The Tar Baby and the Tomahawk: Race and Ethnic Images in American Children's Literature, 1880-1939

    Further Reading on American Folklore

  • Baer, Florence E. “Joel Chandler Harris: An ‘Accidental’ Folklorist.” Critical Essays on Joel Chandler Harris. Ed. Bruce R. Bickley. Boston, Mass: G.K. Hall, 1981. 185-195. Print.

    Baer argues that the twentieth century’s dismissal of Harris’s contributions to folklorist studies due to his use of amateur methods that sacrificed accuracy for literary ambition is a misrepresentation of Harris’s work. Baer contends that Harris was dedicated to the academic study of folklore and that his approach to collecting folktales would now be recognized as a legitimate collecting method.

  • Brookes, Stella B. Joel Chandler Harris: Folklorist. Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1950. Print.

    This dated study of Harris’s work considers the environment and literary influences surrounding the writing and publication of the Uncle Remus books. Brookes also analyzes the folklore of the stories themselves.

  • Clements, William M, David Stanley, and Marta Weigle. 100 Years of American Folklore Studies: A Conceptual History. Washington, D.C: American Folklore Society, 1988. Internet resource.

    Published by the American Folklore Society, this history of folklore traces the theories and methodical assumptions of folklorists over the preceding 100 years of study in America. The short essays which comprise the history provide a good overview of the terms and concepts significant to folklorist studies.

  • Dorson, Richard M. Handbook of American Folklore. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1983. Print.

    This wide-ranging handbook provides brief essays on a variety of topics of research in American folklore (from American Indian folklore to Afro-American folk music, myths of American culture such as the rags to riches stories and representations of the “noble savage,” in addition to regional and religious-based folklore of the country). It also discusses folklore as a discipline and includes sections discussing interpretation, methodology, and the presentation of research.

  • Dundes, Alan. Mother Wit from the Laughing Barrel: Readings in the Interpretation of Afro-American Folklore. Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 1990. Print.

    Dundes’s collection of essays offers readers significant pieces of research on African American folklore by important African American scholars including Zora Neale Hurston, Sterling A. Brown, Langston Hughes, and Charles W. Chesnutt. The essays are grouped by overarching topic, and included are sections devoted to discussion of origins, dialects and language, and humor.

  • Keenan, Hugh T. “Joel Chandler Harris and the Legitimacy of the Reteller of Folktales.” Sitting at the Feet of the Past: Retelling the North American Folktale for Children. Ed. Gary D. Schmidt and Donald R. Hettinga. Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press, 1992. 81-91. Print.

    Keenan establishes the legitimacy of the Uncle Remus tales (most of which have verifiable African or African-American sources) and of the Uncle Remus storyteller (a traditional griot figure). The article defends Harris as a legitimate reteller of the stories on the basis of Harris’s sensitivity to the materials, his knowledge of the folklore scholarship of the nineteenth century, and the skill with which the stories are shared.

  • Mullen, Patrick B. The Man Who Adores the Negro: Race and American Folklore. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2008. Print.

    Making only passing reference to Joel Chandler Harris (dismissing his work as a sentimental of representation of plantation slavery), this book nonetheless acknowledges the instrumental, if problematic, role Harris had in establishing how African American folklore was represented in future folklorist study. Mullen focuses on the work of four white twentieth century folklorists, and discusses how racial identity and preconceived notions about race shape how folklorists respond to and represent their subjects.

  • Plant, Deborah G. Zora Neale Hurston: A Biography of the Spirit. Women writers of color. Westport, Conn: Praeger Publishers, 2007. Print.

    Plant’s biography of Hurston focuses on spirituality as the source of Hurston’s thought, philosophy, and politics. The biography provides useful context for the significance of Hurston’s folklorist work, especially of Mules and Men, and discusses Hurston as an important American folklorist who provided a much-needed alternative perspective to African American folklore.