CROSSLISTED with COLIT-UA220
4 credits / TR 3:30 – 4:45 pm
In 1812 the German scholars Jakob and Wilhelm Grimm published the first edition of their soon world-famous collection of fairy tales. They aimed to recover the voices of simple people whose way of life was now imperiled by industrialization and urbanization. These memorable stories involved violence and wit, enchantments and punishments, kings and peasants, elves and witches, talking animals, and children and parents. Read aloud by modern parents to their children, they became the shared substratum of modern culture: Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella, Rapunzel, Rumpelstiltskin, Puss in Boots, Little Red Riding Hood, and Hansel and Gretel. Grimm’s tales are the pre-history of Walt Disney. Children know that such stories communicate, in encoded form, the hard and not-so-innocent realities of the adult world: conflict within families, conflict between social classes, the lure of property, the ambiguities of sexual desire, the threats of poverty and violence.
Dense and mysterious, laden with symbols, the stories invite endless interpretation. In this course will develop our own interpretations of the stories, following paths opened up by psychoanalysis, mythography, and sociology. The course will also address the early history of folk- and fairy-tale collecting in Europe; the “artistic fairy tales”—literary imitations of the form—by the Romantic writers E.T.A. Hoffmann, Hans Christian Andersen, and Nathaniel Hawthorne; and the worldwide phenomenon of folk and fairy tales.
German majors will be expected to read the stories in the original language; others will read in translation. Taught in English.