And so that was the title of my dissertation which earned me a first at university. Since I started my blog last year, I have been consistent in delcaring my love for fairytales and the reasons for this are endless. It took me a long time to choose my subject for my dissertation and then something just felt right when I explored the ideas of fairytales, at first Aesop’s fables then eventually I reached the more diverse, adult concept of Grimm’s fairy tales and that’s what really interesting me- the dichotomy of a child’s concept of fairytales which such adult content. Fairytales are inherently a part of our childhoods and yet the origins of these tales are completely misunderstood. Did you know the story of Cinderella originates from 4th century China involving foot binding and foot fetishes?
And so as I researched fairytales more I became fascinated with the interpretations of these vast tales. Believe me when I say it is so easy to get lost in the world of fairytales. This genre is the basis of arguably all other genres and influence our lives so much from childhood through to adulthood. Through the use of Vladimir Propp’s theory on Morphology we can establish a fundamental purpose to each fairytale as they follow set themes and stages- of course this is all relative but what can be said is that fairytales to this day maintain a set structure, what they don’t maintain is a set influence to the reader. Fairytales influence our lives more than we could ever know. They gives us preconceptions, misconceptions and introduce us to belief and faith and the idea of fantastical possibility.
I absolutely relished in writing my dissertation- through all the re-writes, the word limits, the sweet consuming (the alcohol consuming) and the all nighters; fairy tales are wonderful and shouldn’t be dismissed in a child’s education. Go back to them, relive a memory that hasn’t been Disneyfied. Just…escape.
I’ve written this post because of http://thebookladysblog.com/ aka #pantyworthy lady. Recently, she very admirably blogged about a book titled ‘Flow- The Cultural Story of Menstruation’ by Elissa Stein and Susan Kim. She ignored the stigma and wrote about periods anyway..it shouldn’t even be a big deal that she wrote about periods in the first place but I digress. What interested me about this post is that in writing my dissertation I broached onto the subject of menstruation in my study of ‘Little Red Riding Hood’ aka ‘Little Red Cap’ as it used to be known. I came to discover little red’s hood as a symbolism for menstruation. Themes of devouring and contraception come into play aswell in the form of little red’s ‘cap’ . Typically a girls first menstrual cycle indicates a move into maturation and sexual maturity and yet in Little Red Cap this idea is rejected as the girl is naive and unwilling to submit to the anthropomorphic Wolf. There is ambivalence throughout this tale as it shows the menstrual cycle is a mere stepping stone into the path of maturity and yet makes the girl elusively aware of her sexual prowess. I don’t know about anyone else but myself and indeed, my dissertation supervisor found this fascinating stuff.
So for ‘bookladysblog’ the following list of book recommendations is for you and all your visitors from the ‘Flow’ post:
Judy Grahn, ‘Blood, Bread and Roses: How Menstruation Created the World’ (1994).
Vigen Guroian, ‘Awakening the Moral Imagination: Teaching Virtues through Fairy Tales’ (1996).
Martha Hixon, ‘Little Red Riding Hood Uncloacked: Sex, Morality and the Evolution of a Fairy Tale’ Children’s Literature Association Quarterly 129-131 Issue 29 (2004). A review of….
Catherine Orenstein ‘Little Red Riding Hood Uncloacked: Sex, Morality and the Evolution of a Fairy Tale’ (2000).
Jack Zipes (fairytale knowitall) ‘A Second Gaze at Little Red Riding Hood’s Trials and Tribulations’ The Lion and the Unicorn publication 7/8 78-109 (1983).