Edutainment Strategies: Sesame Street’s Story Book Community School

The first of four case study posts about my presentation for Western States Folklore Society’s Annual Meeting in April 2018. Introduced here, the presentation was titled Princess and the Letter P: Fairy Tales and Edutainment in Preschool Television. The other case studies can be found here. Sesame Street started in 1969 as one of the most groundbreaking shows in preschool television, originating the form of the pedagogical, publicly funded children’s show. The creators of Sesame Street had everything from a “pedagogical […]

Preschool Edutainment and Fairy Tales: The Groundwork

My last big project was about fairy tale mashup episodes in children’s television, and took a large-scale data approach. In choosing a new research topic, I remained interested in the phenomenon that, currently, fairy tales are marketed as “kid stuff.” If marketers want adults to watch their content, they usually sell it as either “gritty” or as nostalgic. TV uses fairy tales because the audience is familiar with the plots and motifs, but what about a child’s possibly first interaction […]

The ‘Why’ of Fairy Tales and Animation

Nearly half of the data points in our FTTV database come from animated shows or specials, including the oldest entries in our database, the 1922 animated short “Cinderella” (video) and “Three Little Pigs” from 1933 (video). This led me to a question. What is it about fairy tales that lends them so well to animation? Furthermore, what is it about animation that makes it such a great medium for telling fairy tale stories? As Paul Wells states in Animation: Genre […]

Young Meets Old: Contemporary Children’s Television and Traditional Grown-Up Fairy Tale Characters

Television for children has characters that are children, right? It seems like an obvious assumption. The most clear way to communicate to a viewer that a show is for children, besides using puppets or animation, is to have the characters on the screen be the same age as the target audience. How does this relate to fairy tales? Fairy tales have a tendency to be loosely structured and contain few details by way of location, age, or other characteristics. The […]

Girls and Boys and Animals: Graphing Patterns in Mash-up Episodes

One of the unique elements of TV is that they don’t have to market towards a specific group to buy their product, the way movies, books, or toys do, so they work to make a product that will attract as many viewers as possible across a much wider spectrum. Though children’s TV is created with children specifically in mind, the shows want to attract as many different types of children as possible. This makes studying gender patterns of characters and tales […]

But HOW are the Fairy Tales Mashed-up in Children’s Television?

Fairy Tale Mashups. We all know about them. We’ve all seen them in many forms, from books to movies to TV. Fairy tale narratives are so short, simple, and familiar that it’s easy to combine them to make something new and fun out of these old stories. Studying the ‘why’ of fairy tale mashups gets to the heart of what we do at the FTTV project, but this particular post is about the ‘how’. HOW are these fairy tales mashed […]