Thursday, June 28, 2012

The Fairy Tale Salon

The Fairy Tale Salon last weekend was a success, I'm happy to report. The team did a fantastic job and our guests were universally charming and enthusiastic.

I really had very little to do other than figure out how to dress as Puss in Boots.

I came up with an ensemble based around my blue boots and quickly explained that before Perrault, Puss had been female (see Basile's 'Cagliuso'). Of course, she only got boots when she became male... but I wasn't about to let that deter me.

There's a wonderful write-up, along with photographs, of the event here on the Storytelling Australia (Victoria) blog. Jackie herself gave a fantastic performance of the rather bizarre tale of 'The Three Surgeons' from the Grimms. It has the whiff of urban legend about it. In fact, we were all enthralled by the storytelling! It's easy to forget about the power of telling stories when you're working at the computer, cups of coffee to hand. I'm hoping we can find more opportunities to merge the worlds of scholarship and storytelling.

We've also decided that all such events require music, cupcakes and spinning wheels!

I couldn't thank those who came along, participated and pitched in enough for making it such a memorable afternoon.

We're catching our breath for a few months, but you will soon hear about another, more traditionally academic event in the works. It goes by the name 'The Gender Games' and is scheduled for November. There'll be a CFP out soon.

But for now I have some catching up on housework... both actual, physical housework and writing about housework in fairy tales. I've just been researching Joliette of d'Aulnoy's 'The Good Little Mouse.' She grows up to be a turkey keeper and catches the eye of a wicked prince. She disdains his offer of marriage and a crown, preferring her beautiful turkeys to a future of corruption and vice. Fortunately, there's a coup d'├ętat and Joliette is installed as queen in her own right. It's one of my favourite tales.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Guilds are cool

We're putting the final touches on tomorrow's Fairy Tale Salon (2pm at H2.20, Caulfield campus). As I have a great team working on everything, my work tonight mostly involves fashioning a dashing hat to go with my Puss in Boots inspired ensemble. (Okay, there is more to it, but I'm thinking mostly about the hat!)

I did want to do a quick shout-out to the local guilds who have been so helpful and supportive. The Victorian branch of the storytelling guild has been promoting the salon and the Handweavers and Spinners Guild of Victoria helped us to locate a friendly spinner, because we, as a group, felt that a salon wouldn't be complete without spinning.

This may be slightly ironic, since my talk will argue that the French authors tried to distance themselves from the lowly, spinning storytellers promoted by Perrault and the Grimms. Yet, there is an aristocratic, intellectual heritage for spinning, too. Spinners and weavers like Helen and Penelope loom large in the Classics, for example (pardon the slight pun). Likewise, one wouldn't want to denigrate the efforts of the lower class spinners who provided the thread that clothed all ranks.

In short, I feel that although we do want to question the dominant mythology of the spinning peasant woman, we don't want to throw out the spinning wheel either.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Tweeting a fairy tale

Our Fairy Tale Salon, in conjunction with the Research in Literary Studies unit at Monash University and the Glen Eira Storytelling Festival, is coming up in just a fortnight (June 23). As part of the run-up to the event, we thought it'd be fun to set a challenge. We'd like to challenge people to write a fairy tale in a single tweet. Tweets should have the hash-tag '#fsft' so that we can find them. The best tweet will be read at the salon.

If you need some inspiration, the BSFA recently ran a similar challenge for science fiction tweets.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012


Just a quick drop-in to the blog (preparation for fairy tale teaching in Tuscany and fairy tale salons is swallowing up chunks of time), but in the last couple of weeks, I wrote two quick pieces. One, with Deb Waterhouse-Watson, has just been published on The Conversation. It's about the latest proliferation of Snow Whites and I managed to wiggle into the piece my current obsession with Finette.

The other is a piece on mermaids. It doesn't cover everything, but it points to some interesting background to the cultural idea of the mermaid.