Vladimir Propp was born on April 17, 1895 in St. Petersburg to a German family. He attended St. Petersburg University (1913–1918) majoring in Russian and German philology. Upon graduation he taught Russian and German at a secondary school and then became a college teacher of German.
His Morphology of the Folktale was published in Russian in 1928. Although it represented a breakthrough in both folkloristics and morphology and influenced Claude Lévi-Strauss and Roland Barthes, it was generally unnoticed in the West until it was translated in 1958. His character types are used in media education and can be applied to almost any story, be it in literature, theatre, film, television series, games, etc.
In 1932, Propp became a member of Leningrad University (formerly St. Petersburg University) faculty. After 1938, he shifted the focus of his research from linguistics to folklore. He chaired the Department of Folklore until it became part of the Department of Russian Literature. Propp remained a faculty member until his death in 1970.
Vladimir Propp broke up fairy tales into sections. Through these sections he was able to define the tale into a series of sequences that occurred within the Russian fairytale. Usually there is an initial situation, after which the tale usually takes the following 31 functions. Vladimir Propp used this method to decipher Russian folklore and fairy tales. First of all, there seem to be at least two distinct types of structural analysis in folklore. One is the type of which Propp's Morphology is the exemplar par excellence. In this type, the structure or formal organization of a folkloristic text is described following the chronological order of the linear sequence of elements in the text as reported from an informant. Thus if a tale consists of elements A to Z, the structure of the tale is delineated in terms of this same sequence. Following Lévi-Strauss (1964: 312), this linear sequential structural analysis we might term "syntagmatic" structural analysis, borrowing from the notion of syntax in the study of language (cf. Greimas 1966a:404). The other type of structural analysis in folklore seeks to describe the pattern (usually based upon an a priori binary principle of opposition) which allegedly underlies the folkloristic text. This pattern is not the same as the sequential structure at all. Rather the elements are taken out of the "given" order and are regrouped in one or more analytic schemas. Patterns or organization in this second type of structural analysis might be termed "paradigmatic" (cf. Sebag 1963:75), borrowing from the notion of paradigms in the study of language.
Respectively equivalent to syntagmatic and paradigmatic are the terms "diachronic" and "synchronic." Diachronic is the analysis that gives the reader a sense of "going through" the highs and lows of a story, much like the pattern of a sine wave. The second term, synchronic, is where the story is taken in all at one time, like in the pattern of a circle. Most literary analyses are synchronic, offering a greater sense of unity among the components of a story. Although both structural analyses convey partial information about the story, each angle of analysis delivers a different set of information.
Maria Tatar is the John L. Loeb Professor of Germanic Languages and Literatures. She chairs the Program in Folklore and Mythology at Harvard University. She is the author of Enchanted Hunters: The Power of Stories in Childhood, Off with Their Heads! Fairy Tales and the Culture of Childhood and many other books on folklore and fairy stories. She is also the editor and translator of The Annotated Hans Christian Andersen, The Annotated Brothers Grimm, The Annotated Classic Fairy Tales, The Annotated Peter Pan, The Classic Fairy Tales: A Norton Critical Edition and The Grimm Reader. She lives in Cambridge,
Bruno Bettelheim was born in Vienna on August 28, 1903, and died on March 13, 1990, in Silver Spring, Maryland.
The son of a wood merchant from the assimilated Jewish middle class, Bettelheim had to give up his studies when his father died of syphilis. He was twenty-three and remained scarred by his father's "shameful" death. He returned to his studies in philosophy ten years later and in February 1938 was one of the last Jews to earn a doctorate at the University of Vienna before the Anschluss. His thesis was entitled "The Problem of Beauty in Nature and Modern Esthetics" and was supervised by the famed Karl Bühler, director of the Institute of Psychology and a pioneer of Sprachtheorie (theory of language).
In 1930 Bettelheim had married a schoolteacher who was a disciple of Anna Freud, but he was unhappy. He saw reflected in his wife's eyes the ugliness that had obsessed him since he first saw it in his mother's eyes. In 1936 he entered analysis with Richard Sterba, then secretary of the Vienna Society and the only non-Jew on its Committee. At the time of the Anschluss, Sterba abruptly abandoned all his patients, preferring exile to the risk of being called upon by the Nazis to rid the society of Jews.
When Bettelheim was arrested by the Gestapo on May 29, 1938, he was thus in the midst of his analysis. The ten and a half months he spent in Dachau, and later in Buchenwald, had a decisive influence on him. To escape madness, he studied the effects of the camps on the other prisoners, the prison guards, and himself. Whenever he could, he shared his observations with Paul Federn's son Ernst.
Bettelheim was liberated on April 14, 1939, and arrived in the United States three weeks later. He had lost everything. His wife left him. His first job was to devise a test for evaluating knowledge in the plastic arts that is still in use today. Between 1941 and 1944 he taught art history, German literature, and psychology. Above all, he sought to publish the article on the concentration camps that he had been working on since his release.
Rejected several times on the grounds that it was nonobjective or "anti-German," the article finally appeared in October 1943 in the journal of the Harvard psychology laboratory. "Individual and Mass Behavior in Extreme Situations" is a study of the deportees that makes particular use of Anna Freud's concept of "identification with the aggressor." In 1945, General Eisenhower had the article distributed to American officers in Europe, who were ill-prepared for the opening of the concentration camps.
In 1960 Bettelheim returned to this text in The Informed Heart: Autonomy in a Mass Age, the first book in which he made a connection between his experiences in the camps and the Freudian-inspired "milieu therapy" he established at the University of Chicago's Orthogenic School, of which he became director in 1944. This connection can be summarized as follows: Having witnessed mentally sound people go insane because of the effects of the camps, Bettelheim attempted to remedy the problems of severely disturbed children by creating an environment that was totally responsive to their needs and symptoms. This approach remained Bettelheim's trademark and established the reputation of his school worldwide.
In 1973 Bettelheim retired to California. He conducted seminars, supervised therapists in training, wrote, and was a sought-after lecturer. In 1984, the death of his second wife, who was also from Vienna and had borne him three children, plunged him into a deep depression that he struggled against for another six years, pursuing his activities despite health problems. After the publication of Freud 's Vienna and Other Essays in January 1990, he moved to a retirement home near Washington, D.C. Two months later, he committed suicide by ingesting barbiturates and, to ensure that he would not be "saved," putting a plastic bag over his head. Fifty-two years earlier, on the same night, the Nazis had entered Austria to the cheers of a crowd shouting "Death to the Jews."
Bettelheim was a good storyteller and popularizer of Freud's ideas, and his books sold very successfully. He recounted his clinical experience in three books about the Orthogenic School, Love Is Not Enough: A Treatment of Emotionally Disturbed Children (1950), Truants from Life (1955), and A Home for the Heart (1974), and in The Empty Fortress(1967), which studies three cases of autism. With regard to theory, he was a maverick. He initially conceived of his school as "putting Freud's concepts into action." He then distanced himself from Freud to flirt with culturalism in Symbolic Wounds: Puberty Rites and the Envious Male (1954). After moving closer to the ego psychology that predominated at the Chicago Institute headed by Franz Alexander (The Informed Heart), he returned to Freud by way of the self-psychology advocated by his friend Heinz Kohut (The Empty Fortress), and he ended up writing a long polemical essay denouncing the ways in which Freud had been betrayed by his English translator, James Strachey (Freud and Man's Soul, 1983). A careful reading of Surviving and Other Essays (1979), a collection of Bettelheim's writings on Nazism, gives a glimpse of the painful self-analysis by which he continued, first in the camps and then for the rest of his life, the work that had been interrupted by the Anschluss.
The Uses of Enchantment: The Meaning and Importance of Fairy Tales (1976), a study of the role of fairy tales on the development of the unconscious, is Bettelheim's best-selling book. He also wrote a book on education in the kibbutzim, The Children of the Dream (1969), and many other works on children's education (Dialogues with Mothers, 1962;A Good Enough Parent, 1987; and numerous articles).
Bettelheim's suicide was immediately followed by a furious scandal, with former patients and students denouncing him as a liar, a brute, and a despot who was all the more hypocritical because he had preached respect for children. Beyond what it reveals about the confusion ensuing from the suicide of such a man, this scandal is interesting because it goes to the heart of Bettelheim's clinical genius: an almost infallible intuition about what causes a child to suffer and the ability to confront his patient's most destructive impulses. He often compared his role to that of a lightning rod, attracting lightning and thus proving that it had not killed anyone—not even him.
Too often catalogued as a specialist in autism, Bettelheim was above all a master teacher who continually succeeded in getting the therapists under his supervision and the educators in his school to recognize the part of themselves that was put at risk by their patients' madness. That said, his depictions of the most disturbed students in his school, including some autistic patients, were so vivid, so focused on what these children were doing—and not on their deficiencies, as was common practice—that his work had a decisive influence on the way young psychotic patients are treated in psychiatric hospitals around the world.
Bettelheim, Bruno. (1960). The informed heart: Autonomy in a mass age. New York: Alfred A. Knopf.
——. (1990). Freud's Vienna and other essays. New York: Alfred A. Knopf.
Bettelheim, Bruno, and Karlin, Daniel. (1975). Un autre regard sur la folie. Paris: Stock.
Jurgenson, Geneviève. (1973). La Folie des autres. Paris: Robert Laffont.
Pollak, Richard. (1997). The creation of Dr. B.: A biography of Bruno Bettelheim. New York: Simon and Schuster.
Raines, Theron. (2002). Rising to the light: A portrait of Bruno Bettelheim. New York: Alfred A. Knopf.
Sutton, Nina. (1995). Bruno Bettelheim: The other side of madness (David Sharp, Trans.). London: Duckworth.
Kieran Egan (born 1942) is a contemporary educational philosopher and a student of the classics, anthropology, cognitive psychology, and cultural history. He has written on issues in education and child development, with an emphasis on the uses of imagination and the intellectual stages (Egan calls them understandings) that occur during a person’s intellectual development. He has questioned the work of Jean Piaget and progressiveeducators, notably Herbert Spencer and John Dewey.
Egan was born in 1942 in Clonmel Ireland, though; he was raised and educated in England. He graduated from the University of London with a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1966. He subsequently worked as a research fellow at the Institute for Comparative Studies in Kingston upon Thames. He then moved to the United States and began a Ph.D in the philosophy of education at theStanford University School of Education. Egan completed his Ph.D at Cornell University in 1972.