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Group 10 Silver

Page history last edited by Megan Moore 7 years ago

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Group Presentation



Each group will give a 10-15 minute presentation on one of the assigned critical readings. The presentation should:

  1. Identify the thesis and central claims in the article/chapter. 
  2. Give an example of the way the author supports these claims.
  3. Evaluate the argument. Is it strong? Does it use strong evidence? How does it relate with other scholarship we have read in this class?
  4. Post the material for the presentation on the class wiki.
  5. Sign up for group BELOW by putting name and WSU email on group page. Limit: 3 people per group. 



Megan Moore eg9056@wayne.edu

Marie Deschuytter er7192@wayne.edu 

Katherine Nelson


-feminist lens

-different from other fairy tales so far

-women's rights in marriages


-women's power and sexuality

-swan maidens/fairy brides

-contradicted Victorian views at that time


Thesis: Carole Silver used a feminist lens with the story of the Swan Maidens to express issues women of that time dealt with: marriages, divorce, power, and sexuality.


Second Thesis:  


“by diminishing the claims to superiority of the fairy bride, neutralizing her sexuality, and limiting or denying her right to divorce, Victorian folklorists rendered her acceptable to themselves and their society.” - (Silver, 291)


The name 'fairy bride' comes from a relatively unknown fairy tale, since it was very different from other fairy tales.

- A clan of very powerful free women live together. They were also referred to as Swan maiden since they have a swan skin they can take off when they go bath. However, when captured by a man (loss of their swan skin) they have to live a different life and get married. Then they become 'fairy brides'. They still kept their powers and their rights, even in marriage. The man is 'inferior'. 

     - Swan maiden -> fairy brides

     - Western Europe

     - 'pioneering' view on women (feminist -> powerful, rights,...)

=> Even though men do have power and play an important role (They are able to capture the swan maiden and have a certain amount of power over them: Force them into marriage), the fairy brides are not completely powerless (opposite of the more classic fairy tale). They have rights and even power over their husband.


The scholarship is written by a female, Carole Silver, what might also explain the feminist view on the topic.


Victorian folklorists were fascinated with the fairy brides/Swan Maidens and their marriages.

-During that time the Married Women’s Property Act came about. This gave married women the right to own and control their own property.

-Fairy brides had power in their marriages and had the right to leave their husbands and divorce them.

-“Although Swan Maiden tales offered other and new perspectives on the questions of marriage, they did present some of the same issues that were plaguing those who read them: the imbalance of power between the sexes, the nature of female sexuality, and the right of females to leave their mates and children.” (Silver 284)

The interest of Victorian England in fairy brides as opposed to other fairy stories stems from their interest in:

1) divorce

2) superiority

3) sexuality


They downplayed, outright ignored, or made jokes of the ability of women to form autonomous family / community structures, or martial "amazonian" societies without men that are reflected in fairy stories.

In the historical context supported by the Victorians, the role of the superior woman was always related to their roles in a marriage - their relationship to children, how many people were in the marriage, whether "marriage by capture" was happening, and whether families were matrilineal.


In divorce, women were seen as alien, fickle and aloof, regardless of their relationship to the child and whether they took children along with them.


The sexual woman was seen as barbaric or animalistic, unless she was procreating with dark - skinned people on behalf of the "tall, slender, pale, blonde" race, as discussed by Stuart - Glennie (1891).  The Victorian folklorists supported the idea that fairy women were actually their ancestors, giving female sexuality less credibility in the modern, "enlightened" age.  It could exist as a non - threatening relic of the past.



To answer questions 2 and 3:

1)      This article upholds the idea that “bride” stories inherently subvert the women’s power and female bonds (as do other articles we have read for class); however, it is the first article that addresses a folklore root to the story where women are powerful clan leaders.

2)      the stories address women’s sexuality so overtly that Victorian folklorists and historians came up with a timeline around the structure of marriage, procreation, and the role of the powerful woman in the family.

3)      The author draws on of historical sources, uses the work of well – known Victorian folklorists, and includes examples of classical literature that echo the fairy brides story in order legitimize her argument.


-Fairy bride stories included female superiority, which was seen as sign of being barbaric and  savage or even primitive.

-Idea of female superiority was thought to be based off of an ancient society-argued that these societies with powerful women did not last.



Group 10 PowerPoint

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