Fat Fairies, Mash-Ups, and Advertisements: the Hypnotic Effect of TV Fairy Tales

Preston Wittwer, Ariel Peterson, and Lauren Redding after their presentations

On April 7-9, 2016, the FTTV Project Participants traveled from Provo, Utah to Berkeley, California to present their panel at the Western States Folklore Society Conference.

Morrison Hall housed the FTTV panel and also houses UC Berkeley’s Department of Music

Ariel Peterson was first up with her analysis of fairy godmothers that usually appear as fat fairies (whether in actual body type or symbolized by a round dress). Lauren Redding showed off her data about gender comparisons and inclusion of animal characters that she compiled from the FTTV Database. She was able to display many interesting graphs and statistics from her usage of digital humanities research.

Lauren Redding

Preston Wittwer astutely demonstrated why commercials use fairy tales and the subliminal messages they portray. Happily he was able to show all of his specially-selected commercial clips without technical difficulties. Dr. Jill Terry Rudy also presented the next day, April 9. She shared experiences working with folklorists at BYU and BYU-Hawaii, and contemplated the future of folklore scholarship.

Preston presenting (1)
Preston Wittwer

Since fairy tale scholars are often also folklorists, here are a few folkloric places to visit that our adventurers discovered during their stay in Berkeley:

Folklore Location 1: The night they arrived the FTTV group dined at Comal, an award-winning Mexican restaurant. The group loved the food and would recommend it to everyone!


Folklore Location 2: The group enjoying staying in the historic Faculty Club hotel with its magical landscaping.

The Faculty Club was constructed in 1902 and is still going strong

Campus itself at UC Berkeley is quite a fairy retreat with its wooded paths, lush underbrush, and towering trees.

After disembarking from BART, the group made its way across campus and admired the redwoods

Folklore Location 3: Just before their panel time the group enjoyed a delicious lunch at Freehouse, the notorious haven for Free Speech activists. The exterior architecture reminded them of German Fachwerkhäuse, and as fairy tale scholars it seemed appropriate to celebrate the Grimms and their contributions to fairy tales.

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Folklore Location 4: The FTTV panel took some time to admire Sather Tower (“The Campanile”).


UC Berkeley’s bell tower is over 18 stories high and is the 3rd tallest bell and clock tower in the world (Campanile means “bell and clock tower” in Italian).

Bird’s-eye view of the Bay Area from the tower

The group arranged a tour with assistant carillonneur Andrew Lampinen and were not disappointed by his skill at the carillon and his insider’s knowledge of the tower. Seeing this incredible instrument was a dream come true for Ariel.

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Andrew also treated the FTTV group to a view of the secret carillon practice rooms and carillon music archive.

Carillon practice keyboard

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Stayed tuned for glimpses of each presentation and more adventures with the FTTV project peeps in Berkeley!

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