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Happily Ever After?

ENGL 2355.401
also offered as: GSWS 2455
MW 12:00-1:29pm

It is a truth universally acknowledged that there are no more famous opening words than “Once upon a time”. They are familiar to the point of ubiquity, beloved, demanded, simply accepted as a promise that something extraordinary is about to unfold. And, in fairy tales, something always does. 

In this course, we will focus not on that promise (after all, it’s an immutable truth), but on the less immutable “Happily ever after” that we expect to have follow. Because not every tale ends happily for anyone, let alone everyone. Just ask most fictional stepmothers. And even for the winner, the path is seldom smooth.

We will examine fairy tales and folklore across continents and centuries, considering both form and function in how they stand as both rulebook and cautionary tale, specifically as they speak to gender and sexuality. What, really, are the messages in these age-old tales? In their contemporary adaptations? How, as 21st century scholars, should we approach magic and monstrosity? When we sing along loudly with Queen Elsa of Disney’s Frozen, exhorting each other to “Let It Go”, what is *it*?

Materials will include the traditional (such as Grimm’s tales, One Thousand and One Nights, Pride and Prejudice), to the modern (Disney Disney Disney, Hayao Miyazaki, Angela Carter, Barbie) to the scholarly (such as Morrison, Lieberman, Kristeva, Warner, Solnit).

Requirements include weekly check-ins, two short response papers, a presentation on a course-related topic, a final project, and regular participation in class discussions. If all good little scholars are eager and industrious, there might be literary cookies. If not, there might be (were)wolves... 

English Major Requirements
  • Literature Seminar pre-1900 (AEB9)
  • Sector 5 19th Century (AE19)
  • Sector 6 20th & 21st Centuries (AE20)
English Concentration Attributes
  • 20th-21st Century Concentration (AE21)
  • Gender/Sexuality Concentration (AEGS)
College Attributes
Additional Attributes