Once upon the Civil War: monsters, magic, and making an American fairy tale

Kirchner, C (2020) Once upon the Civil War: monsters, magic, and making an American fairy tale. PhD thesis, Bath Spa University.

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This thesis probes the process through which I utilized elements of fairy tale and folk tale in writing 'The Civil War Fairy Book', both a novel-in-fairy-tale and a retelling of Arthurian legend set in nineteenth-century America. Fairy tale is a genre traditionally associated with brevity, flat characterization, lack of detail, a placeless and timeless setting, and a happy ending. While I intend this thesis to serve as a toolkit for writers of fairy tale, the scope of this research means it cannot be exhaustive in terms of its coverage, nor do I wish to be prescriptive about the elements of fairy tale writers ought to consider in their work. Rather than providing a formal, critical analysis of the genre — a project that already fills volumes in libraries — I have instead engaged in a personal but intellectually informed reflection on my own process. This takes the form of a travel memoir that combines fairy tale theory, commentary on my own writing process, and chronicles of my research trip to Natchez, Mississippi. As daily travel diary, each of this thesis’ seven sections explores the ways I have stretched the edges of fairy story into a long work. The first section documents my process of writing a fairy tale with a specific setting while the second discusses my use of the fairy tale’s brief, repetitive structure in a novel. Section three details the creation of my protagonist as both round character and flat fairy tale hero. Section four records my experimentation with various points of view, and sections five, six and seven argue for the importance of magical transformation and black magic; examine fairy tale themes through a survey of scholarly approaches to the genre; and question the fairy tale’s traditionally happy endings, respectively. It is my hope that by sharing my journey, process and discoveries in writing a new American fairy tale, other writers may also create contemporary tales that push the boundaries of genre.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)

The document attached to this record is the contextualizing research section of the thesis only. It does not include the creative component, which is the manuscript for the novel 'The Civil War Fairy Book'.

Keywords: PhD by Practice, American Civil War, 19th century, Arthurian legend, fairy tale, writing toolkit, travel writing, magic, memoir, creative writing
Divisions: School of Writing, Publishing and the Humanities
Identification Number: https://doi.org/10.17870/bathspa.00014292
Date Deposited: 03 Sep 2021 12:36
Last Modified: 19 Feb 2024 18:42
URI / Page ID: https://researchspace.bathspa.ac.uk/id/eprint/14292
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