Symbolizing Tradition: On the Scatology of an Ethnic Identity

Simon J. Bronner

in Explaining Traditions

Published by University Press of Kentucky

Published in print January 2012 | ISBN: 9780813134062
Published online January 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780813135885 | DOI:
Symbolizing Tradition: On the Scatology of an Ethnic Identity

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This chapter argues that much of Pennsylvania German folklore is characterized by the theme of feces and anality, especially related to the animal symbol of the chicken. This theme is a cultural strategy of a suppressed group which turns a pejorative slur against the group into a source of pride. Many of the stories involving feces are in the form of trickster tales about a character named Eilesschpigel. The chapter points out that there is a historical source in German cultural traits, but in an American context, the feces symbolism is enacted to refer to the loss of language, land, and identity among members of the ethnic group.

Keywords: Pennsylvania Germans; feces; anality; scatology; psychoanalytic approach; trickster tales; jokes; legends; folk songs; ethnicity; dialect stories; animals and culture

Chapter.  12233 words. 

Subjects: Social and Cultural History

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