Monday, May 7, 2012

blog 14

Through this semester I learned a lot about fairy tales, much more than I ever expected I could. In the beginning of the class we read and analyzed fairy tales that many people were familiar with through Disney or through bedtime stories. Going into this class I already knew about the Grimm versions of many of these European tales but through the class I learned about the many other versions of each tale. Every fairy tale was unique in its own way and each pertaining to the zeitgeist of the place and time it was written. I found it very interesting how each tale was molded differently to fit acceptable social standards of the time period however still maintaining the same frame and plot of the stories.

I also learned about many of the deeper meanings of the fairytales I thought I was familiar with. We analyzed these fairytales from a variety of different viewpoints such as feminist religious social psychological etc. Through these different perspectives I learned that each fairy tale had completely different underlying themes and messages that I did no recognize as a child but have grown to appreciate now looking back at them.

After we analyzed all of the familiar tales we moved on to other European tales that I was not familiar with. We analyzed these tales in a similar fashion as the other. However I did not nearly enjoy these analyses as much. This is because I could not compare the feelings for the stories I had once analyzing them, to the ones from my child hood, because I had not previously read them.

My favorite part of the course was the guest lecturers and all of the tales we learned about from around the world. I really enjoyed how each culture had their own unique fairy and folk tales but all of the tales shared similarities and motifs. Growing up reading only “western” fairy tales, I think the experience of reading the fairy tales from all other places in the world was extremely interesting and eye opening. We learned so much about a culture simply through their fairy and folktales I never previously thought that so much information can be extracted from a single tale.

Monday, April 30, 2012

blog 13

In class Dr. Deveny presented a lecture on the movie “Pans Labyrinth”. I really enjoyed his lecture because it was much different than any of the other lectures we have heard this semester. All of the other lectures that the numerous other teachers presented to us were about various fairy, folk, or cultural tales from a certain area or culture. These lectures were more focused on the common themes and elements in the tales that were reflected in the certain cultures. There was no specific time period of these stories because they transcended many different time periods. In addition most of the fairy and folk tales that we discussed in the other lectures were not grounded in historical events but rather in tall tales.

 Dr. Deveny’s lecture on Pans Labyrinth was much different because he discussed only one story during one time period. The lecture related to us how the movie mirrored actual occurrences in Spain 1940’s. I thought it was very innovative to incorporate actual events into a fairy tale. We have not seen that in any fairy tales we have read this semester, but rather fictitious occurrences in faraway lands. Although I did not like the film very much I did enjoy the lecture because it helped me better understand the underlying motives of the movie. Through the lecture I discovered that almost all of Propps fairy tale functions were present in the movie. Before the lecture I didn’t really see Pans Labyrinth as a fairy tale but more of a juxtaposition of historical fiction with a bit of fantasy. The film director showed, through the fairy tale elements, that even in the most dark and bleak times there is still room for imagination and hope.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

blog 12

In class we had a guest speaker, Dr. Greg Alles, who presented a lecture titled “Myths and Legends of the Ādivāsīs in India”. I thoroughly enjoyed this lecture because it was told from firsthand experience through funny stories and riveting pictures. For this class we read the story “Rāma in the Rāmāyāna” however we did not talk about the story during this class. Instead Dr. Alles talked about many other stories, but more than the stories he talked about the culture and country of India.  At first I wondered why he was giving so much background information and not delving into the stories right away like most of the other guest lecturers we have had. I found out through the lecture that he did this because the culture and the country was so influential in the stories, more so than any other cultures fairy tales that we have seen.

The many different cultural rituals that take place in India have stories that go with them. These origin stories describe how things came to be and why all of the rituals are the way they are and the purpose of each step. The stories he shared with us were not so much fairy tales because they didn’t have the elements of fantasy and magic but were rather more similar to folktales. They were like folk tales because they explained different parts of a culture and were passed through oral tradition to many generations. The stories were much different than European fairy tales because they did not have a moral or were not used to help civilize children. The tales in India were instead for all ages and did not have a moral but rather an explanation.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

blog 11

In class this week we read stories about written by the author Hans Christian Anderson. His stories had a much different feel then most of the other fairytales we have read this year. His fairytales did not conclude with happy endings like most of the other fairy tales we have read, but rather with demoralizing conclusions that leave the reader empathetic to a tragic occurrence. His fairy tales that we read both had overlying themes of trying to achieve an almost unobtainable goal of self-betterment. In the little mermaid the main character tries to become a human but ultimately fails and in the red shoes the main character tries to get red shoes like the princess but that ultimately lead to her demise. This theme is prevalent in his stories because it mirrors the occurrences in his own life in which he tried to become a member of the upper-class coming from a poor family and never was able to achieve this goal.

 Another major difference in Andersen’s tales as compared to the others we have read is the use of magic. In most other tales magic or fantasy is used however in Andersen’s there is little to no magic used at all. He replaces the magic with divine power from a god. This was used by Anderson as a socializing agent because he was a very spiritual and religious man. A third difference between Andersen’s tales and the other we have read is the descriptive narration of the tales. In most of the classic fairy tales there was little to no description of characters or setting. However in Andersen’s fairy tales there was lots of characterization and descriptive imagery of the settings.
Andersen’s tales were very unique because unlike most other tales we have read his tales were his own original works. The other tales we have read had many different versions from different authors because they were based on other folktales but Andersen’s stories were completely new tales that he made up in order to suit his own agenda and needs.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

blog 10

I thoroughly enjoyed Dr. Ochieng’s presentation on folktales from Kenya. The stories he shared were very unique because they came from a completely different part of the world and completely different culture then many of the fairy tales we have read in class. Most of the fairytales we have read I have been familiar with due to Disney and other cultural baggage but the stories Dr. Ochieng told were completely new and original to me. Before I get into the stories and how unique they were I would like to highlight how intriguing the manner in which the stories were told. I liked how he made us respond to his calls before he told the story to captivate our attentions and make us feel like we were a part of the story telling. He then turned off the lights which provided another interesting and different element to the story telling. It set the mood and helped everyone concentrate on only the sound of his voice with no other distractions.

Not only was the way in which he shared the folk tales captivating but the stories that he told were extremely captivating as well. The stories were different from most of the stories we have read this year because the main characters were almost always animals as opposed to humans. Another difference is that the folktales he told almost never involved magic or enchantment as most of the stories we have read often do. These stories were similar to the Jewish folktale stories in that not much magic was used to solve problems but was replaced instead by the wit and cunning of the main character. My favorite story was the one with the turtles and the cooking stone. The main character came up with a unique and cunning way to solve a big problem. I think that quick thinking and wittiness is an important message to teach the children listening to these tales. These folktales were also told through oral tradition as opposed to being written down like many of the European tales were.

blog 9

In class we read several Jewish folktales this week. I personally enjoyed them because being Jewish; I have heard some of these folktales before in temple from my rabbi. I can also identify with some of the themes that are prevalent in almost all of the folktales. I believe that these Jewish folktales are unique and distinct but also share some similarities and differences with all of the other fairytales and folktales we have read this semester.

There are several components that make the Jewish folktales unique and different from the rest of the tales we have read this semester. First and foremost the origin of these tales is not from Germany or a specific country like most of the tales we have read but rather it’s from a specific religion and culture of people spread around the world. Therefore these stories most likely did not have a single cultural influence but rather many diverse ones and could be told from various different perspectives during the same time period. The same folktale can be told all around the world and have the same significance despite the location.

Another key difference from these stories, compared to the others we have read, is the main character. In most other stories we have read the protagonist is often a child or a naïve person who ends up succeeding through the use of magic or enchantment. However in the Jewish folktales the main character is a rabbi who solves problems himself through wisdom and faith.  A third component of Jewish folktales that make them unique is the power of god in the tales. Although in many of the tales the rabbi are very wise and cunning and can often outsmart the oppression they face, they still put all of their faith in god to help them solve their problems. This is different than many other tales which rely on magic from a sorcerer or a witch.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

blog 8

Cinderella might be a nice bedtime story to read to your children to give them sweet dreams of becoming rich or successful through the use of magic, but this will just give them a false and disillusioned sense of reality, and most likely a terrible work ethic.  It is time to burst their naive bubble because we all know that in the real world, short of winning the lottery, this flat out does not happen.  No magic fairy god mother is going to wave her wand and suddenly a person become successful. Success is much deeper than that and there are many components that make up success. The success of an individual lies solely in their own hands and not that of any outside magic. In order to be successful one has to have a great work ethic, be self-motivated, determined and willing to make sacrifices. 

In the stories we read Cinderella was sitting back being passive and waiting for her situation to drastically change. Fortunately for her she lives in a fairytale and she became rich and successful through magic.  In reality a person cannot be so passive and expect success instead they need to be active and take the initiative in their own hands.  The stories we read served as hope and inspiration to people in bad situations that they would be able to get out. However I think that instead of the use of magic that the stories should have portrayed the main character using hard work and determination to better her situation because this mirrors real life much more accurately.