A Festschrift for Wolfgang Mieder’s 75th Birthday
Edited By Andreas Nolte and Dennis Mahoney
This Festschrift for Wolfgang Mieder, preeminent paremiologist and folklorist, combines personal tributes and scholarly papers by colleagues, friends, and former students – presented in three categories that address his roles as a mentor, scholar, and world citizen over many decades.
The central scholarly section likewise consists of three parts. The papers dealing with proverbs examine them as patterns, stereotypes, rhetorical devices, media for self-enchantment, and means of allusion in works by Tolstoy, Solzhenitsyn, Chukovskaya, and Kempowski. A second group deals with fairy-tale motifs in literary works by Lehmann, Rabinowich, and Hummel. A third section includes topics ranging from James Bond to Stephen King, from runaway slaves to the Holocaust, and literature as cultural ecology.
“Long Hair, Little Sense”
Revisiting the Proverbial Stereotype
Abstract: Although the proverb “Long hair, little sense” appears gender-neutral, it is inherently misogynist. By focusing on the medieval and early-modern versions of the saying, the essay offers an initial cross-cultural and cross-temporal exploration of the topic, uncovering a change in meaning and the degree of misogyny that has taken place over time.
“Long hair, little wit/sense.” What image comes to mind when one hears this expression? A long-haired teenager, similar to the careless young protagonist of Kid Rock’s country song, who spends all of his days, “caught somewhere between a boy and a man,” doing nothing of substance but laughing, experimenting with alcohol and drugs, and making love to his seventeen-year-old girlfriend?1 Or a disheveled beatnik who rejects the mores of conventional society, like the French singer Antoine, the target of Johnny Hallyday’s 1966 musical attack in “Cheveux longs et idées courtes”?2 Gender does not seem to be an issue in either of these two songs: the former is an elegiac ballad about bygone youth, first passion, and “the simple things in life” (Rock); the latter is a personal and artistic revanche, a scathing critique of inaction and self-righteous pacifism (Hallyday/Thibaut).3 And yet, the proverb they allude to plays a crucial role in how gender is constructed in both: Kid Rock’s country idyll idealizes the last carefree days of adolescence and thus implicitly contrasts them to mature manhood; Hallyday’s ridicule of his opponent’s limited view...
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