Beyond Literary Landscapes—Folk Tales

From my early beginnings as a young introvert, the public library has always been a bit of a refuge.  Years later, not much has changed, albeit with an additional affinity for endless hours spent scouring second-hand bookstores to add to my ever-growing “to-read” pile.

From one bookworm to another, this column will be underscoring and outlining various literary genres, authors, and recent reads and can serve as an introduction for those unfamiliar with these works, as a refresher for long-time aficionados, and maybe as an inspiration for readers to share their own suggested topics.  Do you have a topic that you would like covered in this column?  Feel free to contact me for an interview and a feature in an upcoming column.


Following up on last week’s brief overview of fables, folk tales, fairy tales, and everything in-between, this week, we take a closer look specifically at folk tales.

A folk tale can de defined as “a traditional story that people of a particular region or group repeat among themselves.”

Historically, folk tales across various cultures were oral, passed down through storytelling from one generation to the next.  Unlike later written works, folk tales were often anonymous.  In addition, when considering early folk tales, they may be difficult to differentiate from mythology, especially when concerned with “tales of tricksters and heroes, [and] they presuppose a background of belief about tribal origins and the relation of men and gods.”

There is currently no consensus on the exact difference between folk tales and fairy tales, apart from the fact that fairy tales “grew out of folktales once they were written.”


Some notable folk tales include “Bluebeard” from France, “Domingo’s Cat” from Brazil, “Baba Yaga” from across Eastern Europe, “Anansi” from Ghana, and the “Banshee” from Ireland.


These works take place in various countries around the world, including France, Brazil, Ghana, Ireland, and throughout Eastern Europe.


These folk tales occur throughout history.


These works may be of interest to AU students who would like to learn more about different types of folk tales around the world, as well as those who would like to read about the origins of various fairy tales common in modern day.  In addition, many folk tales often offer life lessons, which are still relevant to this day.


AU’s wide range of diverse courses make it easy to study this topic in depth.  Courses related to Folk Tales are available in a variety of disciplines, including one’s that may fit into your Degree Works.  (Always check with an AU counsellor to see if these particular courses fulfill your personal graduation requirements!)

AU students interested in this topic may consider enrolling ANTH 354: Language and Culture, a senior-level, “three-credit course that investigates topics found in the field of linguistic anthropology and linguistics—one of four subfields of anthropology.”  (Please note that while no prerequisites are required for this course, ANTH 275: Faces of Culture: An Introduction to Cultural Anthropology is recommended.)  Happy reading!