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“Consuming Agency in Fairy Tales, Childlore, and Folkliterature”

February 18, 2013

Holly Blackford’s review of Susan Honeyman’s Consuming Agency in Fairy Tales, Childlore, and Folkliterature  has me wondering and thinking… and wanting to read the book…. Here are a couple of points made by Blackford about Consuming Agency:

“Susan Honeyman has assembled an impressive array of sources to study the decline of children’s agency in folkloric texts” (p.343)… “After reading her relentless critique of the ways in which adults tame children through food and protectionist rhetoric, you’ll see seemingly child-centered edibles like candy and gingerbread houses for the sticky traps they are.” (p.343)

For example, “Authenticity rather than will—becoming a real boy rather than a man—defines Collodi’s Pinocchio as he encounters American  consumer culture, just as the imperfect toys on Rudolf ’s Island of Misfit Toys become magically whole when they are adopted. Honeyman’s intent is to show what happens to texts in the postindustrial period when children transform from active laborers to priceless (consumer) objects, but her breadth revitalizes the familiar argument in new and exciting ways.” (p.344)

Apparently Honeyman considers the figure of the trickster, the use of molasses as a trope in American narratives, the modern meaning of Halloween, and Popeye’s spinach, among other things… including, as texts referenced, AI and Twilight…  and “The book’s conclusion returns to the question of inanimate beings such as the golem, the homunculus, and even the cyborg: “These beings beckon children to enter into relations with commodities, to identify with commodities, to accept their own commodification” (184).” (p.345) hmmmm

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