1 November 2004
Today's Topic: Discuss ''Br'er Rabbit''
Br'er Rabbit ("Brother Rabbit") is a trickster character from African American folk culture. (Bugs Bunny is also a trickster, though I wouldn't take that comparison too far.)
Uncle Remus is a fictional storyteller, created by the white newspaperman Joel Chandler Harris, whose whimsical narrations of "life on the plantation" exposed wide audiences to folk culture and folk wisdom, but at the same time helped perpetuate certain romanticized notions of life in the deep south.
I am asking you to read
You can find analyses for each of these stories on this project page at the University of Virginia. (It appears to be an old student project.)
Today's Topic: Discuss The John Henry Legend
- Wikipedia on John Henry
NPR's coverage: Present at the Creation
On the above page, click on the audio icons to hear a news story and a recording of the ballad song, as well as the lyrics to one particular recording.
On the above site, choose two versions of the song, and come to class with a one-paragraph statement that characterizes the textual differences between your chosen texts.
In what ways is the John Henry story a tall-tale? How is it social commentary? Is it primarily a story about technology, or about race? Is it too simplistic to say "both"?