Hans Christian Andersen and The American Dream in Twentieth Century US Animations

The Department of Scandinavian presents a talk by:

Sara Bruun Jørgensen, PhD Fellow at the Hans Christian Andersen Center, University of Southern Denmark, Odense. PhD in the project Hans Christian Andersen as World Literature funded by the Independent Research Fund Denmark´s elite grant: Sapere Aude. Author of the Mapping Andersen projects: Hans Christian Andersen in Portugal (2019), Hans Christian Andersen in the U.S. (2021) and Hans Christian Andersen in Norway and Sweden (2022).

In this talk, Sara Bruun Jørgensen delves into adaptations of Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tales in twentieth-century American popular culture from the perspectives of Critical Heritage Theory and Adaptation Theory. Andersen’s fairy tales have inspired a wide range of popular American adaptations for film and television since the early 20th century. Starting with Disney’s 1934 animated short The Brave Tin Soldier, Jørgensen aims to uncover the tensions and pressures at play in adaptations of Andersen’s fairy tales and examines how they reflect the social, political, and cultural contexts in which they are embedded and disseminated. Each adaptation is created through a process of selecting and visualizing specific elements of the original tale. In these processes, the stories are adapted and adjusted to the culture and time in which the adaptation is produced. Jørgensen argues that Andersen’s fairy tales have a function, in which people mirror themselves and tell stories about themselves through them. The fairy tales come to stand for something: they become carriers of identity myths. Focusing on one of the most well-known American identity myths, the American Dream, Jørgensen investigates how its cultural and historical development can be traced in Andersen’s fairy tales and furthermore reflects different ideas about what constitutes America as a nation and the collective identity of Americans over time.

With questions or accommodation/mobility requests, please contact issa@berkeley.edu