Storytelling tips

October 30, 2008

The Storytelling Center Inc of NYC has this list of tips posted on its site.


The Twa Sisters

September 22, 2008

This is an old story from Europe. There are over 21 versions of the story with different themes and details. The basic tale is about a young woman who is drown in a body of water by her older sister. In most versions, her body is pulled out of the water by a miller. All versions of this ballad include this basic framework but there are many differences in the other details of the story.

The motivation for the killing is most often jealosy. Some versions illude to the older sister being jealous of her sister for her looks and her relationship with their father. Many versions include a wealthy gentleman suitor who favors the younger sister. In these later versions, the drowning girl becomes aware of her sisters motivations and calls to her from the water, promising that the older sister may marry the suitor if she pulls her out of the water.

The next major difference between the versions of this murder ballad involve the miller. Many of them speak of the miller’s daugher, or son in some cases, who spies the body in the water. The child reports to the miller seeing a swan or a pale body floating in the water. The miller pulles the corpse out of the water.

The next series of events also varies in the tellings of this story. Some of them feature the miller robbing the corpse of her riches, most often rings, and throwing the body back into the water. In these versions the miller is often hanged for the killing of the young woman.

Other versions depict the miller building musical instruments from the corpse, often using her hair for fiddle strings and in some cases her breast bone to build a harp. The miller either travels the land playing the instruments or sells them to a fiddler. The wraith of the murdered woman is awakened when the instruments are played at which point she identifies her sister as the murderer.

I think the history of this murder ballad proves the resonnance of its themes and that it has great potential as the featured narrative in my thesis.

Taro Thesis

September 15, 2008

During a discussion with Jay Van Buren in August, he mentioned looking into projects that were inspired by taro. We talked about the mythos of taro and about its role in folklore.

I recently found Natalie Funk’s MS thesis project in the Information Design Technology department at Georgia Tech. This project attempts to provide its user with an opportunity to interact with TS Eliot’s The Waste Land using a digital, taro inspired interface.

Thesis site

Three Card Interface

Three Card Interface

Make your own card feature

Make your own card feature

I like how this project uses a folk (taro) inspired interface to deconstruct a dense narrative. I will be attempting a similar feat using a quilt to deliver a folk ghost story or murder ballad. I plan on writing to Ms. Funk to ask about the results of this project.

Sources to look into

September 15, 2008

I found the following bibliographic references on
Sources for the Analysis and Interpretation of Folk and Fairy Tales
The Psychoanalytic Approach

* Barker, Adele Marie. The Mother Syndrome in the Russian Folk Imagination . Columbus, OH : Slavica Publishers, 1986.
* Brun, Birgitte. Symbols of the Soul : Therapy and Guidance Through Fairy Tales . Philadelphia : Jessica Kingsley, 1993.
* Cooper, J. C. (Jean C.) Fairy Tales : Allegories of the Inner Life. San Bernardino, Calif.: Borgo Press, 1986.
* De Graff, Amy. The Tower and the Well : A Psychological Interpretation of the Fairy Tales of Madame D’Aulnoy. Summa, 1984.
* Dieckmann, Hans. Twice-Told Tales : the Psychological Use of Fairy Tales. Wilmette, Ill.: Chiron Publications, 1986.
* Dundes, Alan. Parsing Through Customs: Essays by a Freudian Folklorist . Madison : University of Wisconsin Press, 1987.
* Fairy Tales as Ways of Knowing : Essays on Marchen in Psychology, Society and Literature. Las Vegas: P. Lang, 1981.
* Fantasy and Symbol: Studies in Anthropological Interpretation . New York : Academic Press, 1979.
* Franz, Marie-Louise von. Individuation in Fairytales. Dallas, Tex.: Spring Publications, 1987
* Franz, Marie-Louise von. Shadow and Evil in Fairy Tales . Boston: Shambhala, 1995.
* Freud, Sigmund. Dreams in Folklore . New York : International Universities Press, 1958.
* Heuscher, Julius E. A Psychiatric Study of Myths and Fairy Tales: their Origin, Meaning, and Usefulness. Springfield, Ill.: Thomas, 1974.
* Kast, Verena. Folktales as Therapy. New York: Fromm International, 1995.
* Leo, Schneiderman. The Psychology of Myth, Folklore, and Religion. Nelson-Hall, 1981.
* Levi-Strauss, Claude. The Jealous Potter. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1996.
* Psyche’s Stories : Modern Jungian Interpretations of Fairy Tales. Wilmette, Ill.: Chiron Publications, 1991
* Roheim, Geza. Fire in the Dragon and Other Psychoanalytic Essays on Folklore . Princeton, NJ : Princeton University Press, 1992.
* Witches, Ogres and the Devil’s Daughter: encounters with evil in fairy tales. (Translation of Bose im Marchen). Boston : Shambhala, 1992.

General Sources

* Baker, Donald. Functions of Folk and Fairy Tales. Washington, D.C.: Association for Childhood Education International, 1981.
* Dundes, Alan. Folklore Matters. Tennessee: Univ. of Tennessee Pr., 1993.
* Dundes, Alan. Interpreting Folklore Indiana: Indiana University Press, 1980.
* Folklore Interpreted : Essays in Honor of Alan Dundes. Garland, 1996.
* Hardland, Edwin Sidney Mythology and Folktales; Their Relation and Interpretation. AMS Press, 1977.
* Jason, Heda. Whom does God Favor : the Wicked or the Righteous? : the Reward-and-Punishment Fairy Tale. Helsinki: Suomalainen Tiedeakatemia, Academia Scientiarum Fennica, 1988.
* Luthi, Max. The Fairytale as Art Form and Portrait of Man. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1984.
* Mieder, Wolfgang. Tradition and Innovation in Folk Literature. Hanover : University Press of New England, 1987.
* Siikala, Anna-Leena Interpreting oral narrative. Suomalainen Tiedeakatemia, ?.

Specific Cultures

* Boyer, L. Bryce. Childhood and Folklore : A Psychoanalytic Study of Apache Personality . New York : Library of Psychological Anthropology, 1979.
* Dundes, Alan. Life Is Like a Chicken Coop Ladder : A Study of German National Character Through Folklore. Detroit: Wayne State Univ. Pr., 1989.
* Hill, Elizabeth F. A Comparative Study of the Cultural, Narrative, and Language Content of Selected Folktales Told in Burma, Canada, and Yorubaland. Theses (PhD) – University of Alberta, 1990.

The Second Half of Life

* Chinen, Allan B. In the Ever After: Fairy Tales and the Second Half of Life. Wilmette, IL : Chiron Publ., 1989.
* Chinen, Allen. Middle Tales : Fairy Tales and the Psychology of Women and Men at Mid-Life. [sound recording] Sounds True, 1992.
* Chinen, Allan B. Once Upon a Midlife : Classic Stories and Mythic Tales to Illuminate the Middle Years. New York, NY: Putnam Pub. Group, 1993.
* Estes, Clarissa Pinkola. The Dangerous Old Woman : Myths and Stories of the Wise Old Woman Archetype. New York: Random House Large Print, 1996.

Cinematic precedents

August 28, 2008

In all of these movies, plot points are picked up on second watching. Some of them provide the audience with different versions of the narrative. This is especially true in Rashomon, where a murder is retold 6 times (twice by the same character). Each time the story gives the audience a different perspective of the murder. In films like Nashville, Stardust Memories, and Pulp Fiction, audience members will better understand subtleties in the narrative after multiple viewings. Films like Three Women and Mulholland Drive have narratives that are difficult to grasp after one (or even two) viewings. Ghost stories like The Others, Carnival of Souls, and Lady In White (and slasher film, Sleepaway Camp) will also make more sense the the audience upon a second viewing.