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.

Monday, March 19, 2012

blog 7

Before this lecture I knew almost nothing about sign language and the deaf culture in America and around the world.  I knew that it existed but never knew about all the complexities that it was composed of. Through the lecture I learned a tremendous amount about the way the deaf culture interprets and reads fairytales.  I previously thought that story telling in ASL would be a literal translation each sign would represent a word and the storytelling would be the same every time it was told. However I was fairly surprised to find out that each person telling the fairy tale uses their own unique signs and it’s not an exact translation but rather a creative interpretation of the story. This is similar to the way fairy tales are told in real life with each person putting their own creative spin on the tale and it is different every time it is told.
 I thought it was very interesting that deaf community had all the same intricate nuances in their language as spoken language. Instead of voice inflections to portray feelings such as humor or sarcasm they used motions and facial expressions to demonstrate the same emotions.  I also learned that people in the deaf community can also demonstrate literary devices that are usually demonstrated through spoken language such as rhyming and rhythm through their signs. Overall I found this presentation very insightful and interesting because I knew relatively nothing before it. It enhanced my understanding of fairytales by showing that a person does not have to hear or read a fairy tale to enjoy it but it can be signed and still be as creative and emotional.   

Monday, March 5, 2012

Midterm Blog

For this blog I read all the blog posts for my classmate Adela. I truly enjoyed reading all of her blogs. I think that she did an excellent job incorporating her own thoughts and experiences in her life with the material we learned in class. In each of her blog posts she was very thorough and covered exactly what the assignment asked for and expanded on it greatly. Through her blogs I felt like I got to know her much better as a person as her voice and character emanated through her writings.
 It was interesting delving into to an alternate perspective, different from my own, of each of the fairy tales we read in class. Although she is from a different country and our lives have been quite different, we still had some of the same ideas and feelings about the material we read in class. Adela also incorporated many images and videos into her blog that enhanced the reading experience and helped me understand her perspective better. The only constructive criticism of her blog that I have is although she conveyed her thoughts excellently I believe that the posts were very long and that a more concise approach would entice the reader more effectively.  

Blog 6

For this blog I will be comparing and contrasting the known fairy tale “Snow White” with the music video “Sonne” by Rammstein. The music video and the story do share some similarities in characters, some of the events that occur, and symbols.
 For example both the music video and the story have the characters of Snow White and the dwarfs. The events that occur in both the music video and the story are Snow White staying with the dwarfs, Snow White dying, the dwarfs putting her in a glass coffin and placing her on top of a hill and Snow White being brought back to life after she has died. An important symbol that both the music video and the story share is the red apple.
Although they seem to be similar in some regards, the music video and the story are in actuality, vastly different. In the fairy tale the queen plays a vital role in the plot and she is absent in the music video. This is a major difference however the biggest difference between the music video and the story is the character of Snow White and her interactions with the dwarfs. In the fairy tale she is a very innocent and submissive young girl who is naïve. She helps the dwarfs around the house doing chores and certainly does not tell them what to do. In the music video Snow White seems to be the exact opposite of what she was perceived to be in the fairy tale. She is the master of the dwarfs who slave for her and listen to her every whim. She seems to be very self-absorbed, controlling, and dominant. She makes the dwarfs mind gold for her which she uses as drugs. It is her drug use that ultimately leads to her death in the video as compared to the fairy tale where it was the queen who led to her death.
I liked the music video better because it provides a new and interesting spin on an old fairy tale. I am used to hearing the same story of Snow White and this is a nice change. I also liked the music and how the story and characterization of the characters were portrayed without any words or text narration.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

blog 5

 In both stories the god or spirit had a strong love for the youngest child but decided to conceal their true identity in fear that the youngest child would not love them anymore. Once the youngest child disobeyed commands by attempting to discover the true identities of their lovers, their lovers disappeared. The youngest children then had to go on different quests in order to find their loves and regain their trust and favor.

The youngest children each went on three different quests.  After they each completed their various tasks they were reunited with their lovers. The god or spirit used these tasks as a test to test the love of the youngest children. Once they were able to complete their tasks this proved that they really loved the god or spirit and that the god or spirit could show their true form around the youngest child and still be loved.  

For class this week we read various versions of the story beauty and the beast.  In this blog post I will be comparing The Frog Princess with Cupid and Psyche. These both fit the beauty and the beast mold and were similar in various ways but also had some subtle differences. For example both of the stories started out with three children of a king the two elder children finding love and the youngest left in sorrow and despair. However once the youngest child found love it was a special type of love not with another human but rather with a god or a spirit.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Blog 4

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This is a social cartoon reflecting little red riding hood shooting the wolf in the head with a gun. I chose this cartoon because I thought it was funny and it related to the Roald Dahl adaptation to the fairy tale in which little red riding hood shoots the wolf. This cartoon symbolizes a modern take on the classical Red Riding Hood fairytale. Society at the time when this fairy tale was originally written woman were very passive and did not have much say in society. The original fairy tale mirrors this by making little red riding hood extremely passive throughout the entire story. She listens to everything the wolf says and does not and cannot think on her own. In the end of the fairy tale the she ultimately succeeds by again being passive and letting the hunter come and save her.  

This cartoon, by Steve Bright, depicts the exact opposite of the socialization present in the original. Instead the carton depicts the practices in today’s society where woman know that being passive does not always work but instead they need to take matters into their own hands and do things themselves. The fact the little red riding hood had a gun and shoots the wolf exemplifies how in modern society the notion of passive female has all but dissolved and they can be just as capable as men. I liked this cartoon a lot because it shows the importance of teach children about gender equality and that being helpless will never get you anywhere.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Blog 3

Since the origin of fairy tales readers have been attempting to understand a deeper meaning to the seemingly elementary text. The reader might wonder why so many fairy tales have similar elements and what functions do they serve. One method used to uncover these deeper meanings is through psychological analysis of the fairy tales. Through this intricate analysis the reader can comprehend the true purpose of the fairy tales and their effect on the inner consciousness.  
There have been various psychological theorists who have applied their own unique psychoanalysis to fairy tales. The two most prominent psychologists were Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung. Although both very prominent in their analyses, they each had a varying standpoint and technique. For example Jung was more focused on the effect of fairy tales collectively on all people while Freud was focused on the effects on individuals.
Jung believed that every fairy tale needed to have archetypes. Archetypes are symbols or elements in fairy tales that every human can identify with and has an emotional response to. He believed that all humans had a collective unconscious that stemmed from a primal memory. This unconscious caused all people reading the fairy tales to have similar emotional responses to similar archetypes in every fairy tale regardless of their time, culture, or geography.
Freud’s theories focused on the individuals responses to fairy tales. He believed that each person had their own unique response to the fairy tales based on their own inner self. According to his theory there were three distinct subdivisions of the human mind. The Id was the part of the mind focused on pleasure and was often irrational, the Ego was focused on rational ways to get what one desires, and the Super Ego was focused on the morality of ones decision to acquire what they desired.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Blog post 2

Fairy tales are derived from the oral tradition of every culture throughout time. They play an integral role in the culture of a society serving various important functions. Since they are passed down through oral tradition there is no single author but rather a new author through each new reinvention of the work.  Fairy tales are unique in the fact that each time the story is retold it is molded to fit the zeitgeist of the audience. However the main morphology and themes of the tale stay consistent. These structures are known as archetypes and they serve as the constant backbone of the story even if the details change.
 Essential elements that are consistent throughout fairy tales include a strong influence on magic, fantasy, and enchanted beings. Almost all fairy tales also incorporate main characters such as a hero, villain, and helpers along the way. Fairy tales differ from most other work of fiction in that although they contain elements of the fantastic, they are written in a bland and dry manner that does not deviate from the direct point. There is no poetic language or vivid descriptions of events rather just exactly what is occurring. There is also no internal narration of the characters thoughts or actions.
Despite having unrealistic magical elements fairy tales are meant to be read in a literal, face-value sense in which the reader does not question the occurrences but just accepts them to be facts. Another unique function of fairy tales is although they do not seem to be possible in the real world they often serve as a relatable solution to real world problems.  Many times fairy tales function as a didactic form of literature that people can utilize in their own lives.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Blog Entry 1

I signed up for this class for various reasons. The first reasons were that I needed to take an SIS course this semester and I also needed to take an honors course this semester so taking this class killed two birds with one stone. The second major reason I took this class was because it seemed much more interesting than the other honors courses offered this semester. Another reason I decided to take the class was because a few of my friends were taking it as well. Another reason is that the class would balance out my schedule by providing a nice break from all my science classes.
What I would like to accomplish in this course is to understand fairytales in a new light by analyzing them and truly understanding the deeper complex meaning behind them. As a child I would read and enjoy fairytales and simply take them at face value but now as a young adult I can discover the different underlying themes, motifs, and functions they serve in children and society as a whole.
My favorite fairy tale is The Little Engine that Could. It was a great story about a train that originally could not get over a mountain to deliver toys to the children. However through determinations and self-confidence he willed his way up the mountain and eventually achieved his goal. This is my favorite fairy tale because the theme resonates with my life. I am very self-confident and determined and I know with hard work even the most impossible sounding tasks can be attained.