The Story of the Sister: Studying Gendered Abuse in the Grimms' Tales

Reid Schuetz Butler University
Faculty Sponsor(s): Jeana Jorgensen Butler University
My study aims to connect human-animal relationships, kinship systems, and gender in narrative folklore about abuse and trauma. In the Grimms’ 19th century folktale collection, they included a version of an international tale plot titled “Brother and Sister” that followed the story of young siblings who escaped an abusive family. The brother is transformed into an animal and the sister is forced to care for him even when kidnapped by the king. In the end, the brother was disenchanted after further persecution by the abusive stepmother. This story has been distributed throughout Europe and provides a symbolic way to discuss abuse. My research is taken from different theoretical aspects of feminism, human-animal relationships, and folklore studies to connect how we discuss trauma and taboo topics in narrative. Finally, I introduce a creative retelling I authored to help bring emphasis on these points by setting the tale in a more modern era and highlighting the gendered dynamic of abuse and kinship systems.
Anthropology
Oral Presentation

When & Where

11:00 AM
Jordan Hall 242