Coralynn Davis “Talking Tools, Suffering Servants and Defecating Men: The Power of Storytelling and Subaltern Registers in Maithil Women’s Tales” October 25, 2007


What can we learn about the functions of folk storytelling by examining the telling of stories by characters within such tales?  I examine Maithil women’s folktales in which stories of women’s suffering at the hands of other women are first suppressed and later overheard by men who have the power to alleviate such suffering.  Maithil women are pitted against one another in their pursuit of security and resources in the context of patrilineal formations.  The solidarities such women nonetheless form – in part through sharing stories together and keeping each other’s secrets – serve to mitigate their suffering and maintain counter-system ideational patterns and practices.


Coralynn Davis


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