Western Folklore

Vol. 81 No. 4 – Fall, 2022

(Current Issue)



“It was Ill Done, My Mother, to Deny Me Life”: Rejecting the Role of Motherhood in Icelandic Folk Legends

Dagrún Ósk Jónsdóttir

ABSTRACT: This article examines the ways in which women who reject the role of motherhood are presented in the Icelandic folk legend collections from the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. It focuses on narratives dealing with both women (married or otherwise) who choose not to have children, and unmarried women who become pregnant and leave their children outside to die of exposure. These women challenged the ruling ideology of the time with regard to sexuality and motherhood, but in addition, there was evidently a class divide in their treatment: while women of lower classes were punished for breaking hegemonic ideas and often appeared as pariahs, women of higher classes were given a greater chance of redemption. Also, while the responsibility for children was obviously seen as resting on women’s shoulders, men and Christianity appear to have had the final say as to the enforcement of rules. KEYWORDS: legends, femininity, motherhood, Iceland, rural, morality

From the Women’s Script Tradition to the “Octagonal Flower” Dance Extravaganza in Jiangyong, China Cultural Shows as Local ICH Solutions

He Yan

ABSTRACT: As part of an intangible cultural heritage (ICH) program for developing regional cultural economies, the motif of the octagonal flower has been converted into a symbol of a tradition and is used as a branding device. This article contends that, as heritage intervention passes from government to locals, this re-branded women’s script culture becomes a tradition in its own right. Local traditions should be examined without limiting notions of authenticity, in order to understand ICH in China as it develops within a period of radical social change. KEYWORDS: Jiangyong, women’s script, octagonal flower, ICH, symbolic meaning, cultural identity

Rejuvenated by the Goddess of Memory: of Narrative and Identity

Yuanhao Zhao

ABSTRACT: Life-story narratives are often used to sustain a self-identity continuing from retrospection to present. In this article, I analyze narratives from my interlocutor, the late Aam, about his sen-sual encounters with women in his younger years. I show how Aam, then a paralytic old man, used these narratives to merge the dislocation between his current situation and his past, to uphold his identity as a responsible and attractive man, and to engage with the community as a respected member. KEYWORDS: Narrative, gender, self-expression, elder, life story


Rocking the Closet: How Little Richard, Johnnie Ray, Liberace, and Johnny Mathis Queered Pop Music. By Vincent L. Stephens (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2019).
Reviewed by Jeremy S. Boorum

The Broken Spell: Indian Storytelling and the Romance Genre in Persian and Urdu. By Pasha M. Khan. (Detroit, Mich.: Wayne State University Press, 2019)
Reviewed by Heeralpreet K Kahlon

Rethinking American Music. Edited by Tara Browner and Thomas L. Riis (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2019).
Reviewed by Thomas Kersen

Drawing down the Moon: Magic in the Ancient Greco-Roman World. By Radcliffe G. Edmonds III. (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2019).
Reviewed by Annabel Macpherson

Pussy Hats, Politics and Public Protest. Edited by Rachelle Hope Saltzman. (University of Mississippi: Jackson, 2020).
Reviewed by Jennifer Mansfield

Woke Cinderella: Twenty-First-Century Adaptions. Edited by Suzy Woltmann. (Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2020).
Reviewed by Aisha Manus

Playing with the Book: Victorian Moveable Books and the Child Reader. Hannah Field. (Minneapolis: U of Minnesota P, 2019).
Reviewed by Marcie Panutsos Rovan

The Practice of Folklore: Essays toward a Theory of Tradition. Simon J. Bronner. (Jackson, MS: University Press of Mississippi, 2019).
Reviewed by Lisa M. Ruch

Religion and Myth in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. By Michael D. Nichols. (Jefferson: McFarland & Company, Inc., Publishers, 2021
Reviewed by James Eric Siburt

Inari Sámi Folklore: Stories from Aanaar. August V. Koskimies and Toivo I. Itkonen. Revised by Lea Laitinen. Edited and translated by Tim Frandy. (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 2019).
Reviewed by Hilary-Joy Virtanen