Straw into Gold Thread? On a Note by the Brothers Grimm Regarding the Forgotten Industry and Folkloric Representations of Metallic Thread Making

Ann Schmiesing (University of Colorado Boulder)

Although “Rumpelstiltskin” is rightly assumed to relate to the spinning of flax, Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm conclude their published notes to the tale by suggesting that the spinning of gold might also refer to the arduous work of women who produced metallic thread. Drawing on recent scholarship on material culture, this paper examines medieval and early modern texts related to metallic silk thread production to elucidate why the Grimms saw a possible additional reference to gold thread making, and to explore the folkloric and cultural significance that they attached to this reference and probe the interpretive possibilities of their suggestion.

Part of 01-01 Revisiting the Fairy Tale, Thursday, November 02, 8:30 am–10:00 am