Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation


Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph. D.



Degree Program

Humanities, PhD

Committee Chair

Allen, Annette C.

Committee Co-Chair (if applicable)

Griner, Paul

Committee Member

Phillips, Selene

Committee Member

Williams, Michael


Fairy tales--History and criticism; Folklore--Appalachian Region; Storytelling--Appalachian Region


Fairy tales and other forms of fantastic literature have fascinated children and adults for generations. The scholarship on these types of works indicate that many find their folkloric origins in oral storytelling, and those roots may be quite ancient. However, some of the earliest examples of recorded literature capture stories of magic and fantasy. The interplay between the oral and literary form remains a significant area of study and development for folk literature, and new artistic productions, termed variants in the scholarship, continue to appear frequently in contemporary American culture. The criticism and creative work presented here add to the outpouring of fairy tale variants and southern literature that have been so prevalent in the United States in the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries. The dissertation is divided into two main sections. Section I provides scholarly discussion on the history of fantastic literature, the history of scholarship on fairy tales, the value of production of fairy tale and related films in contemporary society, and in depth critical discussions of the sources and variants used to develop the body of fiction that follows. Section II includes the collection of short fiction titled A Magical Country: Stories from Appalachia. This collection follows several traditions of the literary collection of oral stories, including a frame tale and rotating narrators. Five different storytellers share oral stories with each other and an extended audience in a rural Appalachian general store. The store serves as a focal point for the community where information, rumors, and successes are disseminated. Each of the five stories in the collection blends elements from fairy tales and Appalachian oral stories currently in circulation. All together, the collection of stories illustrate the concerns and perspectives of rural, southern Appalachia and the encroachment of contemporary life and problems from what is perceived as the outside world which is urban life and city dwellers.