Report based on ‘A Potentially True History of An Event’

Our task was to rewrite the Grimm brothers’ fairy tale The Frog King or Iron Heinrich. We identified many dominant discourses throughout the original text and decided to focus primarily on morality, gender and the monarchy setting. This report will identify the key properties of Foucault’s panoptic realism in the dominant discourse of the fairy tales as well as the methods for countering this discourse such as Terdiman’s oppositional techniques and Bakhtin’s interactive use of heteroglossia.

We have four different writers writing four different sections and focusing specifically on different characters to gain a better understanding of each of them and the themes they represent. This split focus emphasises certain themes – sometimes referring to them directly as in “In olden times, when doing what was moral still helped, parents told stories to their children” (Appendix 1), where Parkinson refers directly the theme of morality and the cautioning nature of the fairy tale discourse. Terdiman mentions two techniques that engage with the dominant discourse: dialogic and re/citation. In this case, we are conversing with the dominant discourse in an effort to manipulate its outcomes and so have employed a dialogic method of countering the dominant discourse.

The text moves through different genres as it progresses chronologically through the story and engages with different time periods, gradually becoming more contemporary. According to Terdiman’s notions of counter-discourse, there are two methods of conveying this: one can reject and oppose the dominant discourse through dialectic means by creating a “contrary and transgressive counter-discourse” (Terdiman 1985, 65) or de/citation through totally excluding the dominant discourse (280). The second and third chapters, written in the first person point of view from the prince and the princess respectively simultaneously employ Bakhtin’s notion of de/citation by deliberately neglecting to use the omniscient third person totalised vision of Foucault’s panoptic realism (Williams 2013). This is shown in the following excepts:


I know what you must be thinking… (Appendix 3)

And I was like, no but yeah whatever, go ahead buddy. (4)

Theses excerpts also show our understanding of heteroglossia as described by Bakhtin to be the use of different voices within a text (Bakhtin 2001, 1192). The first half moves from an omniscient narrator to two different first person narrations from two characters. This allows us to highlight the relevance of gender and morality in our contemporary context and drawn attention to by both Richard and Rosie when they portray almost the same qualities of their original characters in our current context, showing that the discourse of fairy tales is no longer absolutely necessary in order to communicate a story. Storytelling in the twenty-first century has developed dramatically from the panoptic realist days of yore but the lessons still have a place in our society.

In conclusion, our microfiction, ‘A Potentially True History of An Event’ has explored the notion of dominant and counter discourses in-depth through a myriad of different techniques. We have found that the story in and of itself still occurs in our contemporary context even though its conclusions do not remain the same as they once were.


Bakhtin, M 2001, ‘from Discourse in the Novel’ in Leitch, V. B. (ed) The Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism, W. W. Norton, New York, pp.1190-1220.

Craig, A Garde, A McKenzie, K & Parkinson, K 2013, ‘A Potentially True Story of An Event’, attached as an appendix.

Foucault, M 2004, ‘Discipline and Punish’ in Rivkin, J. (ed) Literary Theory: An Anthology, Second Edition. Malden, Blackwell, pp.549-566.

Foucault, M 2004, ‘The Archaeology of Knowledge’ in Rivkin, J. (ed) Literary Theory: An Introduction, Second Edition. Malden, Blackwell, pp.90-96.

Lobb, J 2013, ‘Counter-Discourse’ powerpoint slides, CACW231 – Writing, Representation and Power, University of Wollongong, viewed 9 April.

Terdiman, R 1985, excerpt from Discourse/Counter-Discourse: The Theory and Practice of Symbolic Resistance in Nineteenth-Century France, Cornell UP, Ithaca and London, pp.54-81.

Williams, A 2013, ‘Dominant discourse’ powerpoint slides, CACW231 – Writing, Representation and Power, University of Wollongong, viewed 9 April.


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