domingo, 28 de octubre de 2012

"Contribution to the analysis of literature for children"

There were many significant characters who specialised in the analysis of literature for children. Each of them studied a specific area or psychological aspects of kids' mind to know in details their reactions, thoughts as well as feelings while reading fairy tales. Those incredible genious were: Vladimir Propp, Bruno Bettelheim, Maria Tatar and Kieran Egan.

Vladimir Propp belonged to a German family who was born on April 17th in St. Petersburg in 1895. He attended St Petersburg University, where he had Philosophy in German and Russian languages. After his graduation, he began to teach both at secondary school to become a German teacher later on.

After 1938, he focused on Folklore to be chaired the Department of it until he became part of the Department of Russian literature.

Vladimir Propp developed a Russian Formalist Approach to study and analyse fairy tales, where narratives structures were reduced to a series of actions performed by the dramatic characters in each story. Propp also argued that all fairy tales were constructed of certain plot elements, which he called "functions" that ocurred in an uniform sequence. These functions were absentation, interdiction, violation of interdiction, reconnaissance, delivery, trickery, complicity, villiany and lack, mediation, counter-action and the different roles of heros and villains could play in a story. Each function explained how they worked jointly, however, fairy tales also needed several other elements such as their respective plot, settings, tone, and characters in order to gain a cohesive and well-written tale for children.
Vladimir Propp died in 1970.

Read more about V. Propp by clicking here.

Bruno Bettelheim was born on August 28th in Viena in 1903. He was a controversial Austrian Psychoanalyst and Educational Psychologist who pioneered in the aplication of Psychoanalysis to the treatment of emotionally-disturbed children.

During his studies in Viena, Bruno was influenced by World War I, the Bolshevik Revolution, and Sigmund Freud who was the most important one for him since Bettelheim reflected interest in Psychoanalysis.

Bruno moved to United States, where he worked as a Psychologist and Psychiatric Professor at the University of Chicago in 1963. He viewed children's behaviour as resulting from overwhelmingly negative parents interacting with them during critical early stages in their Psychological development.

Afterwards, he published one of his book called "The Uses of Enchantment, which had a popular Psychoanalytical look at fairy tales. Bruno contributed that classic fairy tales had an unique importance and impact on children's development, which could be explored by studying their styles, characters and themes.

To begin with, styles were related to happy endings in which good was rewarded and evil was punished. Bruno explained that children felt more confident to believe in themselves and have hope as well. He also mentioned that happy endings satisfied children's spiritual desires.

Another characteristic of fairy tale style was the classic opening words "Once upon a time", Bruno made a comparison between real world and fantasy world where the youngest readers could release their spirit from the materialistic real world to the happy, vivid and innocent world of the fairy tale in order to become more optimistic in life.

Bettelheim mentioned the last issue about fairy tale style, the common use of "Three main characters" in many classic ones. The number gave children a sense of security because of their perfect and complete feature.

On the other hand, characters seemed to be a significant element in every fairy tale. They could be heros or heroines who must overcome many difficulties, challenges and obstacles in order to get triumph. According to Bruno Bettelheim, children tried to imitate their manners as well as their qualities to be successful in life.

Another indispensable type of character was the evils who played a violent role in fairy tales, affecting children's psyche. However, Bruno denied those negative effects produced by them because kids learnt that they must not do bad things to appeal punishmemts and they also learnt how to cope with their fears.

Last but not at least, the theme also played a primordial role in fairy tales. From Bruno's point of view, the theme depended on what the story was about and it transmited a meaningful message for kids to train and develop maturity and independence for the future.
Bruno Bettelheim died in 1990.

If you want to read more about Bruno Bettelheim, just click here.

Maria Tatar was a Professor of Gernamic Languages and Literatures. She chaired the programme in Folklore and Mythology at Havard University, where she taught courses in German Studies, Folklore, and Children's literature.

Tatar was interested in how the fairy tales were first written down, what the cultural variants were, the ways in which the texts reflected the historical realities of another time and place and the Psychological effects. By providing children with powerful models for navigating reality, Maria showed, these tales helped children to survive in the world ruled by adults.

Tatar also believed that fairy tales were connected with all kind of adult secrets for they told children about death, romance, marriage and, in some cases, they would speak about sex and violence.

Fairy tales were often brutally violent but they acted as a therapy as well as entertainment for kids. Maria Tatar added that such violence helped little ones to face their fears, for which they did not yet the exact language developed. In fact, children were weak and vulnerable to control their anxieties, too. In that case, adults played an important role to clarify children fears through explanations, experience, among others.

At last, Tatar expressed that stories shared moral aspects, giving life's lessons and transmitting marvellous messages for kids. Nevertheless, she explained that moral was often added to fairy tales when they were rewritten for children.

Maria Tatar´s Offical Page.

Kieran Egan was born in Ireland in 1942, and he was brought up and educated in England. He graduated in 1966. During his career, he worked as a Professor in many Universities and he was also the Founder and Director of the Imaginative Education Research Group, where he found out Education involved some kind of development on children, especially intellectual tools, like Language or Mathematics and thus, their Psychological Process became more mature to acquire knowledge to learn and understand concepts in a better way.Egan developed an Imaginative Approach to Teaching to help kids to become more knowledgeable and more creative in their thinking. In fact, that new approach offered an understanding of how children's imagination worked in learning and showed how children acquired cognitive tools to promote creativity in the classroom. To achieve that, educators could imply a variety of effective teaching tools such as story, rhythym, play, opposition, agency, and meta-narrative understanding to awaken kids' intelligence and imagination.
Futhermore, Kieran proposed the use of intellectual tools, particularly Language or Literacy to generate successive kinds of understanting, like somatic, mythic, romantic, philosophical, and ironic. Egan concluded that if teachers put them into practice, their way of teaching would change completely and children would be more engaged in the classroom.

To put it briefly, each of these well-known professionals contributed through different techniques to the analysis of literature for children.

In you want to read more about K. Egan and the proposed tools click here.

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