Mid-point Reflection – by Lyra

Thus far I have been enjoying my work very much. When I first designed this project, all I knew was that I wanted to study some aspect of French fairytales. I was not aware of Madame d’Aulnoy or other salonnières, and I feel very fortunate to have fallen upon their work. Although very few people have written in depth about these women an their work, the scholarship of those who have is quite extensive and there are diverse perspectives and interpretations among this small community of scholars. I have been learning a great deal of new information every week, and I am excited to have the opportunity to study and write about this topic.

Although I am very invested in my work and grateful to be able to do independent research, I will admit that this kind of work doesn’t always fit in with a high school schedule. Nonetheless, I expected that my schedule would not be particularly accommodating to long-term independent research. Sometimes I spend the entire 45-minute independent period just thinking and circulating ideas through my head, and by the time I am ready to write it is time for class again. Producing a thorough, well-written blog post every week can be demanding, especially when I have weekly assignments due every Friday or Saturday for several other classes, but the blog posts have helped me stay on track, continue to learn new information, and produce material that I can use in my paper. They also allow me to share my work with others in my community.

One thing I am struggling with is doing most of my work in French. I have little difficulty reading and writing in French, but many of my resources are in English and I have to write these posts in English as well. Although I have produced a great deal of writing for this blog, none of it is in the language in which I will write my paper. I have also been having trouble connecting with my mentor, with whom I am supposed to be conversing with in French every 1-2 weeks. Our schedules do not line up well at all and it has been difficult to connect.

Despite some of these challenges, I do think I am capable of doing long-term independent research, and this project gives be confidence that I will be able to handle major research assignments in college. I have learned a lot about the research process and time management already, and I have been exposed to a whole new world of writing, folklore, and feminist thought. In the second half of this semester, I will need to start formulating a thesis, rewriting my written work in French, and compiling it to support that thesis. I also need to come up with an oral/visual way for presenting my work and decide how, when, and to whom I will present it. In addition, I will have to be more proactive about meeting with my mentor. I hope I will able to complete this project in accordance with my expectations and end up with something I can be proud of.

2 thoughts on “Mid-point Reflection – by Lyra

  1. ericlin2013

    Just out of curiosity, what are the three qualities that you found really interesting in French fairy tales? And how do them compare to those in the US?

  2. lyrapiscitelli Post author

    It is hard to pin down what “American” fairytales are. Due to its multicultural nature, the US is home to a rich variety of folklore but the most well-known tales in the US (stories like Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Snow White, etc…) are attributed to Charles Perrault of France and The Brothers Grimm of Germany, although both of these sources undoubtably borrowed Middle Eastern, East Asian, and Ancient Greek and Roman cultures. These authors borrowed from each other as well, and they both canonized their works during the time period I am studying. Therefore, there is a large overlap between fairytales in the U.S. that you might see in a Disney movie and fairytales from seventh century france. There is, however, a comparison to be made between the mainstream authors whose work is well known today, and the specific group of female authors I am studying. They were known as the conteuses and their work was rather counter cultural. In my opinion, three things that made them different from their contemporary male counterparts would be: 1. Their writing style was far more baroque. The conteuses spun long, complex tales that used ornate language and lots of wordplay. They were criticized for this by both Perrault and the Brothers Grimm, who thought fairytales should be simple and appeal to peasants. In fact many of the Perrault and Grimm’s fairytales that we know today are heavily modified and simplified versions of the conteuses’ work. 2. Their fairytales tended to center around strong female protagonists and rejected the idea of “Prince Charming.” This was a bold political statement in a time where women were viewed as second class citizens. 3. They did not always have happy endings. Although many of the conteuses’ tales do end happily, many others end in murder, suicide, or dismemberment, often induced by love/lack thereof. Some fairytale scholars assert that these tragic endings were meant to refute the idea that marriage resolved everything and was key to stability. Anyways, I know this post is a bit long, but I hope it was informative!


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