Jennifer Schacker is an Associate Professor in the School of English and Theatre Studies, where she has taught since 2002. She received her M.A. and Ph.D. from the Folklore Institute at Indiana University, Bloomington, and her B.A. Hons. from McGill University.
Schacker's most recent book is Staging Fairyland: Folklore, Children's Entertainment, and Nineteenth-Century Pantomime (Wayne State University Press, 2018). This project engages the history of a spectacular, rowdy, satirical and slightly risqué form of theatre -- one that draws heavily on a repertoire of fairy-tale characters and motifs. A number of case studies are woven into the monograph, moving between realms of print and performance, early folklore scholarship and British popular culture. Schacker examines 19th-century pantomime productions of such well-known tales as "Cinderella," "Little Red Riding Hood," and "Jack and the Beanstalk," as well as others whose popularity has since waned -- such as "Daniel O'Rourke" and "The Yellow Dwarf." These productions resonate with traditions of impersonation, cross-dressing, literary imposture, masquerade, and the social practice of "fancy dress." Schacker's work reclaims the place of popular theatre in histories of folklore and fairy tale, developing a model for the intermedial and cross-disciplinary study of narrative cultures.
Schacker has collaborated with Belgian artist Lina Kusaite and French scholar Christine A. Jones on Feathers, Paws, Fins, and Claws: Fairy-Tale Beasts (Wayne State University Press, 2015), an illustrated critical anthology of tales featuring animal characters. Schacker and Jones are co-editors of Marvelous Transformations: An Anthology of Fairy Tales and Contemporary Critical Perspectives (Broadview Press, 2012), a volume that historicizes both oral traditional and literary tales and includes a series of original essays written by specialists from varied disciplinary backgrounds.
Schacker's study of Victorian collections of tales, entitled National Dreams: The Remaking of Fairy Tales in Nineteenth-Century England (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2003), won the 2006 Mythopoeic Scholarship Award. Drawing on performance theory, cultural studies, and materialist approaches to book history, Schacker foregrounded the ways in which the reading of tales was recast as a performance of both bourgeois subjectivity and collectivity, an act framed in the early to mid-19th century as both individualistic and nationalistic. This study engaged with recent work on Victorian print and visual cultures; authorship and the rhetoric of authenticity; critical re-evaluations of Folklore's disciplinary history; and the politics and poetics of fieldwork, transcription and translation.
With longstanding interest in the histories of handknitting, spinning, and needlecraft, and drawing on her training in ethnographic methods and material culture theory, Schacker has been involved in the study of contemporary craft/DIY movements -- with a special emphasis on the role of digital technologies and social networking in modern quilting. Her fascination with both narrative and material cultures is reflected in her current work on subcultural uses sewing, costume, and performance. She is also engaged in preliminary fieldwork on children's development of stories both about and with play objects -- research that informs her recent course design in Literary & Cultural Studies, subtitled "Toy/Story," where undergrad students engage perspectives from the fields of folklore, material culture, childhood studies, museum studies, marketing, and toy research.
Jennifer Schacker's work has drawn on her training as a folklorist and literary scholar, and engages with developments in several related but distinct disciplines: folklore, anthropology, children's literature, and fairy-tale studies. She draws on this interdisciplinary field of reference in her teaching, introducing undergraduate and graduate students to a range of critical practices and research methods.
MA & PhD in Folklore, minor in Cultural Studies, Indiana University
BA First Class Honours in English, McGill University
Research and teaching interests
- folk narrative and fairy-tale history
- translation and transnationalism
- history of folklore studies
- folklore and fairy tale in popular theatre (including British pantomime, commedia dell'arte, vaudeville, and Theatre for Young Audiences)
- performance theory, genre theory, narratology
- children's folklore and children's literature
- women's writing (ethnographic and literary)
- material culture, costume, craft, and textiles
2018. Staging Fairyland: Folklore, Children's Entertainment, and Nineteenth-Century Pantomime. Detroit: Wayne State University Press.
2015. Feathers, Paws, Fins, and Claws: Fairy-Tale Beasts co-edited with Christine A. Jones, illustrated by Lina Kusaite. Detroit: Wayne State University Press.
2012. Marvelous Transformations: An Anthology of Fairy Tales and Contemporary Critical Perspectives co-edited with Christine A. Jones. Peterborough ON: Broadview Press.
- 2003. National Dreams: The Remaking of Fairy Tales in Nineteenth-Century England. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press. [paperback edition, 2004]
2014. " L. Frank Baum, Fairy-Tale Discourse, and the History of Folklore." The Folklore Historian 30, 7-22.
2014. "Paving Divergent Paths: Reflections of the Thirtieth Anniversary of Jack Zipes's Fairy Tales and the Art of Subversion" with Christine A. Jones. The Folklore Historian 30, 5-6.
2013. "Slaying Blunderboer: Cross-Dressed Heroes, National Identities and Wartime Pantomime." Marvels & Tales: Journal of Fairy Tale Studies 27 (1), 52-64.
2012. "Fairy Gold: The Economics and Erotics of Fairy-Tale Pantomime." Marvels & Tales: Journal of Fairy Tale Studies 26 (2), 153-177.
2007. "Unruly Tales: Ideology, Anxiety, and the Regulation of Genre." Journal of American Folklore 120, 381-400.
2000. "Otherness and Otherworldliness: Edward Lane's Ethnographic Treatment of the Arabian Nights." Journal of American Folklore 113, 164-184.
- 1998. "Everything is in the Telling: Ambiguities of Voicing in T. Crofton Croker's Fairy Legends and Traditions of the South of Ireland." The Folklore Historian 15, 14-30.
book chapters and encyclopedia entries
2019. "Long ago and far away: historicizing fairy-tale discourse." In Teaching Fairy Tales, edited by Nancy L. Canepa. Wayne State University Press.
2016. "Identity." In Folktales and Fairy Tales Traditions and Texts from around the World, 2nd Edition, edited by Anne E. Duggan and Donald Haase, with Helen J. Callow, 473-474). Santa Barbara CA: ABC-CLIO.
2011. "Fluid Identities: Madame d'Aulnoy, Mother Bunch, and Fairy-Tale History." In The Individual and Tradition: Folkloristic Perspectives, edited by Ray Cashman, Tom Mould, and Pravina Shukla, 249-262. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.
2008. "Clothing." In The Greenwood Encyclopedia of Folktales and Fairy Tales edited by Donald Haase, 217-218. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press.
2008. "Edward W. Lane (1801-1876)." In The Greenwood Encyclopedia of Folktales and Fairy Tales edited by Donald Haase, 557. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press.
2008. "Pantomime." In The Greenwood Encyclopedia of Folktales and Fairy Tales edited by Donald Haase, 725-726. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press.
1998. "Style," with Richard Bauman. In Encyclopedia of Folklore and Literature edited by Mary Ellen Brown and Bruce A. Rosenberg,629-632. Santa Barbara CA: ABC-CLIO.