Thursday, March 28, 2013
Women, Folklore, and History
March and thus Women's History Month is almost over and I failed to highlight the many older posts I have to celebrate Women, Folklore, and History. One of the draws of folklore for me has been its appeal to both genders. These days fairy tales are often stereotyped into either facile children's literature or escapist women's romance (or in March, underdog basketball teams).
We here know that those may be facets to some interpretations of the lore, but they only scratch the surface. And over the years as I have delved more into the history of the tales from their creation to their collecting, I appreciate how much folklore has provided a voice and outlet for women, especially when they had less of one, in centuries past. After all, one of the major and most influential periods of fairy tale history comes from the French salons where so many women wrote fairy tales of their own, coining the term "Contes de fées" or "fairy tales" for us.
But even more recently, while collectors and writers like the Grimms, Jacobs and Lang dominated the field's headlines, many women are responsible for the lesser known collections, the books where I find many of the more obscure versions of tales. They were scholars and devoted to the field, building it up with more offerings and comparisons.
The above book is the highly recommended Women and Tradition: A Neglected Group of Folklorists edited by Carmen Blacker and Hilda Ellis Davidson. It discusses some of those women and their contributions to the field.
The traffic and readership on this blog has increased quite a bit since March 2010 so I wanted to point new readers to my Women in Folklore month of posts from that time when I shared daily posts on the subject for Women's History Month. You'll have to page through the month backward though that link but since the posts were not very chronological, but mostly freestanding, it doesn't matter much.