- Tatterhood, edited by Ethel Johnston Phelps. This time, you’ll need to buy or borrow the book. It’s well worth owning.
- Please also read this version of the Cinderella tale, with a male protagonist, titled “The Seven Foals“:
Questions for the discussion board
- Write the citation for the third story in the Tatterhood collection in MLA format.
- Have you ever heard of any of these stories before? If so, which ones?
- Why do you think that these stories are so unknown? After all, they are of the same age and origin as the Grimms and Perrault, maybe even the Bible.
- Summarize the attitudes and teaching points about women in the traditional tales from Lessons One, Two, and Three. Are the teaching points different for boys than for girls?
- How are the Tatterhood stories different? Please cite specific stories as you respond.
- Here is the list of all the Tatterhood stories, with links and the countries of origin. Where do we need other stories so that the collection is global and representative of the whole world? Is the collection balanced, with all continents equally represented?
“Tatterhood” from Norway
“Unanana and the Elephant” from Southern Africa
“The Hedley Kow” from England
“The Prince and the Three Fates” from Sudan
“Janet and Tamlin” from Scotland
“What Happened to the Six Wives Who Ate Onions” Monache tribe, Native American
“Kate Crackernuts” from the Orkney Islands, United Kingdom
“Three Strong Women” from Japan
“The Black Bull of Norroway” from England
“Kamala and the Seven Thieves” from the Punjab
“The Giant Caterpillar” from Ivory Coast, Africa
“The Young Head of the Family” from China
“The Legend of Knockmany” from Ireland
“Kupti and Imani” from the Punjab
“The Lute Player” from Russia
“Clever Manka” from Central Europe
“The Search for the Magic Lake” from Ecuador
“Wild Goose Lake” from Norway
“The Enchanted Buck” from South Africa
“Mastermaid” from Norway
- Compare/contrast is a powerful tool in teaching and might be effective if we could publish the Cinderella/Cinderlad stories back to back. On the other hand, “The Seven Foals” is not well known. Should we include both stories in our textbook? Why or why not?
Please respond to at least one colleague in the class with a substantial response that shows your agreement/disagreement/questions about their answers to the questions for the lesson.
Evaluate each article. Is this a helpful article for college students wanting to know more about these less-known stories?
Fairy Tales and Gender Stereotypes (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/samara-green/fairy-tales-and-gender-st_b_1273872.html)
Sexist’ Sleeping Beauty and all the other fairy tales that may need updating for a new generation” https://www.telegraph.co.uk/women/life/sexist-slee…
Cinderella Was a Wuss This article is available in Course Materials, left column.
Evaluate the usefulness of each article using these each of these criteria:
From the Cornell University Olin Library site.
Extra for Experts
- Go to a public library and collect a list of feminist fairy tales. Compile a bibliography of at least eight such books, with complete bibliographical information and a 2-3 sentence summary of the action/plot in the book.
- Since “Little Mermaid,” Disney Studios have been more conscious of some of the anti-feminism in the earlier movies, like “Snow White,” “Sleeping Beauty,” and “Cinderella.” Watch “Beauty and the Beast” and compare details of what is in the movie with what is in Madame LePrince de Beaumont’s original version [first published just after Perrault was writing, and written very much for the court of Louis XIV]. Link:
Beauty and the Beast Folktales of Type (http://www.pitt.edu/~dash/type0425c.html)
3. As usual, find at least two web sites that provide good picture illustrations for this lesson. This assignment is a little more difficult than in the past, where the works have been well known and widely illustrated. You may wish to consider other illustrations that might emphasize the feminist point being made by these stories.
Both the Grimms and Perrault were writing down folktales they had heard or collected. In each case, they had the liberty of choosing which folktales to retell, and of reshaping these stories to their own ends. They were not bound by considerations of fairness–telling stories they did not like or did not approve of–or of scientific evidence, showing the full range of stories they collected or details or morals they did not approve of. Perhaps they were motivated by commercial values–what the reading public would buy.
Their stories reflect their own values–for the Grimms, the good being rewarded, and bad being punished; for Perrault, the rich being featured, and the sophisticated and politically well-connected doing well at the end, no matter how they behaved.
As you can see from the list of folktales you all know, stories about girls predominate. But these girls are victims and pretty passive-who could be more passive than Sleeping Beauty, who sleeps through most of her story? There are few stories of boys. The only girls who are active are the young ones, like Gretel, who saves her brother Hansel. Boys/men appear at the end and rescue the girls and marry them.
Around the world, stories of strong, resourceful women and girls have always existed. They just didn’t make it into print, perhaps because people wouldn’t buy them. Phelps’s collection engages in some retelling, particularly in dialog, as she admits. Phelps has her own bias, but she is clear what it is and makes it clear what it is to the reader in the preface.
But none of her stories is composed by the author/editor to make a point–they are genuine folk stories.
Much of the fairy tale collecting that has given us fairy tales today occurred in the Victorian period of the 19th century. The Victorian values of passivity of women and women as victims, led to the exclusion of these stories, if not from the scholarly collections, at least in the popular collections.
The “Cinderlad” story tells a similar story to “Cinderella” in that both end well for the main characters. The two stories make a telling counterpoint to what happens to boys who are heroes. On the other hand, most of us have never heard of Cinderlad, though the story about the long-suffering girl clearly survives and remains popular.
Before you begin
If you did the “extra” about telling your life as a fairy tale: Look back at the fairy tale of your life. What changes did you make to a typical fairy tale to reflect a more modern, even American, point of view?
What fairy tales do you know, besides “Hansel and Gretel,” that feature girls as active heroines who save the day?
Do you know of fairy tales where young boys or teenaged boys are rescued by others while they themselves remain passive?
Before you read
In the Tatterhood collection, you will read stories that have always been available in the oral culture, but have not been collected or perpetuated with as much vigor as the ones the Grimms and Perrault retold, or the ones that Disney has animated.
While you read, keep a list of surprises in these stories.
Keep a list of the stories from this book that you already know. Think about points in the stories where illustrations, or more illustrations, would be useful.
These stories were considered almost revolutionary when they were collected and published by Phelps in the late seventies. Now in the new millennium my students have commented that these stories don’t show men and women working together, only women triumphing, sometimes at the expense of men. While we’ve come a long way in our stories, we haven’t yet discovered the collection of old stories that show men and women cooperating to overcome evil or accomplish tasks. Perhaps that’s a task for the millennial generation, to search all the old sources and see if such stories exist-somewhere, anywhere!
I think the story of my life is that of Tatterhood, the girl who makes everything right and takes care of her gorgeous, but sometimes helpless, sister. I’m also impressed that she takes to the sea on her own, and doesn’t care what people think she looks like. As a cook, I also like the idea of her wooden spoon–cooking can be magic. I’m the rare sister MacDonald–my younger sister and only sibling, June is the fair one.
She had to earn a master’s degree to prove to herself she was smart; I had to have two good-looking kids to prove to myself I wasn’t so bad looking. That’s how powerful the ‘definition’ from fairy tales can be, even for brainy, thoughtful women in the 20th/21st century.