Girl in the Chair: Research for Storytellers

First off, the title: It's a Spider-man reference. I use it to refer to a part of my work when I help other storytellers find, research, or track down tales they are interested in. I mostly do this for our storytelling volunteers at the Világszép Foundation, but I also regularly get inquires from storytellers around the world, and I am always happy to help.

So, here is a brand new blog series about research for storytellers.

One more geeky reference


First off, research is the invisible part of a storyteller's work. When people invite us to create a new performance, they rarely ever realize how much work goes into it behind the scenes. By making this work a bit more visible, I hope to garner more appreciation for our art form.

Second, research is the tool we use to avoid ethical issues such as breach of copyright or cultural appropriation. It is important for people to be aware of the differences between folktale and literary story, between public domain and copyrighted material. It is an important topic to explore.

Third, and most importantly: I want to show my work to help other tellers. I use various research tools and methods, and I hope that pointing them out will help others can also learn to use them. Not all of it will be useful for everyone, but that's okay.

So, what is Girl in the Chair, exactly?

It is a blog series (hopefully monthly or bi-monthly, we'll see) where I take on research questions, and I publish the process of answering them in a case study.

Anyone can pose a research question (here in the comments, on Facebook, via email, etc.). I don't promise to answer all of them, but I will pick the ones that seem the most interesting, and try to showcase research methods through them.

Blog posts so far

Sisterhood of the wolf: The hunt for female werewolves


  1. For my research I am looking for the fairy tales with topic of bad mothers (not stepmothers), abusive, narcistic and overprotective mothers. I also look for a fairy takes about man who betrayed woman, and wad punished fir that on the some way (he is alone, or...), such as Croatian fairy tale: The little fairy
    Thanks a lot!

    1. The Uses of Enchantment: The Meaning and Importance of Fairy Tales by Bruno Bettleheim is a great reference.

    2. In the Diversity A to Z post series I had a post about men who get punished for beating their wives. I'll look into the rest!

  2. I recently heard a story about a ruler whose daughter was deathly ill. The ruler is told that the only way to cure her is for all his subjects to contribute one teaspoon of oil for her to bathe in. The tub is wheeled into the town square. In the morning it is empty as no one thought their insignificant teaspoon of oil would matter.
    I am looking for a source for this story. Thank you.

    1. Hmm, I have not heard it before. It sounds a bit like a literary tale. I'll put it on the list!

  3. I am interested in stories that deal with dragons in a different way than having to kills them and then the world is fine. Are there stories and folk tales where dragons have a more complex character and role?

  4. Ther is an indonesian story where a dragon is good but he gets very angry when a youth steals his scales and he punishes the inhabitants of the islands (Sumatra and Java?) by creating dangerous currents in a passage between them.