Mermaids and other female water spirits have appeared in folklore and religions around the world for many centuries. They may be viewed as symbols both of men's idealization of the feminine and of men's fear of women. There is also ambivalence in women's views of mermaids, which may represent subservience to patriarchy, as in The Little Mermaid, yet also embody female freedom and power, as in images of goddesses. I collect Haitian art, so my interest focuses on La Sirene of Haitian Vodou.

For images of a few pieces from my Haitian art collection, visit the pages below:




I teach a class at Wellesley College on narrative identities and sirenology. View the course description and class website below:

Narrative Identity

Psychology 339 Seminar.

Narrative psychology explores the human propensity to create and use stories about significant figures and events in the process of identity formation. Topics will include an exploration of mermaids and related figures as cultural images, metaphors for personal transformation, and archetypal symbols of the collective unconscious. The Little Mermaid and La Sirene of Haitian Vodou will be examined as representations of men's fear of, and attempts to control, women's spirituality and sexuality. The personality theories of Jung and Reich provide the framework for the seminar. This course is open to juniors and seniors who have taken 212 and one other Grade II unit, excluding 205, or by permission of the instructor.

Course Website



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Myths and Legends
Folklore and Mythology E-texts
Mermaids on the Internet
Where Mermaids Dwell

If you would like to contact me about Haitian Art or Sirenology, please send me an e-mail.


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Website created by Christina H. Sanchez '02
Updated by Tara A. McGovern '04
Maintained by: Jonathan Cheek, Psychology
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Last Updated: August 4, 2003