PROJECTS AND RESEARCH
Here you'll find information about events, exhibitions, conferences, etc. and research and publications by BGSNA members and friends.
Do you have an event or endeavor you'd like to share on this page? Email us: firstname.lastname@example.org
The BGSNA is looking for partners in pediatric hospitals or homes with sick children.
The relatively new concept of Narrative Medicine or the Humanities in Medicine has a positive impact on patients and caregivers.
Telling stories or fairy tales to a sick child not only prompts the child to tell his/her story that is highly valuable for healthcare professionals, but it also reduces pain and stress and increases oxytocin levels. These are the results of a research study involving children in critical care units (www.medicalxpress.com).
Many Grimm fairy tales are about animals, animals that can speak and tell their stories of suffering. Telling such stories to a sick child can lead a child to his/her story to share with healthcare givers. Telling fantastic tales removes children – and adult patients – from their own suffering and leads them to imagine other worlds which have a healing result.
There are 200 Grimm fairy tales which lend themselves perfectly for reading to children, because most of them are short stories. The illustrations in many books (e.g., by Jack Zipes, The Original Folk and Fairy Tales of the Brothers Grimm: The Complete First Edition. Princeton University Press 2016, p.568 or any other edition) could help to determine which story the individual child wishes to hear.
Please contact M. Zinggeler, email@example.com or contact the BGSNA via the form below!
SHARE HOW THE GRIMMS OR FAIRY TALES HAVE TOUCHED YOUR LIFE!
Share a short paragraph with us about how the work of the Brothers Grimm or fairy tales in general have had an impact in your life.
By Sumneet Kaur Pahwa
On the occasion of Mother’s Day (May 14, 2023), I would like to share how the routine reading of Grimm’s fairy tales to my daughter every night before going to bed became a source of publication of my book named: GRIMMS’ TALES OF BLESSINGS AND CURSE — IN VERSE. The tour of fairy tales with my daughter initiated in the womb, when I would lovingly place my hand on my bloated stomach and narrate a story to the part of my flesh and blood. One night, when my daughter fell asleep having heard only half of “Snow-White and the Seven Dwarfs,” I could not leave reading the rest of it, as a matter of practice. A pair of rhyming words in a sentence in the book prompted me to pick up the pen and try to see if the whole story could be rewritten using rhyming words. The first write up of “Snow-White and the Seven Dwarfs” read well, and incidentally, sounded melodious. My enthusiasm to rewrite these fairy tales in rhyming form was reinforced when I recited my poetic version of the story, “Snow-White and the Seven Dwarfs” to my daughter, and she was happy to repeat the words: rhyme-time, frown-crown, glow-snow, wall-all and alone-stone etc. from that very day. Interestingly, I heard her iterating these rhyming words while enjoying her bubble-bath, while dressing her dolls, and even at the dinning-table. I realized rhyming words, music, melody, harmony and tune had added enjoyment, entertainment and fun to, at times, discouraging chore of learning how to read. So, I comprehended that the deliberate use of novel and repetitive rhyming words in the book shall help children to learn about sounds and language construction at a faster pace because the initial literacy skills of children relate to listening and speaking rather than reading and writing. They shall be able to spot words that share common sounds and common alphabets. They will not only come across a rhythm of language but also learn intonation when they would hear these stories being narrated in modulating and animating voices of their parents/grandparents and teachers. From there began the journey of Grimms’ Tales of Blessings and Curse — In Verse in the last trimester of the year 2018. I ordered some translations of The Complete Grimms’ Fairy Tales. To rephrase the prose stories with a rhyme scheme, I shortlisted fifteen fairy tales and published the book in 2021. I have felt that each story of Grimms Tales would offer to my daughter her first other world — most of the times beautiful and sometimes full of perils; sometimes as comfortable as her mother’s lap and sometimes as painful as the first bruise or incision. The tales would take us both on a roller coaster ride widening our sense of imagination. These inventive stories are a rich assemblage of photographic, visual, pictorial, filmic, painterly, and incidental or anecdotal components which have enhanced the intuitive and the instinctive emotions in both of us. These stories of damsels in problems, demons and dragons, strong saviours, and blessings and curses have depicted for her real moral lessons through uprightness of virtuous characters and defeat of the evil ones. The reading of fairy tales in infancy and early childhood has helped a special parent-child relationship to be formed and strengthened. When I would narrate these stories to her, my mind used to be charmed too. I was also transported into the world of castles, long hair, fair skins, wolves and lambs and I would forget the sordid reality of the contemporary world. I am sharing here an excerpt from “Little Snow-White” which became my daughter’s favourite while I was writing the book: The seven dwarfs, who mined the mountains searching for ore, in the morning early had left, When on returning saw they their house tousled a bit, thought they there had been a theft… One by one the dwarfs said: “In my chair somebody sat, From my plate somebody had… Somebody took my bread, Somebody tasted my vegies in pieces shred… My fork has been used, One who mishandled my knife would not be excused,” They were all confused, And their search they continued… While inspecting their messy beds last one said, “Somebody has drunk wine out of my mug,” Finally, they were happy to see a lovely child sleeping on their seventh rug…
MY FAIRY-TALE STORY: AN IMPORTANT BOOK
By Julie Koehler
In high school, I worked afternoons at a local used bookshop, Books Abound. We sold just about everything from paperbacks to collector’s items. One day I noticed a new book on incoming shelf. It had a worn cover and the title was in a foreign language, but I recognized one of the words, “Grimms.” As I opened the book and turned its pages, I began to recognize scenes from fairy tales I knew, “Snow White” and “Hansel and Gretel.” The owner returned and I asked him if he knew what language the book was in and he told me it was German. I remember feeling a sort of awe that was holding Grimms’ fairy tales in the original German. Though I couldn’t read German, I felt determined to buy the text. The bookstore owner, a kind man who always supported my reading interests, set it aside for me and I saved up a few paychecks to afford it. Once I owned it, I poured over the text, memorizing the beautiful illustrations, which I would later learn were drawn by Gustaf Tenggren, who later went on to be chief animator on Disney’s Snow White. I tried to learn some of the titles that I recognized. The following year, I started college, and I began studying German. It was my goal from the first day of class to learn to read the book. Though I was soon frustrated to learn that the typeface was Fraktur, and I had yet more to learn in order to be able to understand first the letters and then the words. Still, I learned to read it by my sophomore year, and during my year abroad, I surprised many classmates when I was the only one among us who could read Fraktur. My interest in German and fairy tales led to a German major and an Honors thesis on “Hansel and Gretel.” Then a Masters of German, and doctorate in Modern Languages, and a dissertation on “Frau Holle.” Though I didn’t know it at the time, that little book planted a seed in me that led to my career in Fairy Tale Studies and German.
THE GOLDEN KEY
By Claudia Schwabe
The Grimms and I go way back. I was born in 1980 in Hanau, Germany, and thus share the same birth place as the infamous Brothers Grimm. I like to imagine that I was meant to become a fairy-tale scholar and make a career of “Märchen” (fairy tale in German) because of it. I vividly remember my grandmother Ingrid reading me the Grimms’ fairy tales whenever I had a sleepover at her place. She had a wonderful reading voice and I especially loved listening to her narrating the tale “The Fisherman and His Wife.” In 2017, when she turned 96, I asked her to read me a short snippet of that fairy tale again, which I recorded on my phone. Her storytelling voice, saved now as an artefact in the form of an audio file, is my personal “golden key” that I hold dear. I realize now that it opened for me that little chest full of wonderful things as described by the Grimms because it granted me access to the world of fairy stories. Ingrid passed away in 2022 at the remarkable age of 101. Besides listening to fairy-tale audio plays, attending fairy-tale theater plays, and visiting fairy-tale theme parks (you are exposed to the Grimms’ fairy tales quite a bit when you grow up in the vicinity of Hanau), I was fascinated with the television show The Storyteller by Jim Henderson and fairy-tale retellings in the form of Japanese animated television series. When I was asked later to pick a research field for my PhD studies at the University of Florida, I knew it could only be fairy tales. I wrote my doctoral dissertation about Orientalism in German literary fairy tales or “Kunstmärchen” and attended my first fairy-tale class taught by Dr. John Cech. I was an absolute novice to the academic field of fairy-tale studies. In 2012, it was the 200th anniversary of the Grimms’ fairy-tale collection and, encouraged by Dr. Cech, I gave my first presentations on German fairy tales at Harvard University and at the University of Lisbon, Portugal.
EVERYBODY LIKES FAIRY TALES, NO ONE LIKES GRAMMAR (ALMOST)
By Margrit Zinggeler
Growing up in rural Northeastern Switzerland, fairy tale characters were very much alive in our village, like the old scary looking widow – whom the children called a witch – in the dilapidated house near the woods, or shoemaker Kunz who made our torn shoes whole and shiny again in his ancient shop where fine leather pieces hang in the window. We were sure that Elves like in the Grimm’s fairy tale (# 039) secretly made shoes for him at night, or the jolly Frau Hurst who shacked her big pillows out of the window as “Mother Holle” did so that it snowed. Of course, we had picture books with the Grimm’s fairy tales, and our understanding of rich and poor, beautiful and ugly, good and evil was greatly influenced by them and reinforced by our grandmother and mother when reading to us. We believed in the magic as a reward for doing good.
Magic had happened, like in Scheherazade’s stories with the far traveling, flying camels, that eventually I found myself in the Ph.D. program of German at the University of Minnesota just about to finish my studies when Jack Zipes arrived to teach his legendary fairy tale courses. I almost wanted to add another semester. Prof. Zipes was so gracious to be on my dissertation defense committee, even though I had focused my research on Swiss and German women writers. In 1999, I became Professor of German at Eastern Michigan University adding scholarly work about the German-speaking cultures and the teaching of college German and Business German. All German grammar books were structured in similar fashion, chapters for the ten parts of speech, starting with the variable ones – the articles, nouns, adjectives, verbs, and the invariable German parts of speech, the adverbs, prepositions, conjunctions, numerals, and interjections/particles, – and how these elements build sentences and phrases. By the time students were in the chapter of the subjunctive verb tense, they had forgotten the rules for adjective endings. Grammar books offer tables and lists meant to be learned by heart, and drill exercises ad infinitum. – How could I bring some excitement into grammar teaching and learning? What about using the original brothers Grimm fairy tales? They are relatively short, students already know some American adaptations, the structure of the language and content is relatively simple and repetitive, and they represent historic German culture. I did a survey to find out whether intermediate students of German would sign up for a grammar class based on a selection of the Grimm’s fairy tales. The response was overwhelming. The concept of GRIMMATIK (a neologism of Grimm, the brothers last name, and the word “Grammatik,” grammar in German) was born.
I traveled to Germany to learn everything I could about the Grimm’s fairy tales, legends, and linguistic books by Jacob Grimm, and choosing illustrations by Emil Grimm, the often-forgotten brother of Wilhelm and Jacob, at the Grimm Archives in Kassel for my project. The director, Dr Bernhard Lauer, has been of tremendous help and a wonderful supporter. At the Institute of German Language in Mannheim, I was introduced to the digital corpus of Grimm Fairy Tales and Legends (part of the German Reference Corpus). The free and easily accessible Grimm corpus became an integral part of the GRIMMATIK-method. With the textbook GRIMMATIK: German Grammar trough the Magic of the Brothers Grimm Fairy Tales (Lincom 2007, e-book 2016), students evaluate all parts of speech in a fairy tale in each of the fourteen chapters and they fill out the tables with the results of their analysis themselves. Consequently, wonderful things happened: students began to grasp German grammar and they were amazed at the sometimes raw and other times deeply moral and beautiful tales. As a final project students wrote their own fairy tales containing common motives and always magic. After some reviews of the texts, they told their tales in the joint oral final exam. As an additional result, several students chose fairy tales for research projects, also later in graduate school.
I expanded the concept and wrote Phonogrimm: German Phonetics with the Brothers Grimm Fairy Tales (2016) that introduces students to German phones/phonemes and pronunciation by story-telling. Furthermore, I applied for a grant to travel with a dozen of students to tour the famous fairy tale route in Germany. We started in Hanau, the birthplace of the brothers, and concluded the wonderful journey in Bremen.
Since my research days at the Brothers Grimm Archive and the International Grimm Conference in 2012 to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the first publication of the Grimm fairy tales (Kinder- und Hausmärchen, KHM) in Kassel, I have envisioned an American Brothers Grimm Society. No other culture than the U.S. has so widely adapted the Grimm tales because of Walt Disney’s popularization in animated movies and consecutive films and theme parks, so much even that many think that Cinderella, Snow White, the Frog Prince, Rapunzel, Rumpelstilzin, etc., are the creations of Disney.
Not because of magic but with dedication and work the BROTHERS GRIMM SOCIETY OF NORTH AMERICA (BGSNA) was founded in the fall of 2021. Its growth, though, will be magical, since enchanting things will happen when you are touched by fairy tales.
A NEW GRIMM SCHOLAR
Brandy E. Wilcox
I am currently a visiting faculty member, finishing my dissertation on the adaptations of "Der Froschkönig" and "Rapunzel" in East German and Disney film in the spring of 2023. If you would like to see some of my articles or learn a bit more about me, please reach out by email or visit my webpage, www.brandyewilcox.com
FOR LIBRARY AND SCHOOL PROGRAMS
"What's in Your Basket? - Food in (Grimm) Fairy Tales and Healthy and Beautiful Eating Today"
Libraries and schools, please contact us by email for didactic material: firstname.lastname@example.org