kitchen table math, the sequel: help desk - fables and fairy tales

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

help desk - fables and fairy tales

I'm teaching a freshman composition course based on fables, folk tales, fairy tales, and creation myths, and I need some essays or passages for students to read and possibly use for text reconstruction exercises.

Any ideas?

I've amassed a collection of academic papers, but they won't work for my class.

Here's the kind of thing I'm thinking of:

Why did Aesop use animals instead of humans in fables?

Practicing Medicine Can be Grimm Work by Valerie Gribben


FedUpMom said...

Catherine, I hope you don't use the Aesop essay as an example for your class because, IMHO, it stinks.

It's written by someone with no concept of history who just speculates about why Aesop wrote what he did. You could learn a lot more by reading the Aesop article in wikipedia.

Anonymous said...

1) Why is the 3rd son always the hero?

2) Describe the importance of being clever to the story?

3) What elements of the society is the main character rebelling against?

My favorite place for childrens stories was 398.2 in nonfiction.

John said...

Not sure whether it's any help, Catherine, but Jack Zipes' Oxford Companion to Fairy Tales: The Western fairy tale from medieval to modern has been a huge help to me in teaching a course on children's lit. to English undergrads.

FedUpMom said...

Catherine -- why not just go to the source and give them some folk tales? Most of them are written in a very old-fashioned style with clear paragraphs, if that's what you're looking for.

FedUpMom said...

As for, "why is the 3d son always the hero?", watch The Godfather!

Crimson Wife said...

Peggy Orenstein had an interesting discussion of the original Grimms' Fairy Tales in her book Cinderella Ate My Daughter. I don't agree with everything Ms. Orenstein has to say, but it did make me think about the issue. Maybe have your students read an excerpt from that?

SteveH said...

How about "The Tales of Beedle the Bard".

"Rowling's new introduction also comments on the personal lessons she has taken from the Tales, noting that the characters in Beedle's collection 'take their fates into their own hands, rather than taking a prolonged nap or waiting for someone to return a lost shoe,' and 'that magic causes as much trouble as it cures.'"

Compare Grimm, Aesop, and Rowling. Ask the students to write their own stories. However, this might be more about analysis than composition.

Lsquared said...

Tolkein's "On Fairy Stories" Is quite good and readable if I remember correctly.

Catherine Johnson said...

Good grief - I am seeing this NOW -- talk about not being able to keep up with comments.


So glad to hear that Jack Zipes is useful - I've been circling him for some time now - and Lsquared: I hadn't even heard of the Tolkien piece.

And Peggy Orenstein: I would have steered clear without the nod from Crimson Wife. (In fact, I didn't even know she'd referenced Cinderella.)

Will look into all of this pronto - THANK YOU!

Catherine Johnson said...

btw, I think my single favorite work on fairy tales is the Darnton piece in The Great Cat Massacre (may also be in the Norton book by Tatar): Peasants Tell Tales.

It's incredible.

Catherine Johnson said...

LOVE the questions - thank you!

My students will all like the question about the third son and the importance of being clever.

Darnton's essay has a great deal to say about French cleverness....

Catherine Johnson said...

I've ordered the Jack Zipes book.