English R1B

Reading and Composition: Don't Go There! Fairy Tales

Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
15 Fall 2019 Baker-Gibbs, Ariel
TTh 8-9:30 211 Dwinelle


There is almost nothing more familiar than a fairy tale, yet they all address unfamiliarity, danger, and risk. For children, young women and everyone else, the world is full of mysterious knowledge and dreadful ordeals. So how do fairy tales configure this world around us? What are they about? How do they depict growth and learning? How do they expect us to respond to story, text, place? How does our conception of what fairy tales are, and how they work, and what they're for, change over the years? From warnings not to go into the woods to challenges to pass through labyrinths, we will look across folktales, myths, short stories, novels, and films to explore how the fairy tale presents or conceals itself through retelling, adaptation, and interpretation.

In this course, we will focus on reading critically, developing analytical questions, and researching through in-class exercises, and on the gradual construction of an original final research paper on a fairy tale of the student's choosing, or a creative project of devising a fairy tale of your own along with a reflection on your work. We will work together over the semester to engage with critical reading and critical writing on a number of levels, through a process of drafting, revising, editing, researching, and peer-reviewing.

Texts will include selected fairy tales, such as "The Story of Grandmother" (French); "The Myth of Psyche and Eros" (Greek); "East of the Sun, West of the Moon" (Scandinavian); "The Myth of the Labyrinth" (Greek); Wendigo stories (Algonquin); short stories including "The Husband Stitch" in Her Body and Other Parties," by Carmen Maria Machado, "Bloodchild" in Bloodchild, by Octavia Butler; films including Pan's Labyrinth and Hunger Games.

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