Sunday, August 25, 2013

Belinda Calderone and The Monash Fairy Tale Salon: a new website 2013

Over a year ago, I attended an event hosted by the Monash Fairy Tale Salon for the Glen Eira Festival. Not sure what to expect; the invitation mentioned cross dressing, French Fairy Tales and cup cakes. The program promised music, mini lectures and demonstrations and retellings of old tales.

As it happened, this event turned out to be one of the most satisfying that I visited for the year. As someone who takes old tales out of books and places them back on my tongue, I hunger for crunchy, informed discussion and exposure to unfamiliar tales.

The organizer, Belinda Calderone has now made the Monash Fairy Tale Salon more accessible by creating a website where interested folk can connect from around the world. What follows is a brief interview with Belinda.

Q. How did your interest in Fairy Tales reveal itself to you?

My interest in fairy tales definitely stems from my mother who read them to me almost every night growing up. I’ve been enchanted by their magic ever since!

Q. Fairy tale, myth and legend, parable how do you separate these genres for the purposes of your group?

A tricky question! Though these distinctions are never clear cut, I see myths as stories of superhuman entities (like gods), legends as stories that are said to have taken place in human history, and parables as allegorical narratives whose primary purpose is to teach a moral. Though there are many exceptions, I see fairy tales as fictional stories about ordinary humans who encounter secular magic in everyday life.

Q. Why do we still love these tales so full of violence, misogyny, and heteronormativity?

Speaking for myself, I secretly love violent fairy tales! As for the misogyny and heteronormativity embedded in many of them (particularly nineteenth century tales), I take them as a product of their time. However, we at the Monash Fairy Tale Salon often explore protofeminist fairy tales as well (such as those of seventeenth-century French women).

Q. Does the group explore tales from both the literary and oral traditions?

We primarily explore tales from the literary tradition, which is why it’s been such a treat to include oral performances in the two events we’ve run.

Q. Has the group looked at the  Australian Fairy Tales of Olga Cohn and Olga Ernst and others?

In our meetings on Australian fairy tales this year we focused on colonial collectors of Indigenous tales such as Katie Langloh Parker. But Olga Cohn and Olga Ernst will go on the list!

Q. In what ways do you think the Monash Fairy Tale Salon would be of interest to members of Storytelling Australia (Vic)?

Given that we deal with literary fairy tales and Storytelling Australia (Vic) deals with oral storytelling, the two groups are a great balance for each other. Plus, we love to involve your wonderful storytellers in our events.

Q. How do people follow the discussion and keep up to date with future programs?

The best way is to follow our blog to be alerted about new posts. We will also be sure to post about any events that we organise in the future.

I encourage you to check out the website and sign on for the newsletters. Please let your OS and interstate colleagues know of this initiative.

posted by Jackie Kerin