GERMAN 386 - Fairy Tales
Section: 101
Term: SP 2010
Subject: German (GERMAN)
Department: LSA Germanic Languages & Literatures
Requirements & Distribution:
Waitlist Capacity:
May not be repeated for credit.
Primary Instructor:

This course is an introduction to the German folk tales collected by the Brothers Grimm, their modern adaptations (both literary and visual), and the most important scholarship devoted to them. Assignments include readings in the tales themselves, film adaptations, theoretical engagements, and a number of interpretative and creative writing assignments. Taught in English.

German fairy tales, especially those collected by the Brothers Grimm, are a central feature of both German and US culture, one of the few groups of canonical texts that remain widely known to children and adults alike across educational, socio-economic and other cultural divides. Few children who have grown up in either country do not know of Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Hansel and Gretel or Little Red Riding Hood, be it in their very dark and often terrifying traditional versions or in their milder modern adaptions. They make up one of the most successful collection of stories ever told, on a par with Greek myths or the Bible, and they have produced in their wake any number of authored magical or supernatural tales as well as a prodigious body of scholarship. In this course, we will delve into their long and rich history, their origin, their changing role in the wider culture, and the literary, historical, and anthropological theories devoted to them. Our engagement will be both scholarly and playful.

Assignments will include reading (the best-known and the most obscure tales in the Grimm collection, literary fairy tales by figures such as Eichendorff or Hans Christian Anderson, scholarship devoted to folklore, celebrated interpretations), films (Disney and beyond), and a number of writing assignments both interpretative and creative.

Readings and discussion in English, although German speakers will be more than welcome to read and research German tales in the original.

Readings include

  • the complete collection of Grimm's Fairy Tales (transl. and ed. by Jack Zipes),
  • literary fairy tales by figures such as Goethe, Buechner, and Hans Christian Anderson,
  • as well as a number of influential theoretical readings, incl. selections from
    • Bruno Bettelheim: The Uses of Enchantment;
    • Ruth Bottigheimer: Grimms' Bad Girls and Bold Boys: The Moral and Social Vision of the Tales;
    • John Ellis: One Fairy Story Too Many;
    • Vladimir Propp, The Morphology of the Folktale,
    • Maria Tatar, The Hard Facts of the Grimms' Fairy Tales.

We will study the most well-known fairy tales (Snow White, Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood, Hansel and Gretel, etc.) including rewritings and film adaptions as well as the most obscure ones.

Crs Requirements: Assignments will include extensive readings in the original collection, literary and film adaptations, readings in seminal folk-tale scholarship, and interpretative and creative writing assignments. Grades will be based on writing assignments and class participation. I envision three papers of 5 pp each as well as a creative assignment; in addition, I require my students to hand in readers' responses on CTools before every session, so I think the course will meet the writing and reading threshold for 300-level courses.

Intended Audience: German majors and minors as well as students across the university

Class Format: 3 hrs per week lecture format with discussion plus required film viewing and analysis

GERMAN 386 - Fairy Tales
Schedule Listing
101 (REC)
TuWTh 3:00PM - 5:00PM
NOTE: Data maintained by department in Wolverine Access. If no textbooks are listed below, check with the department.

ISBN: 0553382160
The complete fairy tales of the brothers Grimm, Author: transl. and with an introd. by Jack Zipes. Ill. by John B. Gruelle., Publisher: Bantam Books Bantam 3. 2003
ISBN: 0140137270
The uses of enchantment : the meaning and importance of fairy tales, Author: Bruno Bettelheim., Publisher: Penguin Reprint. 1991
ISBN: 0938756664
The art of storytelling, Author: Nancy Mellon., Publisher: Yellow Moon Press 2003
ISBN: 0393313484
Women's work : the first 20,000 years : women, cloth, and society in early times, Author: Elizabeth Wayland Barber., Publisher: Norton 1995
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