‘So she ran off the path and plunged into the woods’: Venturing into the Liminal Land of the Literary Fairy Tale

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper


This paper will examine how postmodern literary fairy tales use the liminal space between tales to encourage transgressive reading. In exploring Angela Carter’s complicated multivocality within The Bloody Chamber (1979), Emma Donoghue’s vagrant heroines in Kissing the Witch (1997), and the extra-narrative affairs of Soman Chainani’s The School for Good and Evil series (2013-2020); this paper will chart a trajectory of postmodern metafictive strategies informed by shifting attitudes towards the fairy tale, the author, and transmedial storytelling. These attitudes culminate in the increasing authority, and participation, of the reader in (re)constructing the fairy tale. This is expressed through the progressive movement of fairy tale narratives into the liminal space – or ‘gutter space’ – between tale structures, as seen within my chosen texts. To explain this correlation, I will adopt and utilise comics scholarship’s ‘gutter theory’, the mechanics of which are mirrored in our reading of literary fairy tale collections.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusUnpublished - 9 Jun 2023
EventNorm and Transgression in the Fairy-Tale Tradition: (Non)Normative Identities, Forms, and Writings - Brown University, Providence, United States
Duration: 7 Jun 20239 Jun 2023


ConferenceNorm and Transgression in the Fairy-Tale Tradition
Country/TerritoryUnited States
Internet address


  • fairy tales
  • children's literature
  • Young Adult
  • Angela Carter
  • Contemporary Literature

Cite this