On 17 February at 17 Tatjana Menise will defend her doctoral thesis “Fairy Tales in Transmedia Communication: Fanfiction”.
Professor Peeter Torop
Professor Cristina Bacchilega (University of Hawaii)
Associate Professor Roman Leibov (University of Tartu)
Traditional European fairy-tales as “Cinderella”, “Sleeping Beauty”, “Snow White” or “The Snow Queen” are well known to the majority of people all over the world. These stories are often retold in different cultural and natural languages, reflect changing social discourses, cause various disputes, echo in texts of all possible genres. The main research question of our thesis is How are stories transformed in the general cultural dynamics? Fairy-tales exist in the contemporary culture in many variations, and it turns them into the promising material to investigate the nature of cultural retelling. The retelling phenomenon is akin to a sophisticated game in which different authors scrutinize texts for new potentials and hidden messages, try on new means of expression, or simply test the actuality of texts’ messages that are already familiar and “digested” by the broad audiences. Today “professional” authors replenish the web of interpretations alongside “amateur” authors (i.e. fans or transformative authors); there are retellings that are made as commercial productions and retellings that are created on the borders of participatory culture. The audiences’ creativity makes culture more heterogeneous, enriches it by provoking further artistic practices and dialogues, and consequently helps a researcher to build a more complete picture of a story’s existence in the changing cultural context. We consider retelling as a semiotic problem and model it as the chain of communications between humans, texts and cultures.We appeal not simply to concrete texts, but to what stands behind them — to the complex interplay of texts in different cultural languages that happens on the mental level of culture, is activated in the mind of a receiver/author, and may be denoted as transmedia communication. Our main research material is Russian fanfiction devoted to the classical fairy-tale plot “The Snow Queen”, originally written by Hans Christian Andersen in 1844. The work consists of an introductory section and five original articles written during five years of our PhD studies.