Dread and Delight

Fairy Tales in an Anxious World

by Emily Stamey, with a new story by Kelly Link

Hardcover Price $40.00

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Published by the Weatherspoon Art Museum

“It is a worthwhile memento that adds layers of depth and context to the stories and artwork for an audience less familiar with fairy tale research. For those who missed the exhibit, the text provides an engaging print-based experience that allows them to share some of the joy of the real thing.”
Journal of Folklore Research

“Dread and Delight is an inspiring book to read within the context of artistic retellings of well-known fairy tales.”

Dread and Delight features the work of contemporary artists using canonical fairy tales to examine the complexities of postmodern life. In the history of art, the widespread use of fairy tales is new—a phenomenon of the late twentieth century that continues to gain traction. Surveying some forty years of artistic production, this is the first book to consider why artists have turned to fairy tales and how they are reinvigorating the genre. 

In recalling specific stories—including “Hansel and Gretel,” “Little Red Riding Hood,” “Cinderella,” and others—some artists have embraced fairy tales’ promises of transformation and championing of the disenfranchised. Others, however, have plumbed their darker elements—poverty, abuse, addiction, and exploitations of power. Many artists engage in what Renaissance scholar Armando Maggi describes as “dirty” storytelling, a disjointed and spontaneous mode of narration that revels in the marvelous and denies easy explanations. Rather than merely recasting classical fairy tales in contemporary contexts, these artists dismantle and reassemble the stories in wholly transformative ways.

In 1982, conceptual artist John Baldessari noted, “What appears to be trivial in a fairy tale, etc. could be the lingering remnant of the memory of the soul.” Focusing on specific cultural contexts for fairy tale subjects, Dread and Delight explores the ways in which artists have countered this notion of fairy tales as inconsequential and instead revealed their relevance for our lives today.

The corresponding exhibit of the same name at the Weatherspoon Art Museum at The University of North Carolina at Greensboro runs Aug 25–Dec 9, 2018. Learn more at http://weatherspoon.uncg.edu/exhibitions/show?title=dread-delight-fairy-tales-in-an-anxious-world.


Emily Stamey is the curator of exhibitions at the Weatherspoon Art Museum at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. Previously, she served in curatorial posts at the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art in Arizona and the Ulrich Museum of Art at Wichita State University in Kansas. Stamey is the author of Stocked: Contemporary Art from the Grocery Aisles and The Prints of Roger Shimomura: A Catalogue Raisonné, 1968–2005, among other publications.

Kelly Link is the author of the short story collection Get in Trouble, which was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, as well as Pretty Monsters, Magic for Beginners, and Stranger Things Happen. Her work has been included in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, The Best American Short Stories, and Prize Stories: The O. Henry Awards. Link is the cofounder of Small Beer Press.

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  • Hardcover Price: $40.00
  • Hardcover ISBN: 978-1-890949-17-4
  • Publication Month: August
  • Publication Year: 2018
  • Pages: 120
  • Illustrations: 72 color photographs
  • Discount Type: Trade
  • Author: by Emily Stamey, with a new story by Kelly Link
  • ECommerce Code: 978-1-890949-17-4

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