Charter Oak State College World Literature for Children and Stories Paper

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Charter Oak State College

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Assignment 1 - due by Wednesday 4-8

Attached Files:

Read

  1. Isaac Bashevis Singer, Stories for Children (this is a stand-alone book). Read at least these specific stories AND
  2. Isaac Bashevis Singer's Nobel banquet speech and lecture. These two documents are available via the “Course Materials” link on the left side of the main screen of this course.

The stories:

3. Joe Hayes, The Day It Snowed Tortillas, another story collection. All the stories by Joe Hayes are here:

https://web.archive.org/web/20160313070951/http://sfaol.com/life/hayes.html

4. Joe Hayes has transitioned many of his stories to youtube—watch a professional storyteller in action.

Remember, he may be going slowly because his audience is bilingual, and he wants to make sure everyone understands him. The links:

5. Joe Hayes, "The Day After It Snowed Tortillas," and Ruth MacDonald, "The Day It Snowed Tortillas and the Hispanic Fairy Tale in New Mexico," both in Sitting at the Feet of the Past: Retelling the North American Folktale for Children, ed. Gary D. Schmidt and Donald R. Hettinga. Westport, CT: Greenwood, 1992.

These two scanned documents are available via the "Course Materials" link on the left side of the main screen of this course.

Questions for the discussion board

  1. List at least three adjectives to describe Singer’s humor in his stories. Explain why you chose these three, and where you see them in the stories.
  2. Listen and read Singer’s banquet speech. The Nobel Prize is given for a lifetime achievement in literature—Bob Dylan won in 2016 for his poetry. Singer’s Nobel came to him mainly because of his adult novels, not his children’s stories, which he wrote late in his life.
    Why did he choose to talk about his children’s stories? What is his point to his Nobel audience of royalty and scholars from around the world?
  3. Singer writes about the life of Jews in Poland after World War I but before World War II. What are the cultural markers of living as a Yiddish-speaking Jew in Poland? As usual, go beyond the language.
    Why doesn’t he write about the Christians in Poland? How do you think they lived?
  4. Cultural markers for Joe Hayes’s stories:
    Mexican cultural markers:
    Anglo cultural markers:
  5. What changes might Hayes have made to the stories to make them sound better for oral presentation?
  6. Advice to Hayes: He is a tall, blondish, white male trying to collect stories from people who look and sound different, speak Spanish but not so much English, and who have been badly treated in history by people who look like Hayes.
    How would you suggest he go about collecting stories to get a true, full picture of the array of stories they tell?
    What would you suggest to him about editing the stories for a white audience of school children?
  7. Who are the Tatterhood-type women in the stories for this week?

Response

Please respond to at least one colleague in the class with a substantial response that shows your agreement/disagreement/questions about their answers to the questions for the lesson.

Research

Please summarize (don't evaluate) the following two articles:

Then evaluate:

Extra for Experts

Choose TWO:

1. This Learning Unit is about hyphenated American stories. Make a recommendation for our textbook on which other hyphenated cultures we need to include from the United States. Justify your recommendations with sound arguments and evidence from the cultures or literature you wish to have included. How will we know when something is American? When is it American enough not to be hyphenated?

2. "La Llorona" is a boogey-man story. Collect other boogey-man stories, summarize them briefly, and make a recommendation on whether you recommend this book to young American readers today.

3. Evaluate these websites for inclusion in our textbook, using the standards for inclusion that we have used in other lessons.

American Folklore(http://www.americanfolklore.net)

Library of America(https://loa.org/writers/111-isaac-bashevis-singer)

Hatter's Classics(http://www.eldrbarry.net/roos/books/nood.htm)

Lesson 5 Lecture

Attached Files:

Review

The European folktales of the last few learning units pretty much capture the familiar folk and fairy tales that are current in the United States and Canada. The tales both reflect the folk from whom the stories are collected, and the biases of the collectors. Clearly, the Walt Disney studios have had a hand in perpetuating fairy tales in the United States, as have little Golden Books and other popular book publishers. Disney has taken a heavy hand at editing these stories for popular consumption.

Folktale collecting nowadays is more scientific, less likely to reflect bias than when Perrault and the Grimms were collecting, but every editing job, and every task of putting into writing the oral tale, reflects a bias. And bias is not always bad. The written tale is a tale that does not get lost with the death of the last teller. It also reflects a history of a time past that might have gotten lost.

The tales of Perrault and the Grimm suggest that the lives that the tellers of tales of old lived were nasty, brutish, short, and violent. Children who read fairy tales very definitely get a message from them, sometimes not an intended message. Many of the fairy tales that are still current are ones about adolescent girls. But now we all know that there are folk tales about active, resourceful girls and women.

Chelm, Poland--a resort town today

Lecture

Singer's culture is full of fools and wise people. He alternates between the quirky, dry humor of his culture and his more dreamy, philosophical stories. He represents "high" literature at its finest. His Nobel Prize was given not so much for the children's stories he wrote/recalled late in his career, but for his work for adults earlier. He lived in Warsaw between the World Wars, when his life was in danger as a Jew in Nazi Poland. He came to the United States and continued to write in Yiddish, even though he spoke and wrote commanding English.

The work presented here is translated from Yiddish to English. Please note that Singer is NOT writing about the Holocaust--the period here is the time between the wars. But he writes because of the worry of annihilation--if he doesn't capture the culture, it may be lost, along with all who died.

Palace of the Governors, Santa Fe, New Mexico

Hayes is an American English teacher who has specialized in oral storytelling in the Southwest. This book is just one of many he has written/edited of stories he finds as he travels around New Mexico, both telling stories and hearing them.

New Mexico is Hispanic and isolated, with much rural desert between villages which may have few amenities, even today. No phones, electricity, not much commerce near a cosmopolitan city like Albuquerque. Thus, these stories are still told, though few Anglos like Hayes get to hear them. Hayes is a particularly charming guy and probably works to disarm his audience so that they will tell him stories.

This learning unit is titled "hyphenated Americans." Almost all of us are hyphenated in the United States. It's difficult to label these two authors and their texts as Americans because so much of what they write clearly refers to another culture that has its roots on another continent.

By now you have become an expert reader of folk and fairy tales. If you have questions about the stories, if there are things you do not understand, please raise them in the class discussion.

Anecdotes

My children now know the names of crickets-Paziz and Peziza.

My younger son is a reluctant reader of fiction sometimes. I suggested that he read Singer based on my assumption that he'd find the book pretty funny. I know I did. His verdict: Not funny. So much for great literature.

The verdict on "La Llorona"-way too scary to listen to twice or read on his own, ever.

Before You Begin

Both of the writer/collectors in this lesson use the European fairy tale as a model. Both tell stories of cultures at the margins of the dominant culture. Singer writes the tales of Eastern European Jews, who were ghettoized at the margins of Christian cultures, and who preserved their differences in spite of incredible odds of poverty and political oppression. Hayes tells the stories of Mexicans and Mexican-Americans in the U.S. Southwest.

As You Read

As you read, keep a list of foreign words and their meanings that you find in these stories. For the books in this unit, keep a list of types of characters and events that have European folktale roots.

You might enjoy hearing these authors in their own voices. Thanks to YouYube, I can provide some examples.

For Singer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mUUa_z0OFsc

For Hayes: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ORuDTRpxEQY


Assignment 2 - due by saturday 4-11

If you’re having trouble with the dialect in the stories, try reading Uncle Remus Tales Translations first: https://uncleremustales.blogspot.com/2007/10/trans...

Read

  1. Anansi the Spider stories--please read stories # 21, 27, 34 as a minimum: Jamaica Anansi Stories http://www.sacred-texts.com/afr/jas/index.htm
  2. Joel Chandler Harris, Tales of Uncle Remus--read at least the first five stories: Uncle Remushttps://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Uncle_Remus:_His_So...
    Audio for Uncle Remus (https://librivox.org/uncle-remus-by-joel-chandler-harris/)
  3. Optional--not on the required book list: Julius Lester, Stories of Uncle Remus--read as many as you find helpful--a more recent telling of the stories without the original prose.

Try to listen to these stories if you possibly can.


Questions for the Discussion Board

  1. The animal characters in these stories are considered symbols, archetypes of human beings. Who do these characters represent?
    Brer Rabbit
    Brer Fox
    Brer Bear
  2. Many readers consider these stories racist—do you? Why or why not?
  3. These stories are even more controversial than Bible stories. There has been discussion of banning both Uncle Remus and the Bible in various school districts and local public libraries across the country.
    The American Library Association, which represents libraries and librarians all over the country, has issued a statement about banning books [tends to make them more popular with some readers] as an infringement to the Constitutional first amendment right to freedom of speech and expression. Their full statement is at this website:
    http://www.ala.org/advocacy/intfreedom/censorship/faq#ifpoint6
    What should we do about materials like Uncle Remus that may be offensive to some readers of our textbook for adults? Is there ever a justification for banning books?
  4. a.Beside the language and country of origin, number and list four cultural markers for the Uncle Remus stories

b. Beside the language and country of origin, list four ‘different’ cultural markers for the Anansi stories—different from the ones in part a.

c. What do the differences tell a college-level reader about the differences between the two story collections? Differences ONLY—not a comparison question.

5.How much editing do we need to do to the Uncle Remus stories to get them ready for adults readers of our textbook?


Response

Please respond to at least one colleague in the class with a substantial response that shows your agreement/disagreement/questions about their answers to the questions for the lesson.


Research

Please evaluate these websites for inclusion in our textbook:

Julius Lester https://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2017/05/11/52...
Uncle Remus museum http://www.usatoday.com/travel/destinations/2009-1...
Everything You've heard About Uncle Remus Is Wrong http://www.wrensnest.org/everything-youve-heard-ab...

Extra for Experts

Choose one:

  1. View Disney's Song of the South. It’s no longer easily available, but there are those free Disney movie sites that I cannot recommend because they're illegal.

Clearly this movie is a success in Disney's terms, since it has a song, "Zippety Doo Dah," that persists to this day. But it was not a huge commercial success in its own time, and is not much viewed today. Should it be resurrected as a vehicle of telling the Uncle Remus stories to a popular audience? Your answer should give specifics to show that you have actually viewed the movie.

Give reasons for your recommendations.

- OR -

2. Find three web sites on censorship of children's literature and review them for their usefulness in our textbook.


lesson 6 Lecture

Please don’t go looking for the Tatterhood-type women in this lesson—they’re not there.

Review

The hyphenated American authors we read in the previous lessons have brought their stories to this country by deliberate literary means and have written their stories to explain cultural roots. Both Hayes and Singer are literary experts [this is something of an understatement for a Nobel laureate] and present their stories in English to explain to an English-speaking audience other cultures. While they may have been editing out unpleasant stories--either consciously or unconsciously--there is no obvious bias, except on behalf of the culture being presented. The only obvious bias is to make the language clear to English speakers.

Maybe Harry Potter is also a hyphenated American--after all, the books wouldn't be global ones if they didn't appeal to a mass American audience.

Lecture

Joel Chandler Harris is publishing his book of Uncle Remus stories in the period of Reconstruction, about 1865-1876, a period of northern occupation of the south following the Civil War. Harris is also publishing in the North, not the South, for a Northern audience. He is a white man going among former slaves to collect his stories.

At this time, slavery is officially over, but treating black people as inferior is not.

Part of what Harris is doing in the stories is justifying the treatment of African-Americans in the South, showing that slavery was not all that bad, and that African-Americans were not badly treated, either during slavery or during Reconstruction. He is recalling his own experience with slavery as much as he is recording the slaves' perspective.

He is also trying to portray these little stories as the charming artifacts of slavery, and Uncle Remus as the benevolent slave who could be trusted as sometimes caretaker of the slave owner's son. He was trying to preserve dialect, but not in a scholarly, precise way.

Your answers to the questions posed in this lesson may vary, depending on your own hyphenation. For those readers who are Anglo, try to imagine the reaction of someone who is African-American to these stories which make slavery sound so protective.

Before you begin

Uncle Remus is a written, edited literary work, told for a popular audience, though collected from folk sources. At least part of Harris's purpose was to capture the dialects of language spoken by slaves and other African-Americans in the South. This language is very tough going, but is easier to understand if you read the words out loud. A hint: "bimeby" means "by and by" or "after a while."

So try reading these stories aloud. It can be difficult reading, so make sure you get through the preface and the first five stories as a minimum. You might also want to consult Julius Lester's version of the Uncle Remus stories for a translation into more modern English.

And here's a Youtube video of a storyteller [a white one] telling an Uncle Remus story--it may help you 'hear' the original stories as you read.

There's also a read-aloud version available at librivox.org. Audible also has the stories read aloud. This is the one time in the course that the version read aloud to you may be easier than the text version.

Brer Rabbit and the Tarbaby, Illustration from the first edition

We'd like to think that the Civil War ended when the War was over, but that's not the case. For a sense of the period after the Civil War, look for Ken Burns's new documentary on Reconstruction--you'll find it enlightening.

Before you read

Anansi is the African ancestor of Brer Rabbit. The ancestor was either a spider or a rabbit, but in either case, the model is small, helpless, and a trickster. The enemies are large and slow and stupid. Look for similarities between the two stories.

Anecdotes

I'm always surprised at Disney rabbits in animation, since Bugs Bunny is the signature cartoon rabbit, and pretty much takes over our imaginations as to what cartoon rabbits look like and how they act. Disney rabbits are never as good as Disney ducks or mice [or mouses!].

Here is a piece of history from one of our presidents, about Uncle Remus. From the speeches of Theodore Roosevelt:

Georgia has done a great many things for the Union; but she has never done more than when she gave Mr. Joel Chandler Harris to American literature. I suppose he is one of those literary people who insist that art should have nothing to do with morals, and will condemn me as a Philistine for not agreeing with them; but I want to say that one of the great reasons why I like what he has written is because after reading it I rise up with the purpose of being a better man, a man who is bound to strive to do what is in him for the cause of decency and for the cause of righteousness. Gentlemen, I feel too strongly to indulge in any language of mere compliment, of mere flattery. Where Mr. Harris seems to me to have done one of his greatest services is that he has written what exalts the South in the mind of every man who reads it, and yet what has not even a flavor of bitterness toward any other part of the Union. There is not an American anywhere who can read Mr. Harris's stories—I am not speaking at the moment of his wonderful folk tales, but of his stories—who does not rise up a better citizen for having read them, who does not rise up with a more earnest desire to do his part in solving American problems aright. (Before Piedmont Club, Atlanta, Ga., October 20, 1905.)
-- Presidential Addresses and State Papers IV, 501

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Explanation & Answer

Here you go.

Running head: ASSIGNMENT 2

1

Assignment 2
Course name
Student’s Name
Professor’s name
Institutional Affiliation
Date

ASSIGNMENT 2

2

Discussion Board
1. Uncle Remus Tales represent allegorical symbolism of slavery and inequalities. The
baby story is an archetype trickster tale whereby the rabbit is entrapped by a fox using
a tar-baby (Martyris, 2016). As he tries to fight the tar baby he becomes more
entrapped by tar. The rabbit uses tactical ways to save himself but asking the fox to
roast, hang, drown or skin him instead of throwing him to the briar patch. The fox
without knowing decided threw him to the briar patch to inflict more pain but the
rabbit escaped because he was born and bred there. In this case, the Brer rabbit
represents the slaves or the commons who have to survive by stealing the food from
their master or those who are rich. The brer fox, in this case, is the master who sets up
tar figure traps to catch the rabbit. When the slaves arrived in America, they were not
afforded any rights to live like any other human being. They learned to cope with the
situation by developing their survival strategies. The brer bear represents a henchman
or bully who constantly helps his master brer fox to terrorize his victims but is not
smatter like the fox. He constantly tries to kill Brer Rabbit’s plans but is outwitted due
to the rabbit’s intelligence.
2. I don’t think that these stories are racist. Most of these stories were meant to entertain,
learn about the history of the black people and show the world what the black
community has been through for years. In a story like "Why the Negro is Black” a
young boy was interested in knowing why Uncle Remus’ hands were as white as his
own. This is when he narrated to him about the unwritten history of the black people
that he thought would be necessary to record by ethnologists. Fictional titles and
animal characters have been used in most of his stories like Mr. Bear catches Old Mr.
Bull-Frog, How Mr. Rabbit was too sharp for Mr. Fox and The Wonderful Tar-Baby
among other fictional tales. The Brer Rabbit who uses his intelligence to survive from

ASSIGNMENT 2

3

his enemies. The allegorical archetype may represent the slavery of people but it only
reveals what used to happen in the past. I believe that Uncle Remus' target was to
write stories that will be fun to read for children by using animal characters. The Deep
South Negro dialect used in most of his stories was to appreciate the African
American folk tales. These stories can be interpreted differently in a different setting.
The Tar baby story, for instance, can be interpreted to be a struggle to survive at the
workplace or a wealthy man who does not treat their workers well.
3. It will be unfortunate if these books are banned in schools. These books are very
important in learning about the histo...


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