Thursday, May 9, 2013

Final Reflection

         Throughout a semester with fairy tales and folktales around the world, I have learned a lot from this class. The class provides me with multiple ways of approaching the materials, enables me to study in different means. Especially, I learned a lot from the class discussions, when questions are brought up and every one uses what they have studied previously to give their own opinions. The class is not only discussion itself but also includes movies or guest lectures. Each guest lecture brought a different perspective to the study of fairy tales. Particularly I like the lecture by Dr. Ochieng that he taught us how to dance and sing and brought us closer to the oral folktale tradition in Kenya. Also, weekly blog entry, reading books and researching for the term paper require individual learning and cooperate greatly with what I did in class.
In this class, I was introduced about the fairy tales around the world: Europe, African, Asia, but the most emphasis is the western fairy tales. Fairy tales are analyzed based on traditional, historical, sociological or feminist point of view. The readings are also very helpful in the way that they present the ideas or themes behind the stories, help me understand the moral lessons that the tales want to teach people. Furthermore, they also compare the materials from the original stories with versions from Disney movies. The class discussions put an insight on several motifs that have meanings behind, helping me understand the literary aspect of the text.
The readings are somewhat challenging. I usually spend a long time reading the materials because I want to understand them thoroughly. In fact, I enjoy those readings that analyze the stories or those introduction sections by Tatar, while those that contain theories (by von Franz) need more time and reading skills.
Overall, I really like this class because it offers what I cannot have from other courses in my major. I read and gain more knowledge about the fairy tales, which are indispensable in my childhood. My reading and analytical skills are much improved, but more importantly, this semester, I do have a great journey with fairy tales and have been filled with great imagination about the fairy tales’ characters.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Storytelling tradition from Kenya




I really like the lecture by Professor Ochieng in the way he presented the folktale and storytelling tradition from Kenya in diverse forms. He combined telling folktales, presenting information and performing song/dance in an appropriate way that the class could take part in various activities and learn about Kenyan folktales from different aspects and perspectives. 


He told many folktales which originated from peasant culture. The stories evolve around daily activities of people and also mention domesticated animals that are close to human. He told stories by using his voice and body language, which expressed the difference of oral tales from those told by other means. Oral stories in Kenyan community are usually told by one person, gathering around is the audiences. They are set at night when everything is shadowed that the tellers can convey the entire details and messages. African folktales illustrate the community’s origin, social foundations and reasons behind all of their beliefs, and particularly, folktales in the oral form help audiences appreciate the whole stories better. 

As knowing those African tales by listening directly, I feel that the stories are more imaginable and realistic. Especially, that Dr. Ochieng asked us to dance and sing which made people closer and somehow brought the atmosphere of the setting where the Kenyan folktales are told to the classroom.
Not only having an idea about how the storytelling tradition in Kenya is, I also know about the significances of stories. They all celebrate wit and quick thinking, raise the awareness of community’s and people’s history. Besides, they are also used for explaining some phenomenon. But on top of that, they always teach people some lessons about morality, ritual, values, attitudes or beliefs.
Overall the storytelling tradition in Kenya is very interesting to me that there is an interaction between the storyteller and audiences. Folktales are not only to convey lessons but also to connect people in the community together.




Sunday, April 21, 2013

Native American Folktales



Native American Folktales are different from stories originated in Europe in the way they put an emphasis on illustrating their tradition and custom. In many stories, they portray the way of surviving through hunting by men or embroidery by woman. They distinguish men and women, as in “How Men and Women Got Together”, men were stronger and taller, and they had sharp sticks to get more food, while women had fine tipis made of tanned buffalo hide and had beautiful clothes. It is quite obvious to see in many Native American stories that there exist many elements related to nature (plants, animals) as they were what people stay close with all the time. 


The magic element is mostly based on their belief. For example, they believed in another life after dead, and the soul transferred from the body of one to another. The spirit was the centre of their belief and had a great power and guided people to the right way of living. In Deer Hunter and White Corn Maiden, the spirit governed the life and dead of people, decided destiny and punished those whom were against the tradition. However, the magic did not dominate in any story that most of stories bring reader back to the reality in the end.
Many stories’ endings aim at explaining some nature phenomenon. The ending that Deer Hunter and White Corn Maiden were turned into two stars is to explain the origin of two stars in the west sky that they saw in the evening. The ending of “How Mosquitoes came to be” explains why those creature sting people to get blood and they begin the scratch themselves.
Native Americans live according to the tradition. For most of people, the tradition is the basis for them to live. Any story always involves a strong sense of community. People in Native American Stories live in a group, go on a journey to get recognition of the community or live for the benefit of other people in the community. This is also to pass down lesson and maintain the tradition so that young generation was aware of their ancestor and continue their way of living.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Cinderella




The well-known movie Pretty Woman portrays a story of a woman who steps from low-class to high –class by her charm and beauty. It has the motif on “rags to riches through magic and marriage”. It is quite a surprise for me as this movie is of the same motif with Cinderella’s.
This movie casts two main characters: Vivian and Edward. Vivian is a prostitute, which is considered a humiliating job. She is beautiful but is always in cheap and hooker-like clothes. It is truly a magic for her that she meets Edward Lewis, a wealthy businessman and he gives her an interesting offer that she can earn an amount of money that she never think of. Edward is absolutely a prince in the dream of tons of girls – he has money, a respectable job and overall he is such a gentle and charming man. The destiny makes a low-classed woman meet a high-class man and makes them fall in love. Edward loves her because she is special, lovely and kind-hearted and Vivian loves him as he sees her true personality and considers her as a person of worth. The process of Vivian’s transforming from rags to riches is seen through the change in her appearance. She wears beautiful dress, shoes and even precious jewelry. And the complete transformation is through marriage when Edward himself went to her place and gave her a bunch of roses which is the proof of love. 



In reality, this kind of story can happen, but not all the time. In Cinderella, Cinderella changes her destiny thanks to the magic that enables her to meet the charming prince and gets married to him. However, such magic is just in fairytales. In real life, some people can step from rags to riches because of their charm, and fortune, too. However, the importance is that charm or marriage itself is not enough. In order to reach success and happiness, one has to work hard and seeks for and makes the best of any opportunity that he/she has. Charms is just one of factors, not everything for anyone to reach success or happiness.