Heads & Tales 2021: HUM 243


The Tale of Nimsay
The Hungry Man and Squirrel
A Tale of Just Desserts
Earthly Tallies
The Ocean and the Cliffside
Amanita and Sunti
Philipan Stag and the Hunter
Between Two Kingdoms
Globe Light
The Dawn of our Sun
The Secret of Silencing
The Tale of Clyfar and Graddfa Tan
Three Hairs
Serenade for the Little Butterfly
The Demon’s Trials


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The Fairy Godchildren of HUM 243 -- Summer 2021

One key thing about the story is that I wanted Nimsay to have a character arc in which she becomes a better person, but also make the sisters have some fault. Making them be the ones to push her into the river, in a way is pushing her into changing her actions, but that couldn’t go without consequences of their own. Adisa Radoncic, author of The Tale of Nimsay

The squirrel’s name is of significance as Avarus or Avari means greedy or stingy in Latin. Taking after his name, Avari becomes greedy and stingy as he steals bites off the carrot to steal the bunker of food without sharing with the man. Additionally, the food that he steals from the village is carrots. Carrots represent prosperity as well as family joys to signify the squirrel's hope in becoming less starved. As he eats more carrots, the family aspect of the meaning of carrots diminishes. Carrots are also known to improve eyesight after consuming them often. This is shown in the idea that the squirrel gained sight to the resentment he felt towards the man. In the domestication scene, the squirrel is shown to be repeatedly sitting on the man’s shoulder. This idea is the “responsibility falls on his shoulders” or to be on one’s shoulder which are idioms meaning to monitor someone closely. This was to further show the dynamic between the man and the squirrel’s relationship.  Chrisanna Chen, author of The Hungry Man and Squirrel

Creating The Department and its bogus backstory allowed me to control the system of oppression for once instead of being another cog in it. World- building in general was a wonderful solution which replaced having to confront imposter syndrome head on as it provided a magical space where it was safe to experiment. Like many art projects, the finished product turned out differently from the proposal. Unlike many art projects, this finished tale actually turned out better than the original description. Most importantly, I fooled myself with the bluff and enjoyed the process. The story, however, is not complete as it just shows a part of the journey. To me it feels more like a prologue to taking this class and learning more about life, whereas the real tale with the bittersweet ending was lived out over these past few weeks. I’m sure Polkadedot is still somewhere out there figuring out how to handle new stressors, because in real life we never move on from troubles. We move forward with them.  Hannah Wu, author of Polkadedot

The story was no longer supposed to be about me — it is so much bigger than me. The story is about a whole community of people.  Lazaros Xonophontos, author of Philipan Stag and the Hunger

My initial narrative had been constructed using sketches rather than writing. Because of this, the characters had actually been unnamed until the fairy tale was written for this class. Visual mediums, as opposed to written ones, allowed me to rely more heavily on emotions being displayed or inferred using facial expressions rather than dialogue or description, with the initial animation plan only having two lines of dialogue. Dialogue and internal thought were a bit difficult to work out in writing as the faces and strong visual cues were no longer present and so needed to be replaced.
    There is a love of both life and innovation in the combination of nature and technology. I would also like to continue this story of Anamita and Sunti’s quest to bring their realization on nature and technology to other people (robots, nature spirits, and humans) and eventually change the structure of the city itself in a future project outside of the class.  Madelin Almonte, author of Amanita and Sunti

I wanted to create a story that was inspired by my own experiences grappling with my identity. I was inspired by the experience of my parents doing their ancestry tests. Being biracial, my background is one of many histories. I made a bet with my father that there was no such thing as purity anymore, and that there would be some type of mixing in his lineage. When the results came back they showed that he was in fact right and his ancestry was one hundred percent African. This discovery, my previous assumptions about our history and my desire for my father to be wrong was what I wanted to use this story to explore.  Maya Dixon, author of Three Hairs

Creative writing and storytelling seem easy on the surface because you are writing what you want to write with ideas that you can make up, but it is much more difficult than that. When I finally thought about books I loved, it dawned on me that it takes a tremendous amount of skill and patience to create imaginary worlds and to give personalities to characters that aren’t even real. To add to that, many authors include symbolism and hidden messages in their stories that they incorporate in a mysterious way, which forces the reader to look deeper into it. To me, this was something that I loved to observe, but not anything that I could do well because I thought I did not have the patience to meticulously plan a story and the ability to carefully include hidden messages.
    Through editing other fairy tales, I was able to learn how to give constructive criticism. I often highlighted the parts of the story I loved and offered suggestions to the authors in other parts that seemed confusing or where there was a grammatical error. I feel as though I was slightly nervous when I gave them, but after meeting with the people whose stories I edited, I realized how much my comments helped them. More importantly, we realized together that we had similar issues often with not being descriptive enough. I found that I helped the authors figure out how to add details without sounding redundant or wordy. Through this, I immediately started getting ideas for how to improve my own story by adding more descriptions and changing up certain parts to make it more mysterious and thought-provoking. Jillian Frost, author of Between Two Kingdoms

The story I eventually wrote is in reference to a poem I had written about ants. I decided it would be better to write blindly and see where the initial idea took me while trying to use a more narrative tone. It was a while before I found the exact story line I would eventually land on but it was, overall, a much more enjoyable and creative experience letting myself work without an outline. I found that the way I usually write creatively for myself has some very effective and positive attributes in writing a fairy tale. For example I use very visual language and within a narrative this creates a strong mood for the story and helps the reader imagine the environment more specifically. Similarly writing in stanzas allowed for the sound of the story to reference a more mystical style of narrative. — Patricia Suslo, author of Home

The story of HUM 243 - The Fairy Tale begins with two readings and one paragraph of ideas due on the day of our first class. The two readings inspired me a lot. At first, when I think about fairy tales, there must be some magic involved. However, in these two readings, there are only normal people involved; there’s no magic or fairy in the story. This makes me want to write a fairy tale that doesn’t have any magic - perhaps just some abnormal creatures in the story to make it fun. The first idea that comes to my mind is a nightmare that I often had when I was small. In these dreams, I became a mermaid and got trapped inside a huge water tank. All the stories I read before were stories about mermaids wanting to become human. It must be very interesting to write something about a human girl who got transformed into a mermaid and is trying to find her way back. — Ruxi (Sophia) Xu, author of Cycle

Living in Manhattan and working in Brooklyn had its dangers too. Shortly after I started the class, I was followed and pelted with oranges by a man that claimed to be “giving free oranges to pretty Asian ladies.” Luckily, he was a terrible shot, and I had a friend that I could call quickly. Looking back at the situation, I wonder if I would have had my very own Little Red moment had I been younger and more naive. It deeply disturbed me to think about men way back then, writing fantasies about raping and taking advantage of women. Even King Pig had underlying meanings to it that I didn’t expect...sure, a Prince hides in pig’s clothing, but why on Earth would that make it a girl’s problem? Why is every story a description of a girl taking the hit or consequences of a male’s actions?
    Thinking about my oranges experience early on in the class made me think about my past relationship with a boyfriend that was pretty awful. I decided to write about him before we even read about King Pig, or Sleeping Beauty. By the time we got to the more nitty-gritty (read: surprisingly terrifying) stories though, I knew my direction of my tale would change. Instead of an explicit, “he was awful to her and then he dies” story, I decided to take the more laid-back route. It was a big change away from a girl running away, falling in love, and then killing her ex-boyfriend. The decision to be vague, to change the cadence of the story, to alter how quickly things progress (bringing the total action time of the story down to just a few minutes, really) gave the story a mysterious air. — Shirley Yan, author of The Secret of Silencing

I would consider Serenade a complication of my personal philosophy, experiences, and passions. The city of Finleid is my commentary on modern society; a rather nihilistic view of things, I must admit. Finleid, appropriately translated as “last song,” is home to the automata. The human beings living there have lost contact with their reality due to the advances in technology. They have little presence in the story, and one can even say that they were overshadowed by the automata. The automata, in the story, are little different from humans from the way they interact with each other and with the world. How long will it take the artificial to overshadow the human in our society, I wonder? The layout of the city, with nine districts arranged in rings around a central tower, is a not-so subtle nod to Dante’s Inferno. Finleid is a metaphor for Hell. The setting is inspired by two beloved works: Dante’s Inferno and David Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas. Finally, the smog is inspired by my trip back to Guangdong, China, in 2016. A child’s memory is rose-tinted. From my memory, my hometown is under a beautiful blue sky. Currently, a combination of climate and pollution blots it out. It was more suffocating in the big city of Shanghai, where, as described in Serenade : “one [can’t] see further than two buildings.” — Xin Yin (Cindy) Fan, author of Serenade for the Little Butterfly

Honestly speaking, writing “Earthly Tallies” was difficult, since many elements of the story were directly derived from my experiences within religion. There were days when I would experience waves of guilt for daring to write a piece that so openly encourages readers to reject a construct that operated as the absolute truth for the most of my life. On top of that, I was afraid of antagonizing certain characters in the tale that represented members of my family, whom I love and cherish dearly despite our quarrels and differences. However, the fictitious nature of the fairytale helped me detach the characters and simply use them as vessels that carry the plot and the moral of the tale.
    I wrote this tale for myself and others like myself who have been fatigued, gaslighted, and injured by institutions that preach the absolute truth. My sincere wish is for us to find solace and love within ourselves and to embrace the beautiful uncertainties and imperfections that life holds, and to be free to exist in the world as we are, unconditionally. — Yeji Kim, author of Earthly Tallies