Saturday, August 17, 2019

Week 2: Topic Brainstorming about Brer Rabbit

So I already know that I want to do some kind of project about Brer Rabbit stories, but even that is pretty vast: there are 123 rabbit stories in the books by Joel Chandler Harris, plus I've got 240 more rabbit stories in African American sources beyond the Harris books. That's actually the first time I've done a Diigo search on the non-Harris rabbits: wow! I knew there were a lot, but I had no idea I had collected that many.

The obvious question then is how to narrow that down? There are lots of different threads and themes that would be possible, so for this assignment, here are the FOUR possible topics that I am going to think about before making my choice for next week's project assignment:

1. Cruel Brer Rabbit. One of the distinctive traits of trickster characters is that they can be cruel. Outrageously cruel. In order to counteract the zip-a-dee-doo-dah Disney version of Brer Rabbit, I could create a Storybook of stories where Brer Rabbit is really cruel. One of my favorites like that is Grinny Granny Wolf, where he kills granny wolf and serves her up as a stew that Brer Wolf eats for supper.

2. Brer Rabbit and Mammy-Bammy Big-Money. This is the topic I think I like best because Mammy-Bammy is such a great female presence in a world of mostly male tricksters. Plus that would be an excuse to tell the Taily-Po story, which is one of my favorites.  The other witch-rabbit stories are: Brer Wolf and the Witch-RabbitBrer Rabbit and the Witch-Rabbit, and The Lucky Rabbit's Foot.

3. Brer Rabbit Beyond Harris. This would actually be really fun too: I could find four really good Brer Rabbit stories that are NOT found in Harris. I could maybe even just zoom in on Gullah stories, using the Jones collection. Here are the rabbit stories Jones collected. Or I could seek out four different sources; that actually might be the best approach for this topic: four rabbit stories not in Harris from four different sources.

4. Gullah Brer Rabbit. Kind of like the previous topic, but I would pick out two of the Gullah stories in Harris (and the Gullah stories in Harris are some of my favorites, like Brer Gator in Trouble), and then find two more Rabbit stories from other Gullah sources to use.

Argh, these all sounds so good. And I can only do one. I think I'm torn between the Witch-Rabbit and Gullah Brer Rabbit right now... but I don't have to decide for a while thank goodness.

If you want to vote, here's a ballot: