Author Topic: Fakelore...and the Ethics of Children's Literature  (Read 7310 times)

Offline Barnaby_McEwan

  • Posts: 861
Fakelore...and the Ethics of Children's Literature
« on: April 21, 2005, 09:20:51 pm »
Thought I'd post a link to this longish essay and ask what people think of it:

Quote
Abstract

So-called "multicultural folktale" picture books are a popular means for teaching about other cultures, especially in the primary grades. However, almost all these books are fakelore. Many are based on spurious legends, originally written for popular audiences following a romantic formula, that were never told in traditional communities. More are careless adaptations which completely assimilate genuine sources into contemporary children's book fashions, as this paper will document with numerous examples, mostly in reference to the stories of indigenous peoples of North America. Although uninformed reviewers and educators praise the changes authors make, knowledgeable, scholarly comparisons between picture books and originals invariably show the "improvements" significantly distort native style, characterization, plot, theme, meaning, and belief. These picture books not only eliminate the "otherness" of other cultures to the point they are a poor excuse for multicultural curriculum, they perpetuate stereotypes of native storytelling as intellectually and aesthetically child-like. If authors would stop oversimplifying, assimilating, playing to the market, and using other people's stories to teach their own preferred "virtues," and if educators would stop encouraging the production and use of fakelore, we could start making progress on the legitimate problem of how to edit, frame, and teach authentic traditional tribal oral literatures to make them available and accessible to children.


http://www.msu.edu/user/singere/fakelore.html

DIGOWELI

  • Guest
Re: Fakelore...and the Ethics of Children's Litera
« Reply #1 on: April 24, 2005, 10:27:16 pm »
Wado Barnaby,

I've forwarded the excellent article to my writer daughter at Emerson College.   She has been dealing with some of these same issues in her children's lit course.   This should be most helpful.  I know some of the people mentioned and Singer is generally accurate about the one's I know.   Bruchac for example is of such a good nature that it is normal that his tales would have his personality as a Master Storyteller for children.  

We have to deal with what will be published.   Sometime ago I was asked to author a chapter on native pedagogy for a book but what I presented was so different from their own projection of what a book should be that they backed out.   The same thing has happened several times so I have removed myself from institutions and do my own work privately.   Much more free to explore and go where ever the art takes one.   I would add that it is this attitude that has brought students from many traditions to study voice with me.   I don't seek to convince them but instead simply help them develop what is from their own culture and genius.   To first accept, then love, then clean, then recognize, then develop, then give and finally heal their art.

I give credit to Ralph Kirkpatrick and the early music people for this attitude since I had the honor of being in on the founding of that important modern movement in musicology.

This article is an advance on this list.   I hope there will be a discussion of it.  

donada gohv'i

Ray Evans Harrell

Offline Barnaby_McEwan

  • Posts: 861
Re: Fakelore...and the Ethics of Children's Litera
« Reply #2 on: April 25, 2005, 05:00:34 pm »
Quote
I know some of the people mentioned and Singer is generally accurate about the one's I know.   Bruchac for example is of such a good nature that it is normal that his tales would have his personality as a Master Storyteller for children.


Hello, Ray. Are you saying that Joseph Bruchac is a friend of yours?

Quote
I would add that it is this attitude that has brought students from many traditions to study voice with me.   I don't seek to convince them but instead simply help them develop what is from their own culture and genius.   To first accept, then love, then clean, then recognize, then develop, then give and finally heal their art.


I wish you hadn't added that: you're not the topic of this thread.

DIGOWELI

  • Guest
Re: Fakelore...and the Ethics of Children's Litera
« Reply #3 on: April 25, 2005, 06:40:04 pm »
Ho,

Bruchac is an acquaintance of many years from various venues.    He is a good, caring man who has worked hard for the Abanacki.   I haven't seen or talked to him fifteen years or so but I do read his books and our children love them.

As for the second comment.   We are taught to speak of our experience and this list demanded that I document it so I have.   I would not normally do that.   Except I only have my eyes and I am only able to share my eyes with you.   As for the native pedagogy, I said it in the proper manner.  

Thank you for your honesty I hope that helps.

Ray Evans Harrell