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Topics in Literature & Society: Fairy Tales

ENGL 293.920
instructor(s):
MTWR 2:30-4:15

Fairy tales, which began as oral folk tales, were not initially intended for children, and they contain a good deal more than is suitable for children or apparent to even its more sophisticated adult readers. Just what are those warm freshly baked cakes Little Red Riding Hood holds beneath her apron, and why does she have so much trouble distinguishing a wolf from a grandmother? Is that really a house Hansel and Gretel are eating? How did the Grimms progressively alter the folk tales they collected from one edition to another? Whose idea was it that Snow White should cook, make the beds, wash, sew, and knit in exchange for room and board, and why does she so foolishly admit and readmit the witch despite her experience and their warnings? Why is Cinderella's slipper made of glass in the Perrault version, of gold in Grimm's? And were wicked step-mothers really just a figment of the folk imagination? We'll read folk and fairy tales, particularly those of the Grimm brothers, though also some by Perrault, from 7 different angles: socio-historic, structural, mythic, moral-didactic, feminist, Freudian, and Jungian, looking for answers to these and other questions about these surprising, durable and fascinating tales.