The Medieval Entertainment Channel: The Shrek Quartet

  • Kathleen Coyne Kelly
Part of the The New Middle Ages book series (TNMA)


For the past several years, whenever I teach Chaucer’s “Wife of Bath’s Tale” (ca. 1385), students say, “it’s like Shrek.”1 At a cultural moment in which everything is available everywhere at once, what we formerly thought of as a unidirectional (that is, chronological) arrow of influence and allusion has morphed into a matrix of multiplying and constantly reorganizing relations and affinities. Princess Fiona (Cameron Diaz), by day beautiful, human, and white,2 and by night ugly, ogre, and green, is a Loathly Lady analogue that people encounter in the realm of pop culture before meeting, if ever meeting, her medieval sisters. Fiona and the Loathly Lady live in what Mikhail Bakhtin calls “great time”: in which cultural productions break through the boundaries of their historical moment, and, I would add, swirl around in a kaleidoscope of new, never to be repeated, patterns.3


Fairy Tale Fairy Godmother Ideological State Apparatus Cultural Moment Queer History 
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Copyright information

© Gail Ashton and Daniel T. Kline 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kathleen Coyne Kelly

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