especially Latin; Latin-vernacular relations... Read more about Jan Ziolkowski

Boylston 216
p: 617.496.6062
Office Hours: By appointment
Fairy Tales From Before Fairy Tales: The Medieval Past of Wonderful Lies
Ziolkowski, Jan M. 2007. Fairy Tales From Before Fairy Tales: The Medieval Past of Wonderful Lies. Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press. Publisher's Version Abstract

When did fairy tales begin? What qualifies as a fairy tale? Is a true fairy tale oral or literary? Or is a fairy tale determined not by style but by content? To answer these and other questions, Jan M. Ziolkowski not only provides a comprehensive overview of the theoretical debates about fairy tale origins but includes an extensive discussion of the relationship of the fairy tale to both the written and oral sources. Ziolkowski offers interpretations of a sampling of the tales in order to sketch the complex connections that existed in the Middle Ages between oral folktales and their written equivalents, the variety of uses to which the writers applied the stories, and the diverse relationships between the medieval texts and the expressions of the same tales in the "classic" fairy tale collections of the nineteenth century. In so doing, Ziolkowski explores stories that survive in both versions associated with, on the one hand, such standards of the nineteenth-century fairy tale as the Brothers Grimm, Hans Christian Andersen, and Carlo Collodi and, on the other, medieval Latin, demonstrating that the literary fairy tale owes a great debt to the Latin literature of the medieval period.