A Very Merry Un-birthday Party

In honor of Lewis Carroll’s 183rd birthday, English professor Jill Rudy and students from her Fairy Tales in Television database project hosted a tea party to teach students how to use the fttv.byu.edu database and help them discover the relationships between algorithmic visualizations of fairytales on television and the theses that can be formed at the “crossroads of data and wonder.”

PROVO, Utah (Jan. 27, 2015)—BYU English majors are in the habit of celebrating celebrated authors, so what better way is there to celebrate than to throw an un-birthday tea party for an author as celebrated as Lewis Carroll?

The party was BYOTC—“Bring your own tea cup,” a homage to Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland and the Mad Hatter’s un-birthday celebration. Students passed the time enjoying herbal tea, hot chocolate and bonbons while playing Alice in Wonderland-themed Mad Libs.

In addition to un-birthday partying, students were invited to learn how to use the new fttv.byu.edu website, a project started by professors Jill Rudy and Jarom McDonald to create visualizations of the frequencies of fairytales on television.

TV series that feature fairytale themes are linked to a tale, such as Cinderella or Snow White, to graph aggregate data. Rudy explained that the blue nodes on the website’s graph represent fairytales, while the red nodes represent TV shows. Lines connecting the nodes indicate the relationship between each particular fairytale and TV show.

Visualizing data in this way reveals the cultural application of fairytales in society and promotes the formation of questions and theses for literary analysis.

Students and faculty are invited to use the database for research and as a tool to make meaningful connections between fairytale motifs and their application in televised material.

For more information, contact Jill Rudy or visit the fttv.byu.edu database.

—Sylvia Cutler (B.A. English ’17)


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