Category Archives: Tayler Boelk

Learning Through Song – by Tayler Boelk. The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy, at NorthStarReports.org and facebook.com/NorthStarReports

Learning Through Song – by Tayler Boelk. The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy, at NorthStarReports.org and facebook.com/NorthStarReports

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[Source of image, see: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Edmund_Fitzgerald,_1971,_3_of_4_(restored).jpg]

Everything I learned about the Edmund Fitzgerald, a famous Great Lakes shipwreck, I learned through song. I can tell you how many tons of iron ore was on the ship—about 26,000. I can tell you where they were coming from—Wisconsin,- and where they were going—Cleveland. I can even tell you how many people died when it sank to the bottom of Lake Superior—29.

Song has been, and continues to be, a great method of learning. An excellent example of this is the children’s song “The ABC’s.” In the United States, this is how children learn the basic units of communication. Through song, they learn the letters used to build words for both speaking and writing. Language is an interactive and social process, and music is a natural way for children to experience this process in a pleasurable way. As schooling continues, learning through song remains present. School House Rock and Animaniacs were popular educational television shows that taught the continents, presidents, states and their capitals, parts of speech, and even more universal things such as countries of the world. Some songs are used to encourage cooperation and problem solving. The “Clean-Up Song,” for instance, was a popular one from kindergarten, teaching children that the best way to get work done quickly is to work together. While these are dominantly western examples, the great thing about music is that it spans across the globe.

Music exists in every culture. It varies in style, language, and message, but it is one of the most powerful ways of understanding the differences and similarities of others. It is universal in that music always speaks to the human experience. Even when we listen to music in languages we cannot understand, we receive a lasting impression of the challenges, sorrows, and joys of that culture. It is this emotional experience that really connects a listener with the music. This connection breaks language barriers allowing us to learn about other cultures and from others’ experiences. In addition, the rhythm and patterns of song can help us learn language easier. In a choral setting, I have much experience singing in foreign languages. Most of the learning was done through the active singing of the song. Sure, we learn things via lecture or reading but by simultaneously reading lyrics, hearing them, and actively singing them, we are processing the information in several ways rather than one at a time.

This applies to music in familiar languages by allowing us to quickly memorize the information through use of familiar patterns. You don’t have to be a music prodigy to recognize rhyming schemes or the difference between the chorus and verse. In our everyday experiences of listening to music on the radio, in movies, commercial jingles, or music classes we become familiar with these patterns. Singers and song writers take advantage of these patterns to tell stories or teach lessons. As I mentioned before, everything I know about the Edmund Fitzgerald I learned through song. Gordon Lightfoot’s song, “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald” is arguably the source of the ships fame. His song follows many traditional methods of storytelling including foreshadowing, similes, and contains a beginning, middle, and end. While this story could easily be told verbally, by putting it to song and adding additional literary techniques, such as rhyming and alliteration, it becomes instantly more memorable.

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, a famous German writer, once stated that music is “the language of the heart.” While this is beautiful, I would argue that music is the language of the world. It brings people together from across the globe and helps them understand and enjoy each other’s culture.

Tayler Boelk serves as assistant editor for The North Star Reports.

Please contact Professor Liang if you wish to write for The North Star Reports — HLIANG (at) css.edu

See also, our Facebook page with curated news articles at http://www.facebook.com/NorthStarReports

The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy (http://NorthStarReports.org) is a student edited and student authored open access publication centered around the themes of global and historical connections. Our abiding philosophy is that those of us who are fortunate enough to receive an education and to travel our planet are ethically bound to share our knowledge with those who cannot afford to do so. Therefore, creating virtual and actual communities of learning between college and K-12 classes are integral to our mission. In five semesters we have published 200 articles covering all habitable continents and a variety of topics ranging from history and politics, food and popular culture, to global inequities to complex identities. These articles are read by K-12 and college students. Our student editors and writers come from all parts of the campus, from Nursing to Biology, Physical Therapy to Business, and remarkably, many of our student editors and writers have long graduated from college. We also have writers and editors from other colleges and universities. In addition to our main site, we also curate a Facebook page dedicated to annotated news articles selected by our student editors (http://www.facebook.com/NorthStarReports). This is done by an all volunteer staff. We have a frugal cash budget, and we donate much of our time and talent to this project. We are sponsored by St. Scholastica’s Department of History and Politics and by the scholarly Middle Ground Journal: World History and Global Studies (http://theMiddleGroundJournal.org).

For a brief summary, please see the American Historical Association’s Perspectives on History, at: http://www.historians.org/perspectives/issues/2013/1305/Opening-The-Middle-Ground-Journal.cfm

Hong-Ming Liang, Ph.D., Editor-in-Chief and Publisher, The North Star Reports; Chief Editor, The Middle Ground Journal; Associate Professor of History and Politics, The College of St. Scholastica.

Kathryn Marquis Hirsch, Managing Editor, The North Star Reports.

(c) 2012-present The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy http://NorthStarReports.org ISSN: 2377-908X The NSR is sponsored and published by Professor Hong-Ming Liang, NSR Student Editors and Writers, The Department of History and Politics of The College of St. Scholastica, and the scholarly Middle Ground Journal. See Masthead for our not-for-profit educational open- access policy. K-12 teachers, if you are using these reports for your classes, please contact editor-in-chief Professor Liang at HLIANG (at) css.edu

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Tulum, Mexico: City of the Dawn — The North Star Reports – by Tayler Boelk. Sponsored by The College of St. Scholastica and The Middle Ground Journal

Tulum, Mexico: City of the Dawn — The North Star Reports – by Tayler Boelk. Sponsored by The College of St. Scholastica and The Middle Ground Journal

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Along the east coast of Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula on the Caribbean Sea lie the Mayan ruins of Tulum. Located in the state of Quintana Roo, Mexico, Tulum was one of the last cities built and inhabited by the Mayans. The Maya civilization was one of the most dominant indigenous societies in Mesoamerica, excelling in agriculture, hieroglyphic writing, pottery, mathematics, and calendar-making.

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Tulum, which means “fence” or “wall” in the Yucatan Mayan language, is named after the large stone wall that surrounds the city. However, it did not always have this name. It is believed that Tulum was previously known as Zama, meaning “City of the Dawn”, because it faces the sunrise. This particular location was an important pre-Columbian trade site as it had access to both land and sea trade routes. Archaeological evidence suggests that the city of Tulum traded with areas all over the Yucatan Peninsula, Central Mexico, Central America, and sometimes beyond. Now, it is the most popular Mayan tourist site in the Yucatan and the third most visited archeological site in Mexico.

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My tour guide, Gus, was very passionate about de-bunking common myths and misconceptions about the Maya. For example, one Mayan myth is that they performed ceremonial sacrifices, the most popular story being the human sacrifice of a virgin. Gus explained that these “sacrifices” were most likely public executions of criminals and that there is no way to discover if those killed were virgins or non. While they did have some interesting practices, such as making a small cut to the hand as a blood sacrifice, most of these savage and primitive rumors surrounding the Mayan people were the product of their Spanish conquerors (or “conquistadors”).

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The Spanish conquerors, bringing with them weapons and disease, caused a rapid decline of the Mayan people.

However, by the time the Spanish Conquistadors arrived, the Maya were already weakening. In fact, many large Mayan sites had already been abandoned. Recent discoveries show evidence that drought, deforestation, and the decline of large game animals contributed to the Maya’s collapse of empire. While there were many reasons for the decline, the central cause was that the Maya’s cities grew beyond the capacity of the land. This phenomenon forced the Maya to separate into smaller villages, which made it much easier to conquer them.

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As the Spanish pursued their quest of discovering and extracting gold and silver, they learned more about the Mayan people. Mayan warfare, as Gus explained, was somewhat like a game of chess. If the warring state injured or killed the opposing forces’ King, they were considered victorious and both sides put down their weapons. It is believed that the Spanish took advantage of this tradition as they conquered different Mayan communities by targeting the respective leaders.

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Despite their numerous militaristic advantages , it took the Spanish 170 years to finally subjugate the Maya peoples. Their Mayan pursuit took significantly longer than their battles with the Aztecs and Incas, and they never found the riches they were seeking. The survivors were forced into slavery and were expected to convert to Christianity. Those who refused were often arrested and tortured. To further discourage pantheistic practices, religious texts and artifacts produced by the Maya were actively destroyed.

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Gus emphasized that it was the Spanish who created the Mayan stereotype of “the stupid Indians” when, in fact, the Maya were far more advanced than the rest of the world in both in mathematics and astronomy. This stereotype was reinforced as the Spanish suppressed the surviving Mayans into slavery and deprived them of an education. This is one of many examples supporting the saying: “History is decided by the winner.” Fortunately, a great deal of Mayan history has survived to date, and an adapted version of the Mayan language and some of the culture’s practices have been recovered. Today, Mayan descendants continue to live in the Yucatan Peninsula and other parts of Central America and strive to keep their rich heritage alive and vibrant.

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Please contact Professor Liang if you wish to write for The North Star Reports — HLIANG (at) css.edu

See also, our Facebook page with curated news articles at http://www.facebook.com/NorthStarReports

The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy, The College of St. Scholastica and the scholarly Middle Ground Journal’s online learning community and outreach program with undergraduate and K-12 classes around the world. For a brief summary, please see the American Historical Association’s Perspectives on History, at:

http://www.historians.org/perspectives/issues/2013/1305/Opening-The-Middle-Ground-Journal.cfm

The North Star Reports publishes edited essays from our students, particularly from those who are currently stationed, or will soon be stationed abroad. Students have reported from Mongolia, Southern China, Shanghai, Norway, northeastern China, Micronesia, The Netherlands, Tanzania, Ireland, England, Finland, Russia, and Haiti. We also have students developing reviews of books, documentaries, and films, and analysis of current events from around the world. We will post their dispatches, and report on their interactions with the North Star Reports students and teachers. We thank The Department of History and Politics and the School of Arts and Letters of The College of St. Scholastica for their generous financial support for The North Star Reports and The Middle Ground Journal.

Hong-Ming Liang, Ph.D., Editor-in-Chief, The North Star Reports; Chief Editor, The Middle Ground Journal; Associate Professor of History and Politics, The College of St. Scholastica.

Kathryn Marquis Hirsch, Managing Editor, The North Star Reports.

(c) 2012-present The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy http://NorthStarReports.org ISSN: 2377-908X The NSR is sponsored by The College of St. Scholastica and the scholarly Middle Ground Journal. See Masthead for our not-for-profit educational open- access policy. K-12 teachers, if you are using these reports for your classes, please contact editor-in-chief Professor Liang at HLIANG (at) css.edu

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Meet Our NSR Student Editors — Tayler Boelk, Assistant Editor – The North Star Reports – Sponsored by The College of St. Scholastica and The Middle Ground Journal

Meet Our NSR Student Editors — Tayler Boelk, Assistant Editor – The North Star Reports – Sponsored by The College of St. Scholastica and The Middle Ground Journal

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Tayler Boelk, NSR Assistant Editor. I am a junior at the College of Saint Scholastica majoring in Biochemistry. Although my studies are in the sciences, I have always been passionate about the arts. At CSS, I sing in the Bella Voce select women’s choir, am involved with theater, serve as President of the English and Arts Club, and am co-editor-in-chief of the campus newspaper, The Cable. My interest in these clubs and activities are what helped me to decide to take on an English minor last year.

I began writing for the North Star Reports in the Spring of 2014 with the goal of improving my writing skills. Now, I enjoy sharing the importance of family history, learning about different cultures, and seeing the world around us in a new lens. This summer, I am most excited about leaving the U.S. for the first time. I hope to come back from Mexico with many new perspectives and article ideas for the North Star Reports.

Please contact Professor Liang if you wish to write for The North Star Reports — HLIANG (at) css.edu

See also, our Facebook page with curated news articles at http://www.facebook.com/NorthStarReports

The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy, The College of St. Scholastica and the scholarly Middle Ground Journal’s online learning community and outreach program with undergraduate and K-12 classes around the world. The North Star Reports has flourished since 2012. For a brief summary, please see the American Historical Association’s Perspectives on History, at:

http://www.historians.org/perspectives/issues/2013/1305/Opening-The-Middle-Ground-Journal.cfm

The North Star Reports publishes edited essays from our students, particularly from those who are currently stationed, or will soon be stationed abroad. Students have reported from Mongolia, Southern China, Shanghai, northeastern China, The Netherlands, Tanzania, Ireland, England, Finland, Russia, and Haiti. We also have students developing reviews of books, documentaries, and films, and analysis of current events from around the world. We will post their dispatches, and report on their interactions with the North Star Reports students and teachers. We thank The Department of History and Politics and the School of Arts and Letters of The College of St. Scholastica for their generous financial support for The North Star Reports and The Middle Ground Journal.

Hong-Ming Liang, Ph.D., Editor-in-Chief, The North Star Reports; Chief Editor, The Middle Ground Journal; Associate Professor of History and Politics, The College of St. Scholastica, Duluth, MN, USA

(c) 2012-present The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy http://NorthStarReports.org ISSN: 2377-908X The NSR is sponsored by The Middle Ground Journal and The College of St. Scholastica. See Masthead for our not-for-profit educational open- access policy. K-12 teachers, if you are using these reports for your classes, please contact editor-in-chief Professor Liang at HLIANG (at) css.edu

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Food, Family and World History — The North Star Reports – by Tayler Boelk. Sponsored by The College of St. Scholastica and The Middle Ground Journal

Food, Family and World History — The North Star Reports – by Tayler Boelk. Sponsored by The College of St. Scholastica and The Middle Ground Journal

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When I was first seeking a theme for my family project, I struggled. It was not until about half way through the project that I realized how prominent cooking was in my family. Making homemade food has always been important to us. Even today, we make many homemade foods such as noodles, jams, salsas, fritters and breads. The more research I did into family traditions, the more often food came up.

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One of my favorite things to do with my family is bake homemade bread. Because we have to wait for the bread to rise, it has always been an all-day event. We make as many loaves of bread as we have pans, including some cinnamon bread. The youngest children are taught to make their own loaves in the smaller pans while others take turns making and eating fritters.

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Fritters have always been a favorite of mine growing up. I thought fritters were a food unique to my family, but as I watched more and more presentations, I realized that an incredible number of people with Scandinavian heritage make the same food by a different name. My family’s fritters are another family’s “dough god” and another’s “fry bread” but essentially it’s just a donut. My family’s version of the fritter is homemade bread dough fried in oil and topped with sugar.

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Learning that so many others have this same food in their family really gave me a way to connect with other members of my class. We may have come from all different backgrounds but there are still things tying us together. This is one of the amazing things about food. Yes, we need it to survive, but it is also a mechanism of bringing people together. It is no coincidence that each of the most important holidays in one’s family usually have a dish or two associated with it. Many people in my community have the usual Thanksgiving turkey or birthday cake but one traditional food in my family that I think is pretty great is our homemade noodle soup. taylerfood5
A few times a year, usually around bread-making days, my family makes homemade noodles to eat in soup. For the noodles, we take flour, salt, and eggs and mix it all together. Then we roll it out in a thin layer and let it dry. When it’s dry we cut it and boil it like you would any other noodles. Aside from the noodles themselves, the soup has no actual recipe. In the past, it would be considered “a poor man’s soup:” the kind of soup to which you added random vegetables and meats, if any were available, into a big pot and that would be dinner. I find this both humorous and endearing because now it seems to be a special treat. It is funny how things like this change throughout history, and it truly makes me appreciate the access to things like meat that I have today.

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The biggest lesson these foods have taught me is how important it is to carry on traditions. Even when families gain a higher economic status, these traditions are carried on. Maybe it reminds them of their childhood, or maybe they never lose their belief that no food should be wasted; in any case, I am thankful that the recipes for these foods have continued to be taught generation after generation. The most important element of a family is what brings them together— in my family, this is homemade food. [From Professor Liang’s 2014 World History II class.]

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Please contact Professor Liang if you wish to write for The North Star Reports — HLIANG (at) css.edu

See also, our Facebook page with curated news articles at http://www.facebook.com/NorthStarReports

The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy, The Middle Ground Journal and The College of St. Scholastica’s collaborative outreach program with K-12 classes around the world. We acknowledge North Star Academy of Duluth, Minnesota as our inaugural partner school, and the flagship of our program. We also welcome Duluth East High School and other schools around the world. The North Star Reports has flourished since 2012. For a brief summary, please see the American Historical Association’s Perspectives on History, at:

http://www.historians.org/perspectives/issues/2013/1305/Opening-The-Middle-Ground-Journal.cfm

The North Star Reports publishes edited essays from our students, particularly from those who are currently stationed, or will soon be stationed abroad. Students have reported from Mongolia, Southern China, Shanghai, northeastern China, The Netherlands, Tanzania, Ireland, England, Finland, Russia, and Haiti. We also have students developing reviews of books, documentaries, and films, projects on historical memory, the price individuals pay during tragic global conflicts, and analysis of current events from around the world. We will post their dispatches, and report on their interactions with the North Star Reports students and teachers.

We thank The Department of History and Politics and the School of Arts and Letters of The College of St. Scholastica for their generous financial support for The North Star Reports and The Middle Ground Journal.

Hong-Ming Liang, Ph.D., Chief Editor, The Middle Ground Journal, Associate Professor of History and Politics, The College of St. Scholastica, Duluth, MN, USA

(c) 2012-present The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy http://NorthStarReports.org The NSR is sponsored by The Middle Ground Journal and The College of St. Scholastica. See Masthead for our not-for-profit educational open- access policy. K-12 teachers, if you are using these reports for your classes, please contact chief editor Professor Liang at HLIANG (at) css.edu

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What’s in a name? – Identity and Story Telling Through Names – The North Star Reports – by Tayler Boelk. Sponsored by The College of St. Scholastica and The Middle Ground Journal

What’s in a name? – Identity and Story Telling Through Names – — The North Star Reports – by Tayler Boelk. Sponsored by The College of St. Scholastica and The Middle Ground Journal

Names are a way of communicating. They indicate to whom we are speaking, alert us when someone wants our attention, and let us know how much trouble we are in (when mom pulls out the middle name, it’s a lot!) Last names, however, are a slightly different. These names indicate cultural information, such as heritage. For example, by hearing my last name, a number of inferences can be made. “Boelk” is a German-sounding name. From this, people can assume I have German heritage, that I am white, probably blonde, and that I drink a lot of beer. For three out of four of these, they’d be correct. Now, take the last name “Lopez”. Does the same mental image appear? Probably not.

In addition to heritage, names have the potential to tell stories. I’m sure everyone can think of a relative or friend who was named after a grandparent or celebrity. But what about last names? Is there a story behind a German sounding “Voelk” changed to an English sounding “Boelk?” How about my mother’s side of the family being named “Johnson” in Norway and suddenly switching to “Lillo” after immigration? I think so.

My great grandmother, on my mother’s side, did extensive amounts of research on family heritage and genealogy. It is for this reason that I am sharing the story of the Johnson/Lillo’s rather than the “Voelk’s” (investigation pending.) This name change is an important part of my family history and tells the story of my family’s immigration to the United States.
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[The Lille O farm’s main building, which was over 200 years old.]

There were several small islands in the river that ran along the “Lille O” farm in Christiana, Norway. The name Lilloe means “Little Island” in Norwegian. The first “Lillo” to own the Lille O farm purchased it at auction on April 17th, 1792. Andreas Johnson inherited the farm from his father on December 29th, 1842. Though it is now a public park in present day Oslo, this farm remained in the Lillo family for 109 years.
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[This goblet that was owned by Christian Ancher, the original owner of the Lille O Farm, can be found in the Oslo Museum of applied art. It is dated 1764.]

According to the world history encyclopedia, about 10.2 million people immigrated to the U.S. during 1820-1880, this included an entire 1/3 of Norway’s population. Andreas Johnson and his family immigrated to the U.S. in two groups. The first group was two of the eldest children, including Johann Johnson, who left Christiana, Norway on March 27th, 1854. They lived in Wisconsin until the second group of Andreas, his wife, and the rest of the children arrived about three years later. They then moved to Minnesota where there is record of an Andreas Jensen buying land in 1857, in Salem Township. This was before Minnesota had become a state.
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[Photograph of a cartoon my great grandmother kept pinned with her immigration research. I found cartoons frequently as I went through her work.]

Johann Johnson, Andreas’ eldest son, was the first in the family to officially change his last name to Lillo. This was documented in the 1870 census and was entered as “Lelo” by the census taker. Taking the name of a family farm was a common, and legal, practice in Norway. Magnus, Andreas’ youngest son, did not begin using the name Lillo until he applied for a post office in Minnesota. He was told there were too many Johnson’s and changed the last name to Lillo some time in 1898 keeping Johnson as a middle name. The town of Lillo remained on Minnesota maps until the 1930’s and Lillo has forever replaced Johnson as my family’s surname.
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[Information recorded by my Great Grandmother during her research]
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[Photograph of Minnesota Map still depicting the town of Lillo]
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[Photocopy of a postcard sent from the town of Lillo]

Magnus was my great, great, great grandfather and as a result of him applying for a post office, I am a Lillo. Had the family name remained “Johnson”, there would never have been the town of Lillo and the story of the Lille O Farm may have been lost over the years. This is my favorite example of how a name, or the changing of a name, tells a story.


Please contact Professor Liang if you wish to write for The North Star Reports — HLIANG (at) css.edu

For all of the North Star Reports, see http://NorthStarReports.org See also, http://www.facebook.com/NorthStarReports

The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy, The Middle Ground Journal and The College of St. Scholastica’s collaborative outreach program with K-12 classes around the world. We acknowledge North Star Academy of Duluth, Minnesota as our inaugural partner school, and the flagship of our K-12 outreach program. We also welcome Duluth East High School and other schools around the world. The North Star Reports has flourished since 2012. For a brief summary, please see the American Historical Association’s Perspectives on History, at:

http://www.historians.org/perspectives/issues/2013/1305/Opening-The-Middle-Ground-Journal.cfm

The North Star Reports will share essays from our student interns, particularly from those who are currently stationed, or will soon be stationed abroad. Student interns have reported from Mongolia, Southern China, Shanghai, northeastern China, The Netherlands, Tanzania, Ireland, England, Finland, Russia, and Haiti. We also have students developing presentations on theatrical representations of historical trauma, historical memory, the price individuals pay during tragic global conflicts, and different perceptions of current events from around the world. We will post their dispatches, and report on their interactions with the North Star Reports students and teachers.

Hong-Ming Liang, Ph.D., Chief Editor, The Middle Ground Journal, Associate Professor of History and Politics, The College of St. Scholastica, Duluth, MN, USA

(c) 2012-present The North Star Reports. The NSR is co-sponsored by The Middle Ground Journal and The College of St. Scholastica. See Masthead for our not-for-profit educational open-access policy. K-12 teachers, please contact the chief editor if you are using these reports for your classes, please contact Professor Liang at HLIANG (at) css.edu

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Trolls: The Dangerous, the Terrifying, and the Commercialized? — The North Star Project Reports, sponsored by The Middle Ground Journal. By Tayler Boelk

Trolls: The Dangerous, the Terrifying, and the Commercialized? — The North Star Project Reports, sponsored by The Middle Ground Journal. By Tayler Boelk

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In most Norwegian folklore, trolls are depicted as dangerous, terrifying, and incredibly stupid. Troll tales are used to teach lessons to children. The book I have, Trolls and Their Relatives, was given to me by my great grandmother. Trolls have become increasingly commercialized. The book I received, as well as some miniature troll sculptures, were purchased in Norway in a store entirely dedicated to trolls. My grandmother said you could buy troll statues larger than her!

Trolls describes the most “common” trolls in Norway and how to outwit them. While most trolls are considered dangerous, not all want to cause harm. If a human chose to house a Nissen, and give it food on Christmas Eve, the troll would bring good luck for the livestock and crops the next year. This story was used to teach the lesson of kindness. Some other lessons from the trolls include the Nokken, who represents disobedience, the Tussel, who signifies gossip, and the Hulder, who represents temptation.

According to one of the funniest stories, trolls would sometimes steal human children and replace them with troll children, and this explains why children are not very well behaved for a few years. Eventually the trolls get sick of the human child’s good manners and take back their ill-mannered troll child. If we apply this traditional tale to Disney’s Frozen, it would appear that Christoph and Sven weren’t adopted, but rather, kidnapped!

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Frozen included a depiction of the Norwegian troll. These trolls had some traditional traits, such as becoming a part of their environment (you may recall a cute little troll exclaiming “I grew a mushroom!”), but for the most part were the nicest possible version of a troll found in Norwegian folklore. Our antagonists did not have to worry about being eaten or crushed, nor did the trolls have to worry about any Vikings coming to destroy them or turn them to stone. (In Frozen they already were stone!) Despite the inaccuracy of the trolls’ loving characteristics, as someone with Norwegian heritage I am happy that Disney made an attempt at including some of Norway’s most interesting history.

Yet another example of the commercialized troll comes from an excerpt from an Oslo magazine introducing an app for smartphones called “Trolls vs. Vikings.” The game depicts the trolls setting up defenses and battling the angry (and stupid) Viking characters who are trying to steal their gold. While some things are accurate (they share the names of traditional trolls) I would not consider this app a good historical representation of the relationship between Norwegians and trolls.

So what is the relationship between Norwegians and trolls? As I mentioned earlier, the trolls were used to symbolize a lesson or quality such as kindness or temptation. Each troll has a specific characteristic, usually but not always undesirable. If Norwegians treated certain trolls with respect and kindness, good fortune came to them, but most trolls are depicted as dangerous. Trolls representing undesirable characteristics were seen as something that needed to be defeated. Thankfully, my book teaches me how to defeat trolls, something I feel I should share with you in case you should ever come upon one!

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Trolls are defeated many different ways, depending on the creature. For example, the Nokken can be defeated rather easily. The Nokken lives in swamps, rivers, and lakes, luring people into the water. To defeat the Nokken, one needs only to throw a needle or a cross into the water while speaking the Nokken’s name. The larger trolls that you would typically find stealing cattle or princesses take a little more effort. To defeat one of these trolls you must chop off all of its heads (this can be as many as twelve!). But for your typical troll, all you must do is keep them chasing you until the sun rises at which time they will either burst or turn into stone. Those that turn into stone become just another part of the Norwegian countryside.

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Photo Credits:
Eriksen, Jan Bergh. Trolls and Their Relatives. Stavanger, Norway: Dreyer Bok, 1983.
“What Are Trolls?”. Trollwatch International. http://www.trollwatch.com.au/What%are%20Trolls/pid1whataretrolls.html
wikia.com. “Trolls-FrozenWiki.” Frozen Wiki. http://frozen.wikia.com/wiki/Trolls


Please contact Professor Liang if you wish to contribute to The North Star Project Reports — HLIANG@CSS.EDU

For all of the North Star Project Reports, see https://mgjnorthstarproject.wordpress.com/

The North Star Project Reports: The Middle Ground Journal’s collaborative outreach program with K-12 classes around the world. We acknowledge North Star Academy of Duluth, Minnesota as our inaugural partner school, and the flagship of our K-12 outreach program. We also welcome Duluth East High School, Duluth Denfeld High School, Dodge Middle School and other schools around the world to the North Star Project. The North Star Project has flourished since 2012. For a brief summary, please see the American Historical Association’s Perspectives on History, at:

http://www.historians.org/perspectives/issues/2013/1305/Opening-The-Middle-Ground-Journal.cfm

https://www.historians.org/publications-and-directories/perspectives-on-history/january-2014/embracing-oa-universities-adopt-open-access-policies-for-faculty-journal-publications

The Middle Ground Journal will share brief dispatches from our North Star Project student interns, particularly from those who are currently stationed, or will soon be stationed abroad. Student interns have reported from Mongolia, Southern China, Shanghai, northeastern China, The Netherlands, Tanzania, Ireland, England, Finland, Russia, and Haiti. We also have students developing presentations on theatrical representations of historical trauma, historical memory, the price individuals pay during tragic global conflicts, and different perceptions of current events from around the world. We will post their dispatches here, and report on their interactions with the North Star Project students and teachers.

Hong-Ming Liang, Ph.D., Chief Editor, The Middle Ground Journal, Associate Professor of History and Politics, The College of St. Scholastica, Duluth, MN, USA

(c) 2013-present The Middle Ground Journal. See Submission Guidelines page for the journal’s not-for-profit educational open-access policy.

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Filed under North Star Student Editors, Professor Hong-Ming Liang, Tayler Boelk