Relentless Progress: The Reconfiguration of Children's Literature, Fairy Tales, and Storytelling (Paperback) book cover

Relentless Progress

The Reconfiguration of Children's Literature, Fairy Tales, and Storytelling

By Jack Zipes

© 2009 – Routledge

192 pages

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Paperback: 9780415990646
pub: 2008-12-05
Hardback: 9780415990639
pub: 2008-12-05
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pub: 2013-02-01
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Can fairy tales subvert consumerism? Can fantasy and children's literature counter the homogenizing influence of globalization? Can storytellers retain their authenticity in the age of consumerism? These are some of the critical questions raised by Jack Zipes, the celebrated scholar of fairy tales and children's literature. In this book, Zipes argues that, despite a dangerous reconfiguration of children as consumers in the civilizing process, children's literature, fairy tales, and storytelling possess a uniquely powerful (even fantastic)capacity to resist the "relentless progress" of negative trends in culture. He also argues that these tales and stories may lose their power if they are too diluted by commercialism and merchandising.

Stories have been used for centuries as a way to teach children (and adults) how to see the world, as well as their place within it. In Relentless Progress, Zipes looks at the surprising ways that stories have influenced people within contemporary culture and vice versa. Among the many topics explored here are the dumbing down of books for children, the marketing of childhood, the changing shape of feminist fairy tales, and why American and British children aren’t exposed to more non-western fairy tales. From picture books to graphic novels, from children’s films to video games, from Grimm’s fairy tales to the multimedia Harry Potter phenomenon, Zipes demonstrates that while children’s stories have changed greatly in recent years, much about these stories have remained the same—despite their contemporary, high-tech repackaging.

Relentless Progress offers remarkable insight into why classic folklore and fairy tales should remain an important part of the lives of children in today’s digital culture.


'Many of [the] short essays are quite fascinating.' - Art and Christianity

Table of Contents




1. The Reconfiguration of Children and Children’s Literature in the Culture Industry

2. Misreading Children and the Fate of the Book

3. Why Fantasy Matters Too Much

4. The Multicultural Contradictions of International Children’s Literature: Three Complaints and Three Wishes

5. What Makes a Repulsive Frog So Appealing: Applying Memetics to Folk and Fairy Tales

6. And Nobody Lived Happily Ever After: The Feminist Fairy Tale after Forty Years of Fighting for Survival

7. Storytelling as Spectacle in the Globalized World




About the Author

Jack Zipes is Professor of German at the University of Minnesota. An acclaimed translator and scholar of children's literature and culture, his most recent books include The Collected Sicilian Folk and Fairy Tales of Giuseppe Pitré, Why Fairy Tales Stick, Hans Christian Andersen: The Misunderstood Storyteller, Beautiful Angiola, and The Robber with the Witch's Head, all published by Routledge.

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
LITERARY CRITICISM / Children's Literature
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Popular Culture
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Media Studies