Unit 2: The Wolf and the Dough Children: Investigating a Folktale

Artist: The ChinaVine team in collaboration with Liang Xiucai and the Lang Village in Shandong province

Media: Drawing, Animation, and Storytelling

Read/View:http://chinavine.org/2011/05/02/artistintroliangxiucai/ andhttp://chinavine.org/2011/06/16/wolfanddoughchildren/

Overview of Unit: Every cultural group, no matter where it is in the world, has folktales. Folk tales change over time and from place to place, as does folk art. People who tell traditional stories change them to make them their own. Often folktales are adapted to create special meaning for new audiences living in different geographic places and historical times. The Wolf and the Dough Children is a story told in Lang Village in Shandong province. The storybook posted on the ChinaVine website was created by a group of faculty and students at the University of Central Florida after learning about the folktale through a translator traveling with the ChinaVine team in Lang Village.

Philosophy/Folklore: The Wolf and the Dough Children is a legend. Legends are localized stories with heroes and heroines that depicts an historical figure or event. Often legends seem believable because they relate to a community’s daily reality. The values of the group to whom the story belongs are usually embedded in the story. When the story is taken out of its original context, new values may be imposed.

Lesson 1: Grounding Folktales in Context

Folktales communicate varying meanings over time and place, as those who tell and listen to these stories have different values and ways of thinking. This lesson explores ways in which folktales can be interpreted and told.

Lesson 2: Creating Change in Folktales

In order for folktales to maintain meaning, storytellers adapt them to their own particular time and place. This is especially true as stories go from one culture to another where the context can be dramatically different. This lesson invites storytellers to adapt the Wolf tale to their own contexts.

Lesson 3: Exploring Ideas about Voice

Because so many people tell a particular folktale and there are so many variations of tale, it is usually hard to say who owns a particular story. Likewise, the characters in stories can be told from numerous perspectives. This lesson analyzes questions about key voices in a folktale.