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An Epidemic of Rumors Cover

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An Epidemic of Rumors

How Stories Shape Our Perception of Disease

By Jon D. Lee

In An Epidemic of Rumors, Jon D. Lee examines the human response to epidemics through the lens of the 2003 SARS epidemic. Societies usually respond to the eruption of disease by constructing stories, jokes, conspiracy theories, legends, and rumors, but these narratives are often more damaging than the diseases they reference. The information disseminated through them is often inaccurate, incorporating xenophobic explanations of the disease’s origins and questionable medical information about potential cures and treatment.

Folklore studies brings important and useful perspectives to understanding cultural responses to the outbreak of disease. Through this etiological study Lee shows the similarities between the narratives of the SARS outbreak and the narratives of other contemporary disease outbreaks like AIDS and the H1N1 virus. His analysis suggests that these disease narratives do not spring up with new outbreaks or diseases but are in continuous circulation and are recycled opportunistically. Lee also explores whether this predictability of vernacular disease narratives presents the opportunity to create counter-narratives released systematically from the government or medical science to stymie the negative effects of the fearful rumors that so often inflame humanity.

With potential for practical application to public health and health policy, An Epidemic of Rumors will be of interest to students and scholars of health, medicine, and folklore.

Erotic Infidelities Cover

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Erotic Infidelities

Love and Enchantment in Angela Carter's The Bloody Chamber

Kimberly J. Lau

In the thirty-five years since the publication of The Bloody Chamber, Angela Carter’s reimagined fairy tales have inspired an impressive body of criticism. Yet none has addressed the ways her fairy tales grapple with and seek to overcome the near impossibility of heterosexual love and desire under patriarchy. In Erotic Infidelities: Love and Enchantment in Angela Carter’s The Bloody Chamber, author Kimberly J. Lau argues that the strangeness of Carter’s fairy-tale enchantments—the moments when love or erotic desire escape the deeply familiar, habitual structures and ideologies that contain them—show the momentary, fleeting possibilities for heterosexual love and desire. Lau begins by situating her reading of The Bloody Chamber—as individual stories and as a collection—within and against the critical literature, especially that which addresses Carter’s relationship to psychoanalytic theory and issues of language and desire. In chapter 2, she illustrates Carter’s construction of gender and language as labyrinthine structures—complex cultural edifices constructed and augmented over time. She moves on to consider Carter’s “feline stories” in chapter 3—“The Courtship of Mr. Lyon,” “The Tiger’s Bride,” and “Puss-in-Boots”—as an initial move away from the labyrinthine structures and toward an alternate erotics. In chapter 4, she reads “The Erl-King” and “The Snow Child” as another pair of mirrored tales, while chapter 5 elaborates on the pedophilic and necrophiliac fantasies of a pornographic culture, introduced in the previous chapter with the Count’s desire for the Snow Child. In chapter 6, Lau situates Carter’s three concluding stories—the wolf trilogy—within the context of feminist psychoanalytic understandings of infidelity as that which destabilizes patriarchal hegemonies and constructs. Lau argues that Carter’s “erotic infidelities” work against our culturally determined expectations and longings and usher us into welcome new enchantments. Situated at the intersection of feminist, psychoanalytic, literary, and fairy-tale studies, readers interested in a variety of scholarly disciplines as well as scholars of Carter’s tales will enjoy Lau’s look at enduring questions of gender, sexuality, and desire.

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Essential Song

Three Decades of Northern Cree Music

Includes audio CD with over 50 Cree hunting songs

Essential Song: Three Decades of Northern Cree Music, a study of subarctic Cree hunting songs, is the first detailed ethnomusicology of the northern Cree of Quebec and Manitoba. The result of more than two decades spent in the North learning from the Cree, Lynn Whidden’s account discusses the tradition of the hunting songs, their meanings and origins, and their importance to the hunt. She also examines women’s songs, and traces the impact of social change—including the introduction of hymns, Gospel tunes, and country music—on the song traditions of these communities.

The book also explores the introduction of powwow song into the subarctic and the Crees struggle to maintain their Aboriginal heritage—to find a kind of song that, like the hunting songs, can serve as a spiritual guide and force.

Including profiles of the hunters and their songs and accompanied by an original audio CD of more than fifty Cree hunting songs, Essential Song makes an important contribution to ethnomusicology, social history, and Aboriginal studies.

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Everyday Music

Exploring Sounds and Cultures

Alan Govenar; Online teaching resources by Paddy Bowman

Native American drumming and chant; Czech and German polka; country fiddling; African American spirituals, blues and jazz; cowboy songs; Mexican corridos; zydeco; and the sounds of a Cambodian New Year’s celebration — all are part of the amazing cultural patchwork of traditional music in Texas. In Everyday Music, author and researcher Alan Govenar brings readers face-to-face with the stories and memories of people who are as varied as the traditions they carry on.? In 1986, Alan Govenar traveled more than 35,000 miles around Texas, interviewing, recording, and photographing the vast cultural landscape of the state. In Everyday Music, he compares his experiences then with his attempts to reconnect with the people and traditions that he had originally documented. ?Stopping at gas stations, restaurants, or street-corner groceries in small towns and inner-city neighborhoods, Govenar asked local residents about local music and musicians. What he found on his road trip around the state—and what he shares in the pages of this book — are the time-honored songs, tunes, and musical instruments that have been passed down from one generation to the next. Govenar invites you to accompany him on his journey — one that will forever change the way you look at the traditional music that is such an important part of our everyday lives.? Everyday Music is accompanied by a special online resource (www.everydaymusiconline.org) with video clips, recorded interviews, and performances. The site also features special resources for teachers who want to bring this rich cultural experience into their classrooms and for general readers who simply want to know more.

Explaining Traditions Cover

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Explaining Traditions

Folk Behavior in Modern Culture

Simon J. Bronner

Why do humans hold onto traditions? Many pundits predicted that modernization and the rise of a mass culture would displace traditions, especially in America, but cultural practices still bear out the importance of rituals and customs in the development of identity, heritage, and community. In Explaining Traditions: Folk Behavior in Modern Culture, Simon J. Bronner discusses the underlying reasons for the continuing significance of traditions, delving into their social and psychological roles in everyday life, from old-time crafts to folk creativity on the Internet. Challenging prevailing notions of tradition as a relic of the past, Explaining Traditions provides deep insight into the nuances and purposes of living traditions in relation to modernity. Bronner’s work forces readers to examine their own traditions and imparts a better understanding of raging controversies over the sustainability of traditions in the modern world.

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Exploring Folk Art

Michael Owen Jones

Jones explores the human impulse to create, the necessity for having aesthetically satisfying experiences, and the craving for tradition. He also considers topics such as making chairs, remodeling houses, using and preserving soda-fountain slang, preparing and eating food, and sculpting lifelike figures out of cement.

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The Exquisite Corpse of Asian America

Biopolitics, Biosociality, and Posthuman Ecologies

Rachel Lee

The Exquisite Corpse of Asian America addresses this central question: if race has been settled as a legal or social construction and not as biological fact, why do Asian American artists, authors, and performers continue to scrutinize their body parts? Engaging novels, poetry, theater, and new media from both the U.S. and internationally—such as Kazuo Ishiguro’s science fiction novel Never Let Me Go or Ruth Ozeki’s My Year of Meats and exhibits like that of Body Worlds in which many of the bodies on display originated from Chinese prisons—Rachel C. Lee teases out the preoccupation with human fragments and posthuman ecologies in the context of Asian American cultural production and theory. She unpacks how the designation of “Asian American” itself is a mental construct that is paradoxically linked to the biological body.
 
Through chapters that each use a body part as springboard for reading Asian American texts, Lee inaugurates a new avenue of research on biosociality and biopolitics within Asian American criticism, focused on the literary and cultural understandings of pastoral governmentality, the divergent scales of embodiment, and the queer (cross)species being of racial subjects. She establishes an intellectual alliance and methodological synergy between Asian American studies and Science and Technology Studies (STS), biocultures, medical humanities, and femiqueer approaches to family formation, carework, affect, and ethics. In pursuing an Asian Americanist critique concerned with speculative and real changes to human biologies, she both produces innovation within the field and demonstrates the urgency of that critique to other disciplines.

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Fairy Godfather

Straparola, Venice, and the Fairy Tale Tradition

By Ruth B. Bottigheimer

In the classic rags-to-riches fairy tale a penniless heroine (or hero), with some magic help, marries a royal prince (or princess) and rises to wealth. Received opinion has long been that stories like these originated among peasants, who passed them along by word of mouth from one place to another over the course of centuries. In a bold departure from conventional fairy tale scholarship, Ruth B. Bottigheimer asserts that city life and a single individual played a central role in the creation and transmission of many of these familiar tales. According to her, a provincial boy, Zoan Francesco Straparola, went to Venice to seek his fortune and found it by inventing the modern fairy tale, including the long beloved Puss in Boots, and by selling its many versions to the hopeful inhabitants of that colorful and commercially bustling city.

With innovative literary sleuthing, Bottigheimer has reconstructed the actual composition of Straparola's collection of tales. Grounding her work in social history of the Renaissance Venice, Bottigheimer has created a possible biography for Straparola, a man about whom hardly anything is known. This is the first book-length study of Straparola in any language.

Fairy Tale as Myth/Myth as Fairy Tale Cover

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Fairy Tale as Myth/Myth as Fairy Tale

Jack Zipes

" Explores the historical rise of the literary fairy tale as genre in the late seventeenth century. In his examinations of key classical fairy tales, Zipes traces their unique metamorphoses in history with stunning discoveries that reveal their ideological relationship to domination and oppression. Tales such as Beauty and the Beast, Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, and Rumplestiltskin have become part of our everyday culture and shapers of our identities. In this lively work, Jack Zipes explores the historical rise of the literary fairy tale as genre in the late seventeenth century and examines the ideological relationship of classic fairy tales to domination and oppression in Western society. The fairy tale received its most "mythic" articulation in America. Consequently, Zipes sees Walt Disney's Snow White as an expression of American male individualism, film and literary interpretations of L. Frank Baum's The Wizard of Oz as critiques of American myths, and Robert Bly's Iron John as a misunderstanding of folklore and traditional fairy tales. This book will change forever the way we look at the fairy tales of our youth.

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Fairy Tale Films

Visions of Ambiguity

Pauline Greenhill

In this, the first collection of essays to address the development of fairy tale film as a genre, Pauline Greenhill and Sidney Eve Matrix stress, "the mirror of fairy-tale film reflects not so much what its audience members actually are but how they see themselves and their potential to develop (or, likewise, to regress)." As Jack Zipes says further in the foreword, “Folk and fairy tales pervade our lives constantly through television soap operas and commercials, in comic books and cartoons, in school plays and storytelling performances, in our superstitions and prayers for miracles, and in our dreams and daydreams. The artistic re-creations of fairy-tale plots and characters in film—the parodies, the aesthetic experimentation, and the mixing of genres to engender new insights into art and life— mirror possibilities of estranging ourselves from designated roles, along with the conventional patterns of the classical tales.”

Here, scholars from film, folklore, and cultural studies move discussion beyond the well-known Disney movies to the many other filmic adaptations of fairy tales and to the widespread use of fairy tale tropes, themes, and motifs in cinema.

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