Natalie Kononenko teachers folklore and ethnography in the Department of Modern Languages and Cultural Studies, and her interests embrace Slavic folklores in general. Professor Kononenko's current research areas include Ukrainian minstrelsy, ritual and ritual theory, as well as folk tales and legends. Professor Kononenko has constructed a very valuable website dedicated to Ukrainian Traditional Folklore (Ritual, Material, Spiritual, and Verbal Culture), which offers virtual tours of several related topics (http://www.arts.ualberta.ca/uvp/). She is the Kule Chair of Ukrainian Ethnography.
Fall 2012 Interdisciplinary Course Seminar Grants, Cycle One
Cartoon, Politics, and Folklore
Animation, especially animation based on folklore, appears so innocent, so timeless, so universal. But modern scholarship has shown that it is precisely this seeming innocence that allows film studios to use cartoons to project their own messages. Most studies (Zipes, Giroux) have focused on cartoons as vehicles for promoting consumerism. This course will examine cartoons as a means of promoting political messages. We will focus primarily on nationalism, although attention to gender and race will also be part of the course. The course aims to broaden students' cultural awareness by looking at three cultures. Typically the target foreign culture is compared to mainstream North America. We will look at animation in the United States and Canada, but we will compare it not to one culture, but two: France and the Francophone world and the Soviet Union and at least two of its post-Soviet successor states, specifically Russia and Ukraine. By examining how three different world areas use cartoons to convey political messages we will be able to more clearly see how modern media tries to shape world view. Working with cartoons will be an especially effective way to explore media because cartoons are part of the lives of our students. They watch them now and they enjoyed them as children. Thus the course will train students to look at the media with a critical eye.