“From a Stage to the Page: Maintaining Orality in Written Collections of Appalachian Fairy Tales”

Although not a region typically associated with the fairytale tradition, Appalachia possesses a surprisingly rich collection of such orally-performed stories. These tales have been adapted over time and contain distinct regional traits that could be used to promote Appalachian storytelling as an art form; however, the format in which they are currently available prevents them from being accessed by a wider audience. Tucked away on archive shelves, the cassette tapes and audio files that contain these stories preserve a wealth of regional knowledge but are rarely utilized by the general public. In this paper, I will 1) argue that a solution to this dilemma lies in the creation of a written collection that transfers these Appalachian fairy tales onto the physical page and 2) attempt to construct a transcription methodology that maintains orality and regional distinctiveness. After exploring the range of procedures that transcribers such as Richard Chase, Thomas Burton, and William Bernard have utilized while transferring oral tellings, I then apply a hybrid approach while reconstructing a tale called “The Little Princess of the Forest" in a way that strives to preserve original speech patterns while making the piece more suitable for a reading audience. In conducting this particular exercise, I hope to show that regional distinctiveness does not need to be lost in the process of moving oral pieces into a written format and to encourage the creation of a printed collection that makes these stories more available to the public, both within and beyond Appalachia’s borders.