Reading & Composition

Reading & Composition

Fractured Fairy Tales
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Gianna Ward-Vetrano
9:30-11 AM
4104 Dwinelle

This course will explore fairy tales and how such stories are adapted and translated across cultural, linguistic, national, historical, and temporal boundaries. Most of us know many fairy tales, but the versions of those fairy tales vary widely. Examining these variations, together we will be asking what it means to adapt a story that ‘everyone knows.’ What old meanings are lost, and can they be recovered? What new meanings emerge with new adaptations or as the surrounding culture evolves? Why do we continue to tell these stories, in some form or another, centuries or perhaps even millenia after they were first told? How can we define the fairy tale as a genre, especially since it is no longer a primarily oral genre? We will address these questions and others while reading texts from many different places and eras, which will encompass works by writers who are primarily famous for writing fairy tales, others by writers more often recognized as adapters of fairy tales, and writers who write new, original fairy tales. 

This is a Reading & Composition course, and our main objective will be to develop critical reading and writing skills. To that end, substantial class time will be devoted to writing workshops and peer reviews. In addition to completing frequent essay assignments and revisions, students will be expected to read up to 100 pages of literary and scholarly texts each week, and to participate actively in class and virtual discussions.

Possible texts:

Anonymous, The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter

Basile, Giambattista, Tale of Tales

Brothers Grimm, various

Calvino, Italo, Fiabe italiane

Carter, Angela, The Bloody Chamber

Goethe, Johann Wolfgang von, “Erlkönig”

Ortberg, Daniel Mallory, The Merry Spinster

Oyeyemi, Helen, Boy, Snow, Bird

Perrault, Charles, various

Rowling, J.K., The Tales of Beedle the Bard

Tolkien, J.R.R., “On Fairy Stories”