Date of Award

2011

Document Type

Thesis

Department

English

First Advisor

Dr. Amy Sonheim

Second Advisor

Dr. Irene Trofimova

Third Advisor

Dr. Kevin Brennan

Abstract

When I was a child, I used to think that fairy tales always ended happily, and that winning a prince's affection was life's grand goal. I thought so because I was exposed to Disney versions: tales of a handsome prince rescuing an isolated stepchild from boring housework as in Cinderella (1950) and tales of a kiss literally saving at least two girls' lives as in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937) and in Sleeping Beauty (1959). While I recollect my father reading to my brother and me from an encyclopedia-sized collection of Aesop 's Fables, I do not recall him reading Brothers Grimms' and Charles Perrault's fairy tales to us, unfortunately (or fortunately, since their tales employ violence that would have deprived six-year-old me of sleep). Instead, my primary experience with fairy tales was that of most children's who grew up in the nineties: I watched the animated fairy tales of Walt Disney (1901-66). I can confidently inform you that the first Disney film in my possession was The Fox and the Hound (1981), and I watched it on our home's static-prone, fickle operating videocassette recorder with a friend, by myself, or with my cabbage patch dolls, each time in wonder and awe.

Admittedly, Disney's films had a tyrannous hold on my adolescent imagination. They became, and still are, a part of our formative American culture.... It makes sense, then, that fairy tales might also influence the formative culture of international societies, even those outside of the western hemisphere. Particularly, how might a Russian child be influenced by her country's familiar fairy tales? This question charged my research. I was convinced that delving into a comparative literary study on three different variants of a fairy tale would improve my understanding of Russian culture.

Comments

I am deeply grateful to be a member of the Carl Goodson Honors Program at Ouachita Baptist University, a place I first considered a noble institution and later regarded as my home. I sincerely appreciate many people who have helped me in my research. The Honors Council granted financial assistance for my trip to Russia in January 2011. Dr. Pemberton, director of the honors program, has encouraged me and supported my research through each stage. Dr. Amy Sonheim, my thesis director, brainstormed with me for hours to help me reach a plausible research question; she then read, edited, and proofread my work, offering fresh thoughts and constructive criticism with each draft. Dr. Irene Trofimova, a second reader and Professor of Russian, has been an invaluable guide in developing my Russian language skills and cultivating an interest in Russian culture. Dr. Kevin Brennan, a third reader, granted me his time and thoughts on my work.

I wish to thank Dana Greeson and Kenneth Wheatley III for filming fairy tale recitations and for organizing time for me to spend researching folklore in Russia. I also wish to thank a handful of people who lent me their expertise, thoughts, and cultural insight on Russian folklore while I was in Russia: Professor Natasha, Olga Yevstafyeva, Terri Blanton, Tatyana Sherstobitova, and Gary and Kimber Ross. I also wish to thank several students at Ouachita who shared with me their insight into Russian culture and language: Lilia Sokolova, Maria Kiseleva, and Megan Hart. Lastly, I wish to thank Illya Obvinsev, his wife Nadia, and their children Nastia, Sophia, Daniel, and Lena for welcoming me into their home on a snowy January day in Alapaevsk, Russia, and for allowing me to collect fairy takes from children who know them by heart.

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