CR Exercise 2: Audience in Context

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Choose one of the following questions about fairy tales and audience to answer this week. You must integrate Donald Haase’s essay “Yours, Mine, or Ours” to support your arguments.

Your goals are to:

  • Demonstrate your thorough understanding of Haase’s argument about “ownership” of fairy tales
  • Practice crafting arguments about rhetorical situation, with a focus on audience
  • Practice integrating sources purposefully in your writing
  • Practice effective paragraph development and transitions
  • Develop some potential ideas for your RA essay

1) Perrault’s “Bluebeard” and Beaumont’s “Beauty and the Beast” belong roughly to similar cultural contexts (French 17th and 18th-centuries, respectively) and are directed at similar audiences (wealthy and educated young girls destined for marriage). However, Beaumont’s purpose, message, and rhetorical strategies differ drastically from Perrault’s.

Compare these two tales: How do Perrault and Beaumont use similar fairy tale conventions and/or rhetorical strategies to convey different messages about gender roles/marriage and achieve different purposes? How does each tale evoke different responses from the same audience? How do these tales illustrate and/or challenge Haase’s notion of “ownership”?

2) In her story “Bluebeard’s Egg,” Margaret Atwood recycles elements of Perrault’s “Bluebeard” and the Grimms’ “Fitcher’s Bird” in order to explore the complexities of 20th-century gender roles. By retelling these stories, Atwood positions herself as a feminist reader of Perrault and Grimm.

Compare Atwood’s story with her source materials: Pick one or two elements that Atwood updates from the older stories–how does she update them? What do these updates suggest about how Atwood has responded as a feminist reader of Perrault and/or the Grimms (or fairy tales in general)? How do these updates serve as rhetorical strategies that appeal to a modern audience? How does Atwood’s tale illustrate and/or challenge Haase’s notion of “ownership”?

3) The tales “Mr. Bluebeard” and “The Forbidden Room” are two stories told by and for people of color–Jamaican and African-American audiences, respectively. The versions in our textbook also preserve the original dialects in which they were told, adding a vivid cultural twist to the European originals (“Bluebeard” and “Mr. Fox,” respectively).

Choose ONE of these tales to focus your response: How does this tale revise the original story? What do these changes suggest about how this new audience has responded to the original? How do these changes serve as rhetorical strategies that appeal to a nonwhite audience? How does this tale illustrate and/or challenge Haase’s notion of “ownership”?

4) The Grimm Brothers’ tales “Fitcher’s Bird” and “The Robber Bridegroom” appear in their collection Children’s and Household Tales explicitly intended for children. Our versions come from the 1857 edition, which falls well within the period of “nationalist folklore” that Haase describes in his essay.

Choose ONE of these tales to focus your response: What rhetorical strategies do you identify in this tale as appealing specifically to children? What message(s) about curiosity, cleverness, and punishment do the Grimms convey to children—girls, boys, or both? What responses do these rhetorical strategies seem intended to evoke? How does this tale illustrate and/or challenge Haase’s notion of “ownership”?

Some advice for getting started:

As you think about the ways that a particular audience responds to a specific tale, there are a few things you could focus your attention on:

  • Specific emotions that readers experience at specific moments in the story (how is a word, an image, a plot twist intended to make us feel?)
  • Reader’s identification with a character or situation (how is the reader invited to imagine themselves in the story and to what purpose?)
  • Reader’s agreement/disagreement with specific values, principles, or other ideas (how is the reader invited to judge the characters and their actions?)

Your response should be thesis-driven and at least 500 words (two double-spaced pages) long; discuss specific examples from your primary and secondary texts to support your main arguments. Upload your response here in a Word document.

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