The Sexuality Barrier in Studying Children’s Folklore

Jay Mechling (University of California, Davis, emeritus)

Sutton-Smith’s article, “Psychology of Childlore: The Triviality Barrier” (1970), identified why the study of children’s folklore was a neglected specialty. Fifty-three years later the specialty is thriving, but there remains resistance to psychoanalytic approaches to children’s folklore. A satisfactory interpretation of a particular symbolic act by a child or a collection of children must address the question of motive, the only one of the five elements in Burke’s pentad of act, scene, agent, agency, and purpose that cannot be directly observed. Psychoanalytic theory provides the best body of ideas for linking stages of psychosexual and psychosocial development with symbolic acts.

Part of V1-05 Toward a Theory of Mind in Folkloristics, Wednesday, October 11, 1:00 pm–3:00 pm