Jennifer Schacker | College of Arts

Jennifer Schacker

Associate Professor
School of English and Theatre Studies
Phone number: 
x 53261
MacKinnon 433


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.

Most recently Schacker has collaborated with Belgian artist Lina Kusaite and long-time collaborator 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 also co-edited 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.

Jennifer 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.

Professor Schacker's current research and writing has been focused on the bawdy, rowdy, slapstick art of the Christmas pantomime, a form of theatre that draws heavily on a repertoire of fairy-tale characters, plot elements, and motifs -- and which was frequently referenced by early folklorists.  This research was supported by a SSHRC general research grant (2003-2007), and has appeared in the Journal of American Folklore, Marvels and Tales: Journal of Fairy-Tale Studies, and The Individual in Tradition (eds. Ray Cashman, Tom Mould, and Pravina Shukla, Indiana University Press, 2011).  She is now completing a book-length study with the working title of Cross-Dressed Tales: Victorian Folklore and Fairy-Tale Pantomime, examining the place of "panto" in the broader histories of Folklore study and the fairy tale.

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 also 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. With Christine A. Jones, she has begun a new project that examines clothing and other forms of material culture in folk and fairy tales.

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, craft, and textiles

Representative publications


  • 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

  • 2016. "Long ago and far away: historicizing fairy-tale discourse." In Teaching Fairy Tales, edited by Nancy L. Canepa.  Forthcoming from 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.  

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