The Thirty-One Functions in Vladimir Propp’s Morphology of the Folktale: An Outline and Recent Trends in the Applicability of the Proppian Taxonomic Model

Sapna Dogra

Ph.D (Jawaharlal Nehru University). ORCID ID: 0000-0003-2397-1582. Email:

 Volume 9, Number 2, 2017 I Full Text PDF

DOI: 10.21659/rupkatha.v9n2.41


Vladimir Propp (1895–1970) was a Russian folklorist who analysed the basic plot components of selected Russian fairy tales in order to identify their simplest irreducible narrative elements. His Morphology of the Folktale was published in Russian in 1928. It was only after thirty-years that most European and American scholars read it in English translation in 1958. It not only represented a breakthrough in both folkloristics and morphology by influencing folklorists, linguists, anthropologists, and literary critics, but also his analysis was applied to all types of narratives be it folklore, literature, film, television series, theatre, games, mimes, cartoon strips, advertisements, dance forms, sports commentaries, film theory, news reports, story generation and interactive drama systems etc. Many attempts at structural analyses of various folklore genres have been made throughout the world since its appearance in English translation. In this paper we look at Morphology of the Folktale, by outlining the thirty-one functions that he proposed for the structural analysis of folktales and recent trends in the applicability of Proppian taxonomic model. It is also emphasised that Propp’s taxonomic model disregards and excludes the reader and is unable to look beyond the surface structure thereby missing upon essential historical and contextual features.

Keywords: Folktales, functions, designation, symbol, morphology, fairy tales, folkloristics, structuralism.

The Poetic Interpretation of Binary Opposition in the Structure of Myth

Z. A. Aimukhambet1, A. Abdilmanatkyzy2, K. Baitanasova3, A. Seiputanova4, K. Kurmambayeva5

1, 2, 3 L.N. Gumilyov Eurasian National University, Kazakhstan, Astana, Almaty district, K.Munaytpasov street 5.

4Sarsen Amanzholov East State University, Kazakhstan, East Kazakhstan region, Ust-Kamenogorsk, 34 Tridtsatoy Gvardeiskoy Divizii street.

5Semey State University named after Shakarim, Kazakhstan, Semey, 20a Glinka street.

Volume 9, Number 1, 2017 I Full Text PDF

DOI: 10.21659/rupkatha.v9n1.03

Received February 23, 2017; Revised April 24, 2017; Accepted April 30, 2017; Published May 7, 2017.


The article deals with the poetic nature of binary opposition in the mythology of literature. The structural method played an important role in revealing the nature of binary opposition in the structure of myth. The introduction of the article includes the theoretical significance of this method and the fact that the oppositional character of mythical worldview was the basis of dialectical development. The mythological motives and personages characterize the development of life, forming an opposition pair. The examples on the fact that oppositional pairs of mythical motives and characters constitute binary-dyadic integrity by complementing each other are represented. The controversial double forms of the dyad in mythical knowledge towards the paired phenomena and concepts is analyzed with mythical narration and concluded on the basis of scientists-mythologists’ conclusions. The nature of phenomena and concepts between the dyad Chaos-Space and the opposition life-death are regarded in literary aspect and in the framework of the cultural-historical analysis. The idea about the important role of the mythical “binary-dyadic” structure in presenting the conflictive nature of a man in the world and national literature has been formulated. Interpretation of mythological thinking in poetics is given through motive, struggle and artistic images. Interpretation of binary opposition in poetic knowledge in the structure of myth is analyzed with references to some literary works.

Keywords: myth, binary opposition, structuralism, dyadic structure, chaos, space, good, evil, antithesis, Anima, Animus, oxymoron, antonym, protagonist, antagonist, historical consciousness, artistic knowledge, poetics.

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“Last Seen Alive”: Lacan, Louise Bell and I in a Haunted House

Fiona Sprott, Flinders University, Australia

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Nobody notices me. That’s kind of normal. Nobody really noticed Ellen either until she was gone.

In 1983 a young girl called Louise Bell mysteriously disappeared from her bedroom in an outer-lying suburb of Adelaide. This story became part of the tapestry of fragmentary memories of my own girlhood. I used Lacan’s Borromean knot model of the psyche as a tool to guide my creative research and ideas towards a contemporary performance text titled Last Seen Alive which strives to translate newspaper accounts, and personal memories of the story into a fictional text. What is the symbolic order of the story of a girl who mysteriously disappears from her bedroom one night? How to conjure the ghosts and monsters of the imaginary which populate the print media stories of Louise Bell’s disappearance? How to represent my encounter with the man currently suspected of murdering Louise? 

Singing Specters: Phenomenology in the Performance of Music

Dan W. Lawrence, Michigan Technological University

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In this article, I write along with key 20th century thinkers—Maurice Merleau-Ponty and Jacques Derrida—to understand how a phenomenological examination of the performance of music can contribute to a meaningful exploration of the roles of consciousness and presence in the process of rhetorical invention. I begin by looking at Plato’s Phaedrus and assess the notion of “fit” as it relates to rhetoric and performance as well as the mythical trope of the cicadas. I will then explore how Plato’s rendering of madness in this piece might help us understand Derrida’s almost paradoxical construction of the voice in Voice and Phenomenon. From here, I move to analyze the figure of the ghost as presented by Derrida and relate this to the non-presence of presence while asking: how might this notion better help us understand how rhetorical decisions are made by performing artists? The argument I put forth is that there is a subtle difference between the aleatoric moments of invention that occur in the process of solitary composition and those that occur on the stage. My conclusion points toward further research that would analyze these elements in recorded music and digital recording technologies which further problematizes the notion of non-presence: what would it really mean to have a ghost in the machine? Do we perform a séance each time we press “play”?

The Semiotics of Violence: Reading Italo Calvino’s The Castle of Crossed Destinies

Debamitra Kar, Women’s College, Calcutta, India

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This paper attempts a reading of Italo Calvino’s novel, The Castle of Crossed Destinies (1969) from a postmodern perspective. The novel has always been seen as structuralist experimentation, particularly because it was written at a time when Calvino was associated with the OULIPO, the group of the French philosophers like Claude Levi-Strauss, Roland Barthes and others. The paper argues that the simultaneous reading of the words in the text and pictures in the margin, challenges the very practice and method of reading. The novel suggests that it can be read as a card game, a game that accentuates deferral and plurality of meaning. These conflicting readings create the semiotics of violence, which again is reflected in the theme of the stories. The paper cites example of three stories which show that the violence of language is codified as the violence of the feminine on the masculine, arguing that the feminine challenges the rules, laws, and structures of language as well as life and destroys things that adheres to any strict binary form. The conflict between the rule of the Father and the lawlessness of the Mother leads to no higher synthesis—it ends in violence that refuses all routes of communication or meaning.

Representation of the ‘National Self’— Novelistic Portrayal of a New Cultural Identity in Gora

Dipankar Roy,Visva-Bharati, India


Any colonial rule involves a systematic and ruthless attack on the culture and heritage of the colonized race. This often results in a total loss or at least maiming of the sense of ‘self’ for the colonized people. The masculinist self of the colonizer labels the self of the colonized as ‘effeminate’. In reaction to this, the nationalist consciousness of the colonized people often tries to replicate the macho virility of the colonial masters in an act of fashioning a ‘nationalist self.’ In the context of Indian colonial history we see development in similar lines. But, the codification of the dominant strand of the nationalist consciousness in overt masculinist terms often have strange reverberations. This paper is about such an act of fashionning selves and its after-effects. To study the issue in the Indian colonial contexts I have chosen Rabindranath Tagore’s novel Gora as a case-study. The conception of this novel’s central character is largely modelled on the issue of an ‘ideal’ national self.  The author, however, by observing the dialogic principle consistently in the text, problematises the dominant ideas connected with the figure of ‘nationalist self’. How he does it will be my main concern in this article. Whether it is possible to arrive at a general tendency of the nature of India’s colonial encounter with the British in relation to the issue of the development of the national character will be dealt with in the concluding section of this essay.