Thursday, December 9, 2010

Final Fairy Tale Blog

     As I come to the end of my my folk/fairy tale class, I have learned so much.  The best way to describe what I have learned is that I now know to "read between the lines".  These tales are so much deeper than just the words on the paper.  There are motifs and meanings hidden within the story.  In my opening blog I mentioned how I was one sided in my views of fairy tales.  Growing up on Disney, I really only knew these animated versions.  One written tale I knew though was that of Little Red Riding Hood.  To be honest, it was difficult for me at first to read these different tales and analyze them.  The idea that there are sexual inferences in these tales sort of corrupted my childhood images of these tales.  As the class continued, I became more accepting of these new tales.  
     I now know, that when I have children of my own, I will have them watch Disney movies, while also reading them other versions, such as the Brothers Grimm.  This class has taught me so much and I would highly recommend it to others.  Dr. Esa did a great job of bringing in guest speakers and organizing the material in a logical way.  
     I really enjoyed the second half of the semester, more-so than the first.  The first was interesting as they were mostly stories of which I know, but the second was even more compelling because it incorporated tales from around the world.  Different cultures amaze me and it is so interesting to me to see how these cultures use tales differently.
(World Mosaics Fairy Tale Logo 3)
     The story, Beauty and the Beast is still my favorite.  After all the tales, this one defeats them all.  The idea of love growing through obstacles is one that I connect with for some reason.  When I think about the story, I still tend to ignore the sexual symbols and “dirtiness” of the language.  I still love the innocence of childhood, and that is something that I will never try to forget, the “inner child” if you will.  This class was a great experience for me.  It taught me to not be so innocent, and also taught me about different cultures through the entertainment of tales. 

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Tales of Bangladesh

 This Thursday it was great to have Dr. Mian present to our class his powerpoint on "Folk and Fairy Tales from Bangladesh".  I have him for Physics this semester, and it was interesting to see him out of his "physics" element.  I really enjoy having him as a professor this semester.  He covered a lot about major characteristics of Bengali tales as well as the geography and terrain of the country and its influence on the tales.  The watercolor pictures he used to display the terrain and culture.  This is different than the other tales which do not specify the geography.  The tales from Germany did have the forest, but there are forests all over the world, so you can not specify the location.  

     This culture prominence is a major difference in the Bengali tales.  Some of these stories also have religious meanings to many people.  As we learned in Tuesday with the Ramayan, which also was mentioned by Dr. Mian in class on Thursday.  Some of these stories are believed to be true by the certain people.  
     Dr. Mian also made a point of “transformation”.  Although transformation was seen in other tales such as “The Beauty and the Beast” and “The Tiger’s Bride”, in these tales a character is transformed, but their identity is not hidden.  In “Neelkamal and Lakamal” the two titled characters were almost “reborn” and took on new names.  
This picture is from a Hindi movie featuring the character Neelkamal, who we read about in Bengali Tales.  This shows that they are interconnected and seen as religious figures and real.

I very much enjoyed Dr. Mian’s presentation.  The tales he told and links to other tales were interesting.  The wicked stepmother is interchangeable with the jealous co-wife.  Food is also a major part of these tales, such as the magical rice bowl, which was not seen in other tales.  These characters are all representative of the culture of Bangladesh.  
Dr. Esa, I would like to thank you again for having us at your home.  The cookies were delicious and thankyou for the gift.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Arabic Folktales

     This week, Professor Zaru came to speak to the class regarding Arabic Folktales.  From the beginning I realized that I had some misconceptions about exactly what countries were included in  the Arab world.  I was in the rough ballpark, but included some countries of which did not belong, as well as exclude some that did.  

     It was very interesting to see the connections of Professor Zaru's lecture with the lecture of Dr. Ochieng' K'Olewe's presentation last week on story telling in Kenya.  There were a lot af parallels between the two cultures.  Kenya, where Dr. K'Olewe is from borders two Arab countries, Sudan and Somalia.  This may be a reason for so many similarities.  In both of these places, the Arab world and Kenya, story telling is an art.  It is a tradition that is used as entertainment, insight, and to get a moral across.  

     I enjoyed when Professor Zaru talked about the magic carpet.  It is an item of which now that I think about, is very prominent in culture, even today.  It made me think of Vivien Deitz's presentation in which she talked about the magic lamp, and we had to imagine taking a magic carpet.  It is such a prominent part of culture.  There is a great song by Stepponwolf called "Magic Carpet Ride" .  
     This cartoon pokes fun at the American culture.  I think it is so funny because it mocks the fact that Americans use cheap linoleum in their homes rather than beautiful rugs.  It is just a witty cartoon.  Professor Zaru's presentation was very informative, leaving me with much more knowledge than I had entered with.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Story Telling Tradition from Kenya

     This week we had a presenter who I really enjoyed, Dr. Ochieng' K'Olewe.  It was great to have that storytelling experience in class.  Dr. K'Olewe was kind enough to share a handful of stories with the class, and even involve us through song!  I greatly enjoyed how he used the different stories to make his points of  importance: 
1) Entertainment (use of song)
2) Values, beliefs, rules, taboos
3) Morality
4) Wit
5) Understanding Phenomenon

     It was great to see how he used the audience and setting to make the best of his stories.  By turning the lights off and getting the audience involved through song made the stories even better.  The drum pictured above is one very similar to the one that Dr. K'Olewe used when we sang.  It really made a difference in helping me really paying attention to the stories and made the whole experience better.  I loved all the stories, and the goofy endings they all had.  The reasonings for the phenomenon were so funny, the tortoise shell, the ostrich neck, the rabbit ears, and others!

     The tale I liked the best was probably the one about how the tortoise got the pattern on its shell.  I thought it was a great way of explaining the back of a tortoise, something I never thought much into.  It displayed entertainment, values, morals, wit, and the understanding of a phenomenon.  The wit of the tortoise I found most entertaining.  The fact that he changed his name to, "all of you" was so witty and funny.  
     I also thought the riddles that Dr. K'Olewe told the class.  I found a website with some Kenyan Riddles, of which I thought were very funny.
The one I like the best is:

I have travelled with one who never tells me to rest                                         
Answer: My shadow

     All in all, Dr. K'Olewe was a great presenter, one of whom I will never forget.  It was just so entertaining and intrigued me to find other stories told in a similar fashion through youtube, but none matched the live tales of Dr. K'Olewe.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Presentation by Dr. Johnson-Ross

     This Thursday we had the pleasure of having Dr. Johnson-Ross present on the African American Storytelling Tradition.  The presentation left me feeling as though I did not know enough about American history as I should.  The Brownies Book was a publication of which I have never heard.   In learning more about this I began to think that I did not know much about a major part of American History.  I greatly enjoyed her presentation and the history of how folk tales were used in the African American culture.

     I was more expecting her presentation to focus on actual tales of which were prominent in African American culture, but it was much more interesting than that.  It was so interesting to learn how The Brownies Book used folk tales, games, and songs from around the world to help African Americans with the great segregation in America.  By sharing knowledge with each other in the African American community through publications such as this as well as among neighbors.
     These stories are unique in that all the stories that we read were featured around animals as characters unlike the European tales in which humans were the characters.  This may be, for one major reason, that animals are not discriminated by color, but they are just whatever animal they are.  There is no distinction of the frogs in, "How Mr. Crocodile Got His Rough Back" being of different races.  But rather, they all work together and trick the greater beast, being the crocodile.

     One thing that Dr. Johnson-Ross made a point of was the cover of The Brownies Book.  It was something that I initially disregarded as being relatively unimportant.  But after she pointed it out, I realized that the cover makes such a huge statement.  A statement that can not go unnoticed.  This cover that I found from January 1920 is representative of that.  It depicts a young African American woman wearing white and she looks just so happy.  It is showing that the future does bring happiness and unity. I greatly enjoyed her speech and hope to learn more about a part of history which lacked in my textbooks.  

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Rise Tails...A Reality or Fairy Tale Magic?

     For me, rise tales are hard to find in reality.  These rag to riches stories have many characteristics to them.  There is the character who, like Cinderella, is of a low class, possibly mistreated, and has a life changing experience that makes her life significantly better.  Cinderella meets a prince, and soon marries him and becomes instantly wealthy.  As I searched for real life rags to riches stories, they are difficult to find.  Many of the results are athletes, actors, and singers of whom all worked hard and used their own talents to get to where they are.  These people I would not categorize as a rise, rag to riches, tale.

     The above is a link to the "Top 10 Rags to Riches Stories".  I will agree that they do go from rags to riches, but not what I would characterize as a great rise tale like Cinderella.  All of these people worked hard to get to where they are today.  None of these people earned their wealth over night, but persisted to make their lives better.

     Here I attached a great song by Tony Bennett titled "Rags to Riches".  He is singing that he will be a king in his heart once he has this special girl to whom he is singing.  It gives a different view on this common phrase.  Riches is not in the wealth that one has, but the love and happiness that they have.

     The one rags to riches story I can think of is an old television show, "The Beverley Hillbillies". It is a story of a poor family that found oil on their land, and moved to Beverley Hills with their new fortune.  I still watch the show when I find it on television.  It always makes me laugh, as it is a great rag to riches story which pokes fun at the idea that the people who go to riches adjust automatically.  In this case, they do not.  They greatly enjoy their new money, but do not fit into their new society, which makes the show so comical.
     The other day my mom was actually telling me about a show she saw on T.V. about lottery winners.  The one man was homeless, living on the street, when he won the lottery.  One would expect him to go buy a house, but rather, he lives in a motel.  It was such a big difference and change, that he doesn't even know how to spend the money.  It can be a great change to win the lottery, or strike oil, but also difficult.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

My Midterm "Folktale and Art"

My Folktale:
     Once upon a time, there was a beautiful girl named Pearl.  She had a stepmother of   whom was jealous of her beauty and adoration by her father.  One day, the wicked stepmother took Pearl out into the woods to help collect berries, but abandoned her there.  Pearl, in her innocence, was terrified, but relieved when she met a bear.  This bear seemed pleasant enough, and offered to point her in the right direction.  She followed his direction, but the path he sent her on led her right to the bears home, where he was waiting with a pot on boil. 

     Pearl enters the home that was radiating the smell of freshly baked bread.  She is so hungry, she does not even notice the bear fixing up the pot and staring at her, mouth watering.  Just as Pearl is about to get thrown into the pot, she sees a spear and kills the bear with his own weapon.  Pearl ran off into the woods, jumping at every noise.  In the darkness, she ran into a tree.  The tree moaned and creaked, but seeing her distress, dropped a golden apple from its branches for the girl.   Then came a white dove out of the tree.  The lovely bird flew towards the castle of the King.  Pearl willingly followed with the golden apple.  

     As Pearl arrives at the castle, she meets with the King, telling the tale of her abandonment and of the bear.  The King is very intrigued by the story, but sees a glistening item in her pocket.  Angry because he thought her a thief, demanded she show what she had taken.  She revealed the golden apple to everyone's astonishment.  This apple was a magical token bestowed upon her by the tree of giving, something that only happens to the purest of heart.

The golden apple, and all that it symbolized, resulted in the King giving Pearl his son’s hand in marriage.  Her and her husband had a beautiful rose garden, and come spring, along with the flowers bloom, Pearl became pregnant and later had a beautiful son.  After some time, the story of Pearl’s pureness reached the evil stepmother.  Her jealously returned in full rage.  She went to the giving tree, hoping that she would receive a pure apple, but instead, the tree dropped a millstone on her head, killing her.


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The image that stuck out to me the most was one from, “The Tiger’s Bride”.  Beauty and the Beast has always been one of of my favorite tales, and this version was anything but the innocent tale that I always remembered from my childhood.  It may be that I am shy and conservative in the way I dress and behave, but it shocked me that the Tiger’s bride revealed herself out in the woods next to a river.  

     Even though revealing, the scene depicts bareness and trust.  It is at this moment that the Beauty, the Tiger’s Bride, opens herself up to the Beast, after he does the same.  It is such a tranquil and peaceful moment where they trusted each other and felt safe. This scene stood out most to me, firstly because of the shock, but then also due to  peace they felt with each other, and no judgement being passed amongst them.

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This is my "graffiti"of "Little Thumbling".  I really enjoyed the story and his journey (depicted by the boots) and chose to depict this journey through my picture.