Bachelor of Arts (BA)
Michael P. Jaros
"The Black Bull" is a historical fantasy novella set in late eighteenth-century Ireland. It explores traditional Irish folklore and a common romance fiction trope through a feminist lens. Claire Featherfew, a sensible young woman not quite young enough to be unmarried, works as a book-binder for the taciturn Mr. Collins for the better part of a year before he proposes to her. She accepts and continues restoring his large collection of fairy-tales and books of folklore. Mr. Collins is secretive about the great black bull that has long been regarded as the pride of Collins Manor. Claire’s curiosity gets the better of her, and she uncovers a secret about Mr. Collins and the bull. She makes a difficult choice, and finds herself contending with wild, perilous creatures she thought only existed in the pages of her fiancé’s books.
"The Black Bull" addresses a common trope in both classic and contemporary fiction: the aloof but handsome bachelor whose prickly (and frequently abusive) behavior the heroine endures before redeeming him with her love. Most of the time, these stories also have a significant power imbalance between the brooding male love interest and the heroine. From Hades and Persephone and Jane Eyre’s Mr. Rochester to modern Byronic heroes like Uprooted’s Sarkan (not to mention the endless adaptations of Beauty and the Beast), it is clear that this trope continues to fascinate and entertain readers. "The Black Bull" simultaneously embraces and subverts this trope.
Liddle, Jennifer S., "The Black Bull: Exploring Celtic Mythology And Romance Fiction Tropes Through A Historical Fantasy Novella" (2019). Honors Theses. 229.