Event—Scholarly Seminars

Molly Ferguson, Ball State University


Silence, Shame, and Escape in Contemporary Mermaid and Selkie Stories, Molly Ferguson
Irish writers have been repurposing mermaid and selkie stories in their work consistently in each literary wave and especially during moments of intense social change; their stories have become shorthand for addressing oppressive gender constructs. In this paper I address several recent reinterpretations of mermaid and selkie lore that expand the range of the original tales and revise them as feminist stories. These new versions acknowledge the violence in the folktale origins while also suggesting that the tales are ripe for subversion, revising folklore to change the valence of its messages.

Respondent: Donna Potts, Washington State University