Not again! The stories we tell about recurrence, structure, and interconnectedness
Cristina Bacchilega (University of Hawaii-Manoa)
Paper short abstract:
"The truth about stories is that that's all we are" (Thomas King 2003). This apparently simple truth also holds for scholarly disciplines or cultures, and thus reflecting critically on it as scholars of fairy-tale studies has the potential for changing who we think we have been and want to be.
Paper long abstract:
As Cherokee writer Thomas King affirmed, "the truth about stories is that that's all we are." This apparently simple truth also holds for scholarly cultures, and thus reflecting critically on it as scholars of fairy-tale studies has the potential for changing who we are, or at least who we think we have been and want to be. The stories we tell about recurrence—as pattern and event—are my focus here. While representing different kinds of scientific imagination, Antti Aarne's and Stith Thompson's "tale type" classification, Vladimir Propp's Morphology, and the Freudian exploration of the unconscious in fairy tales all sought to codify and verify the meaning-production of widely diverse narratives in systematic ways that foreground the workings of structure in experience. Today's phylogenetic studies of folktales' cross-cultural relationships seem to rest on a similarly structural framework. If so, what does their return suggest about anxieties in the field of folk and fairy-tale studies? I don't have an answer, but I believe that some speculative fictions point to different pathways for scholars to approach the retelling and proliferation of wonder tales, offering a counter-knowledge to evolutionary models by foregrounding the embodied, affective, and performative aspects of recurrence. The impulse moving my discussion is to insist on the situatedness of stories in a worldly web and foreground interconnectedness.
Meta-visions of heritage and utopia: scholarly tales on fairy tales