Marvelous Geometry: Narrative and Metafiction in Modern Fairy Tale

Jessica Tiffin. Marvelous Geometry: Narrative and Metafiction in Modern Fairy Tale. Detriot: Wayne State University Press, 2009. 253pp. $29.95, bibliographical references and index  (pbk.  Alk: paper).

Shana Stockton
Indiana University

Marvelous Geometry is a book on literary adaptations of traditional fairy tale forms, and while useful to a folklorist with a literary background, seems to be mainly intended for people with a literary focus, and an interest in folklore and fairy tales. This is not strictly a folklore text, and gives background on folklore scholarship for those unfamiliar with the field. Said background is handled admirably, and this book would be useful for anyone studying literary fairy tales, feminist reinterpretations of fairy tales, popular reinterpretations of fairy tales, or anything along that line. Continue reading “Marvelous Geometry: Narrative and Metafiction in Modern Fairy Tale”


Multilocality and the narration of place meanings in an Irish story

 Multilocality and the narration of place meanings in an Irish story

 Chad Buterbaugh
Indiana University

Professional Irish storytelling reaches an audience well beyond Ireland, yet many stories are infused with specific information about Irish customs and culture. The listener who is unfamiliar with such specifics must rely on the storyteller to mediate perspectives on Irish culture that are at once comprehensive and relatively easy to understand.

This paper focuses on a single performance of a story about a bewitched field in Ireland. In particular, it explores how place meanings may be mediated in social, legislative, religious, and folkloristic contexts. The narrated, multilocal presentation of these contexts then create a story in which unfamiliar listeners are invited to a deeper understanding of a place with which they have no personal experience. Continue reading “Multilocality and the narration of place meanings in an Irish story”

Thomas Burton. Beech Mountain Man: The Memoirs of Ronda Lee Hicks.

Thomas Burton. Beech Mountain Man: The Memoirs of Ronda Lee Hicks. Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 2009. $32.95 cloth.

Danielle E. Quales
Indiana University

In this book, Burton presents the life stories of western North Carolina native Ronda Lee Hicks on a wide variety of subjects, all of which are equally informative and engaging.  Hicks narrates stories about his days in the army and in prison, the importance of his home and family on Beech Mountain, and his many encounters with less than amicable characters.  Hicks is a member of the renowned Hicks-Harmon storytelling family, who are well known and studied for their centuries as keepers of Jack Tales and other traditional European folktale forms.  Ronda Lee Hicks, the member of the family presented in Burton’s book, however, tells stories about his own life and the people and places he knows best, rather than the traditional stories for which his extended family is known. Continue reading “Thomas Burton. Beech Mountain Man: The Memoirs of Ronda Lee Hicks.”

Thomas Huanca L. Tsimane Oral Tradition, Landscape, and Identity in Tropical Forest

Tomas Huanca L. Tsimane Oral Tradition, Landscape, and Identity in Tropical Forest. La Paz, Bolivia: SEPHIS – South-South Exchange Programme for Research on the History of Development. 2006. Pp. iii+279, color and black and white photos, line drawings, and designs, color and black and white maps, index., glossary of indigenous terms.

Fredericka Schmadel
Indiana University

Tomas Huanca L., who lived with the Tsimane in Amazonian Bolivia for nine years, documented their traditions, oral history, and myths, retreating now in the face of outside pressure. He includes helpful chapter summaries, many photographs, maps, and charts, a glossary of Tsimane terms, a pronunciation guide, and a bibliography with extensive oral archival as well as scholarly sources. However, once the reader has found a useful section on a topic — a trickster figure, the use of tobacco and/or beer in healing ceremonies, or the Masters of the Game — compare-contrast material will be lacking. It is almost as if the Tsimane, alone among indigenous groups, incorporated tricksters, beer customs, and the like into their world view. This is most decidedly not the case. For this reason, readers who are familiar with other Amazonian indigenous communities will benefit from this ethnography more than readers looking for an introduction to the field.

Continue reading “Thomas Huanca L. Tsimane Oral Tradition, Landscape, and Identity in Tropical Forest”

Mary Noailles Murfree. ed. Bill Hardwig. In the Tennessee Mountains

Mary Noailles Murfree. Ed. Bill Hardwig. In the Tennessee Mountains. Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 2008. Pp. xlviii +167. $24.95 paper.

Danielle Quales
Indiana University

The main body of this text was originally published in 1884 by Mary Noailles Murfree under the pseudonym Charles Egbert Craddock.  This collection of eight tales in the popular American local-color style of the late 19th and early 20th centuries is well known to scholars interested in regional studies of the United States, most specifically in the Appalachian region that is treated in Murfree’s sketches.  Murfree came from a wealthy, flatland Tennessee family and spent summers in the mountains interacting with the locals and becoming familiar with Appalachian culture, which was the alleged inspiration for this collection of stories.  Even though these stories were popular with her middle-class readership at the time of publication, In the Tennessee Mountains has come to be regarded as an unfair, stereotypical portrayal of mountain people by the vast majority of scholars in more recent years.  This new edition, though, provides an intriguing introduction to the collection written by Egbert Craddock that makes the book more appropriately contextualized and thus more informative.  Hardwig firmly places Murfree in the social and academic milieu of her time, thus showing both the value of her scholarship in its time period and its shortcomings.  Hardwig gives the reader important biographical information on the writer that give the modern reader a deeper understanding of her reasons for writing about mountain culture. Continue reading “Mary Noailles Murfree. ed. Bill Hardwig. In the Tennessee Mountains”

William Schneider, ed. Living With Stories: Telling, Re-telling, and Remembering

William Schneider, ed. Living With Stories: Telling, Re-telling, and Remembering. Logan: Utah State Press, 2008. pp. 175 pages. ISBN: 978-0-87421-689-9 (cloth) $27.95 cloth, $23.00 e-book.

Kristiana Willsey
Indiana University

Living With Stories grew out of a panel at the 2004 U.S. Oral History Association meeting, and its structure consciously echoes that of a conference session—each chapter is deepened and developed by a following interview between the chapter’s author and a notable scholar whose own, related research makes them uniquely able to expand upon the original paper. These “conversation” chapters extend to the reader a sense of privileged participation, a vicarious presence at an especially coherent and insightful conference discussion. The transcribed conversations are more engaging, and more truly dialogic, than the usual “response” essays in similar volumes. Continue reading “William Schneider, ed. Living With Stories: Telling, Re-telling, and Remembering”

Negotiating a Shire: The Transformation of Local Values in the Society for Creative Anachronism

Negotiating a Shire: The Transformation of Local Values in the Society for Creative Anachronism

Suzanne Barber
Indiana University


The Society for Creative Anachronism is an international non-profit organization and is often depicted and discussed as a large homogeneous organization. Instead, in this work I have analyzed a smaller group, Loch an Fhraoich. Loch an Fhraoich, whose values and identity center around camaraderie and narrative and aesthetic coherence must attempt to balance these two often contradictory principles. This can be examined in light of narrative construction and maintenance. The Society for Creative Anachronism supports an official homogenous metanarrative.  At every level these narratives connect the individual and group to others, creating a network of relationships and shared narratives that help create a sense of unity and prevent a fracturing of voices and thus support the overriding metanarrative. In order to prevent this system from collapsing inward or fracturing apart, a certain amount of playful transgressive metalepsis and edgeplay must be allowed. The negotiation of this edgeplay is debated, and the style and amount tolerated is often a distinguishing mark between groups. Some key contestations that I have focused on where this debate occurs include the levels and types of anachronism allowed, the types of partying and practical jokes encouraged or discouraged, costuming, and the understanding of honor and chivalry. Continue reading “Negotiating a Shire: The Transformation of Local Values in the Society for Creative Anachronism”