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Is anyone interested in the roles food plays in folktales?

I've done a bit of research on this theme in relation to a PhD on Storytelling (yes, some people are that crazy) and found its quite fascinating. I've posted an excerpt below and would be happy to share the whole paper if someone could tell me how to post it.






It is possible to identify some of the key usages of food and the emblematic roles they play. The lack of food as well as the appearance of food in stories generally signals a start of a quest or achange in the dynamics. There is a certain ambiguity surrounding food, one and the same thing (i.e. Apple) can relate to both good and evil, life and death. Sacred food brings about an altered state of consciousness and food here becomes a vehicle of initiation. There is an obvious link between food and magic in relation to the world of elemental-beings[1]and the Sidhe of Celtic folklore, as well as to the healing of illness, poisoning and even to the overcoming of mortality. In some tales the abundant appetite of a hero or heroine is reflective of their great strength and generosity, just as gluttony is suggestive of evil and ruthlessness. Willingly sharing personal food is the hallmark of the heroine and the hero, as is the protection of communal food from theft. Divine artifacts provide nourishment in abundance; while the self-sacrifice of a divine being, paired with the integrity of a mortal hero and heroine can lead to the sustenance of their people.

[1] Gnomes, Undines, Sylphs, Salamanders connected to the four elements, earth, water, air, fire respectively


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Comment by Jesse The Wind Wanderer on January 19, 2011 at 6:05am

I'm definitely interested too.


You can upload a file to a blog post but it has a limit of 5mb. That's pretty big for text depending on what format you've got your thesis in. Perhaps you could upload chapters? To upload add a blog post and then click "More Options" in the bottom left corner - this will give you a proper blog post page with a little paper-clip attachment icon just below "Entry"


Otherwise you could upload it to and link to it. Just log in and click "create content" -> "Article" and at the bottom is a link for "file attachments". The default max size for file uploads is 1mb but just let me know how big your thesis is and I'll set it to that.


Looking forward to reading it :-D

Comment by Ulf Ärnström on January 19, 2011 at 4:37am
I had to decline a request for "food storytelling" a while ago. But then I hadn't seen this ...
Comment by Christi U. on January 14, 2011 at 11:25am
I would definitely be interested in reading the whole thing. I actually did a little bit about the symbolism of food in my undergrad. work too, especially how the apple/pome/pomegranate can be interchangeable when dealing with the food of immortality and/or knowledge.
Comment by Iris Curteis on January 8, 2011 at 5:56am

Hi Lois,

Its not my whole dissertation - just one chapter aprox. 9 000 words (43 000 characters) with bibliography. I have considered putting it out in sections but it would make "discussion" a bit more difficult. As far as I know Food in Folktales is not something previously researched and I found it more fascinating the more I looked into it. Looking at food meant I had to look at nurture and nourishment, which opened up the BIG question of the withholding of food so often carried out by step-mothers/step-sisters/"evil" mothers etc. Suddenly these sustenance refusing characters no longer appeared as simply evil, but, in a veiled way, aided the heroine or hero in their striving to become individuals/independent and empowered to bring about great good.

It would be great if I could put it out there,



P.S. the crone is a Baba Yaga marionette a friend made some time ago; we were planing to perform Vasilisa the Beautiful; the Baba Yaga fits into the above context really well

Comment by Lois Sprengnether Keel (LoiS) on January 7, 2011 at 4:21pm

It is indeed interesting, Iris, & so is your question.  I know there's a limit on a post's length, so I'm going to have to check & see if there's a way to upload an entire dissertation.  Could you give me some rough idea on its length either in terms of computer memory or # of words?


Failing all else, here's probably an even better idea, take it in segments like a blog & that way you will be able to adjust to any limits Ning's software might impose.



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