English 118-01 Topics in World Literature: Fairy Tales

Spring 05 MWF 9:10-10:10

Eaton 307

Frann Michel
Eaton 204
office hours: MWF 10:20-11:20, 3-4,
and other times by appointment

Texts and Links

Goals and Expectations

Reading Schedule


Study Questions

Discussion Questions

Paper Topics

Paper Guidelines





Other Questions?

Timeline of Readings

Spring 2002 Final Exam


Required texts available at WU bookstore:
Barthelme, Snow White
Carter, The Bloody Chamber
Sexton, Transformations
Tatar, ed., The Classic Fairy Tales (CFT)

Tales by the Brothers Grimm that are not in CFT are available online in translations by Margaret Hunt at http://www.ucs.mun.ca/~wbarker/fairies/grimm/. German texts are available side by side with unattributed English translations at http://www.northvegr.org/lore/grimmsf/. Numbers refer to the order of the text in the 1857 edition.

Additional texts will be placed on electronic reserve.

Some other links of interest:

Folk and Fairytales E-texts
A huge collection, with pages on the Grimms and Perrault, and essays on Censorship and on Incest in folklore

Snow White
Information on variants, illustrations, and criticism of the tale

Marvels and Tales
Homepage of the scholarly journal of fairy-tale studies

Brief histories of some tales, a discussion list, and links to some of Andrew Lang's collections

Willamette's Writing Center

On Writing about Literature

Online Writing Resouces

The Elements of Style

On Plagiarism and how to avoid it


Course Goals and Expectations:

This course fulfills the Interpreting Texts MOI requirement. As such, it will help you develop your skills in analyzing and understanding textual representations of human experience. We will consider the relationship between texts discussed and particular forms of culture they may express or help constitute. We will consider the form - for example, the various styles or genres - of textual communication; study various interpretive strategies and problems; examine dynamic relations among author, reader, and text; and explore whether - and if so, in what ways - texts embody cultural values.

To these ends, we will focus on some of the major literary fairy tales in the European tradition, together with some twentieth-century Anglo-American revisions of those tales. We will consider formal, psychoanalytic, historical, and feminist interpretations. We will examine the ways that narratives may transmit culturally specific values through elements such as plot, characterization, and language. We will attend to themes of class, gender, and sexuality, and will examine the ways that revisions comment upon their precursor texts.

Course Requirements:
Two papers, due Friday February 18 and Monday April 4: 25% each
Final examination, Friday May 6, 8am: 25%
Attendance, participation, homework, quizzes: 25%

If you have a documented disability for which I can make accommodation, please speak with me individually.

Your participation is vital to this class, and I invite you to suggest readings for the last weeks of class. I expect you to come to class each day having read the assigned material, having thought about it, and having questions or ideas about it. Readings not in the required texts will be available online or on reserve. In thinking about the reading assignments, you may want to consult the list of study questions. For some classes you will be asked to write down a discussion question. One quarter of your final grade (25%) will be based on participation.

You will also write two papers of about five pages (1300 words) each, one of which may be revised. Papers are due at the beginning of class Friday February 18 and Monday April 4. The optional revision is due at the time of the final examination, Friday May 6. One quarter (25%) of your final grade will be based on each essay (total of 50%).

The final examination (on which 25% of your final grade will be based) will consist of brief identifications and an essay.



Tentative Schedule of Readings

M Jan 17 Introductions
W Jan 19 Introductions, continued; quiz on syllabus; "The Story of Grandmother" (CFT 10-11)
F Jan 21 Perrault, "Little Red Riding Hood"; Brothers Grimm, "Little Red Cap" (CFT 11-16)

M Jan 24 "Hansel and Gretel" (CFT 184-190) Perrault, "Little Thumbling" (CFT 199-206)
W Jan 26 Bettleheim, "[The Struggle for Meaning]" and "Hansel and Gretel" (CFT 269- 280); Darnton, "Peasants Tell Tales" (CFT 280-291)
F Jan 28 Perrault, "Cinderella" (e-reserve); Brothers Grimm, "Cinderella [Ashputtle]" (CFT 117-122)

M Jan 31 Apuleius, "Cupid and Psyche" (e-reserve); Beaumont, "Beauty and the Beast" (CFT 32-42)
W Feb 2 Basile, "Sun, Moon, and Talia"; Perrault, "The Sleeping Beauty in the Wood"; Brothers Grimm, "Brier Rose" (e-reserve)
F Feb 4 Brothers Grimm, "The Frog King, or Iron Heinrich " (CFT 47-50), "The Marvelous Minstrel" (#8), "Rapunzel" (#12), "The White Snake" (#17), "The Maiden Without Hands" (#31), "Godfather Death" (#44), "The Juniper Tree" (#47)

M Feb 7 Tatar, "Sex and Violence: The Hard Core of Fairy Tales" (CFT 364-373)
W Feb 9 "Rumpelstiltskin" (#55), "Little Farmer" (#61), "One-Eye, Two-Eyes, and Three-Eyes" (#130), "The Jew in the Thornbush" (#110), "The Worn-Out Dancing Shoes" (#133), "Iron Hans" (#136), "The Golden Key" (#200)
F Feb 11 Aarne-Thompson, "From The Types of the Folktale"; Propp, "Folklore and Literature" (CFT 373-387)

M Feb 14 peer editing; draft of first essay due (4 copies)
W Feb 16 Brothers Grimm, "Snow White"; Gilbert and Gubar, "[Snow White and Her Wicked Stepmother]" (CFT 83-89, 291-297)
F Feb 18 First essay due; no reading assignment; video: Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs

M Feb 21 Zipes, "Breaking the Disney Spell" (CFT 332-352)
W Feb 23 Andersen, "The Little Mermaid" (CFT 216-232); Wilde, "The Fisherman and His Soul" (e-reserve)
F Feb 25 video: The Little Mermaid

M Feb 28 video, continued
W Mar 2 Sexton,Transformations, 1-34
F Mar 4 Sexton,Transformations, 35-79

M Mar 7 Sexton,Transformations, 81-112
W Mar 9 Perrault, "Bluebeard"; Brothers Grimm, "Fichter's Bird" (CFT 144-151) Atwood, "Bluebeard's Egg" (CFT 156-178)
F Mar 11 Carter, The Bloody Chamber, 7-41

M Mar 14 Carter, The Bloody Chamber, 41-67
W Mar 16 Carter, The Bloody Chamber, 68-92
F Mar 18 Carter, The Bloody Chamber, 93-126

Mar 21-25 Spring Vacation

M Mar 28 peer editing; draft of second paper due (4 copies)
W Mar 30 Barthelme, Snow White, Part One, 9-49
F Apr 1 Barthelme, Snow White, 50-89

M Apr 4 Second paper due; suggestions for final readings due
W Apr 6 Barthelme, Snow White, Part Two
F Apr 8 Barthelme, Snow White, Part Three

M Apr 11 Ferre, "Sleeping Beauty" (e-reserve)
W Apr 13 Wright, "Man of All Work" (e-reserve)
F Apr 15"The Ballad of Fa Mu Lan"; Kingston, "White Tigers" (e-reserve)

M Apr 18 Mulan
W Apr 20 SSRD
F Apr 22 Mulan continued, discussion

M Apr 25 "Yeh-hsien," Lin Lan, "Cinderella" (CFT 107-108, 127-131); Andersen, "The Princess and the Pea" http://hca.gilead.org.il/princess.html "The Little Match Girl" (CFT 233-234)
W Apr 27 Wilde, "The Selfish Giant," "The Happy Prince," "The Nightingale and the Rose" (CFT 250-265)
F Apr 29 George MacDonald, "The Light Princess" http://www.gutenberg.org/etext/697

M May 2 last day of classes, review

F May 6 8am Final Exam; optional revision due



This includes attendance, completion of quizzes, discussion questions, and peer editing of drafts, as well as class discussion. Attendance counts because you must, of course, be physically as well as mentally present in order to participate in class. I take attendance at the beginning of each class period; if you are late, your presence may not be recorded. See below for information on discussion questions and peer editing. Like those activities, good class discussion depends on your preparation, thoughtfulness, and consideration for others. Good participation includes listening to each other, asking questions, and offering your insights and responses.


Study questions

Questions to ask yourself when reading literary works for this course include these:

--How does this version of the story compare with others? What effects do the differences have?
--Are the events of the story different? That is, how does the plot compare?
--Are the places of the story different? Is the time in which the story occurs different? That is, how does the setting compare?
--Who tells the story? Is the narrative in first person or third person? Is the narrator a participant in the story?
--Whose actions do we follow? To what extent do we have access to their consciousness? That is, through whom is the story focalized?
--Are the same characters included?
--Are good and bad clearly distinct? That is, is the story's moral scheme simple? Or is it complex?
--Who are the good and bad characters? What qualities make them good or bad? That is, what qualities does the tale seem to value?
--Is good rewarded? Is evil punished? That is, does the tale present life as fair?
--What are the didactic aims, if any, of the story? That is, what lesson(s) is the story trying to teach?
--Does the story seem to be written for adults or for children? How can you tell?
--Is the tale funny? What makes it funny?
--What kind of language is used (for instance, colloquial, formal, Latinate, scientific, political)?
--Does the story use metaphors or similes? From what fields of experience are these drawn? In what ways are they apt? What effects do they have on the reader?
--What themes are important? (For instance, is sexuality menacing or empowering? Is individual or collective action stressed? Are the genders equivalent in power? What role if any does storytelling or language play within the story?)


Discussion questions

For some class meetings, you may be asked to write down a discussion question. A discussion question is one that cannot be answered simply by looking the answer up somewhere, one that does not have an obvious answer, but that must be explored and argued. It is not completely open-ended, but specifically grounded in the text. It arises from careful consideration of the reading assignment: what the text says, and how it says it. In about half a page (150 words), explain what prompted the question, what thinking went into arriving at the question, what possible answers (if any) have been considered, and why those answers are unsatisfactory. Try to frame the question itself in one brief interrogative sentence. Discussion questions must be typed, and will not be accepted late. Note that discussion questions have multiple aims: they should demonstrate to me that you are doing the reading, and they should provide you with an opportunity to reflect upon the assignment. Note, too, that "discussion questions" are distinct from "study questions."

Discussion groups will have about four members; membership will rotate. Group process will be:

1. Group members sit in a circle.
2. Each group member in turn shares her or his question. Those listening may wish to take notes.
3. When each question has been presented, group members begin responding to the questions that have been presented. This may entail brainstorming, finding and examining relevant passages in the text.
4. Discussion continues on whichever questions seem most fruitful; that is, whichever group members have the most to say about or disagree most about.
5. The group decides on one question to share with the rest of the class.
6. The group decides on a speaker for the group. The role of speaker should rotate.
7. The speaker will report the question and summarize the gist of the group's discussion of it.


Papers, Topics

You may choose any two of the following topics (do not choose the same topic twice);

a. Compare and contrast two versions of the same tale. Your central argument should acknowledge the similarities, characterize the differences, and comment on their effects. The tales should be similar enough to make the comparison relevant, and the contrasts should highlight the distinctiveness of each tale.

b. Apply a theoretical approach to a single tale. You might offer a psychoanalytic reading of Perrault's "Sleeping Beauty"-what, for instance, might Bettleheim say about the young King's willingness to leave his new bride with an ogress? Or, you might examine the extent to which Propp's functions (developed to account for folklore) help elucidate a literary fairy tale.

c. Trace a single image pattern or motif through the work of a single author or collector. For instance, what's the role of food imagery in Sexton's Transformations?

d. Write a new version of an old tale. For instance, you might retell "Cinderella" from the perspective of one of her stepsisters, or "Hansel and Gretel" in the style of Carter. Your revision should provide insight into the values, themes, or significance of the original.


Paper 1
draft due M Feb 14 (four copies)
Paper due F Feb 18 (4-5 pages or 1000-1300 words)

Paper 2
draft due M Mar 28 (four copies)
Paper due M Apr 4 (4-5 pages or 1000-1300 words)

Each essay should have a clearly-stated thesis that takes account of both conceptual and stylistic aspects of the text and relates them to each other. The thesis should be supported through quotations from the text and through analytic discussion of quoted words, phrases, and sentences. More information on how to write an essay can be found in guides to academic writing such as Sheridan Baker's Practical Stylist or the MLA Handbook. The Writing Center has several handbooks and tip sheets on writing.

In writing a new version of a tale, remember that you will be commenting on the original. Do not simply retell an existing version. You might want to consider varying the narrative point of view, the resolution of the plot, or another significant feature of the tale.

I encourage you to confer with me about your papers.

 Essay Organization:

*State your thesis clearly at the end of the first paragraph..

*Make sure each paragraph in the body of the essay has one main point, supported with evidence and analysis.

*Build from less important to more important or more complex points.

*Always revise; never turn in a first draft.

 Stylistic Tips

1. Use inclusive language (no generic "he"--try "she or he," or pluralize everything; use "humanity" instead of "mankind").

2. Use active voice ("Sandy hit the ball" instead of "The ball was hit by Sandy").

3. Keep parallel subjects (don't switch from "one" to "he or she").

4. Use present tense for discussing literature (it says the same thing every time you read it).

5. Underline titles of book-length works; put quotations around the titles of shorter works. Use neither for your own title.

6. Avoid repeatedly saying "I think" or "I believe"--it's your paper.

7. Refer to authors by their full names the first time, thereafter by last names.

8. Align the meaning of your sentence with grammatically important words--the main subject and verb should say more than "it is" or "there are."

9. If you are analyzing a text, don't evaluate it. A book review is a different genre.

10. Avoid cliches.

 Paper mechanics

1. Type or print in black on standard 8 ½ x 11 inch white paper.

2. Use 10- or 12-point font; double-space between lines; leave one-inch margins on top, sides, and bottom.

3. Number each page after the first in the upper right corner. Put your surname on each page below the number. Staple pages in the upper left corner.

4. On the upper left corner of the first page, put your name, the course number, and the date on which you are turning in the paper.

5. Give your essay an informative and interesting title, neither underlined nor put in quotation marks nor put in all capitals. Do not include a separate title page.

6. Quotations should be precise, accurately punctuated, and fully documented; include a list of Works Cited. The MLA Handbook provides further information on format (chapter 3) and documentation.

7. Proofread. Make necessary corrections neatly in ink.

8. Keep a copy. Hard copy is safer than disc.


Peer Editing

Peer editing done well is an exercise in reading and writing. Developing your skills as an editor of others' work can help you improve your own writing. Keep in mind that your role is not to "correct" a classmate's paper or serve as a copyeditor (marking grammar & punctuation). Try to offer substantive comments-especially on ideas and organization.

1. Writer, give your classmate a copy of the draft.

2. Writer, read the draft aloud while the listener follows the written text.

3. Responder, pay close attention to your reactions

× jot down notes on your copy while the writer is reading

× use a shorthand code to indicate your reactions: squiggles for negatives, stars for positives

× share what you experienced as a reader

× comment on the text not the person who wrote it

× explain what interested you-give a specific sentence, paragraph, or page that you found especially strong

× ask questions about what puzzled you; be specific to the part of the paper you are addressing

× make suggestions for strengthening the paper; be specific, but don't insist

4. Writer, take notes and thank the responder when she or he has finished.



You may revise one paper. Revisions are due no later than F May 6 at 8am (the time of the final examination).

Paper clip the revision to the copy of the original essay bearing my comments. I will not accept revisions without graded originals. A revision should be just that: a re-vision, a re-seeing and re-thinking of the original. Do not limit your changes to points on which I have commented; such limitation will severely compromise the value of the revision. The grade on the revision will replace the grade on the original essay.

With your revision, turn in a description of your revision process and of the changes you have made (about one typed page).

Some suggestions for revision:

*Reread your essay, read my comments, and think about them. Refer where necessary to a handbook of style such as the MLA Handbook or Rules for Writers (several handbooks are available in the Writing Center). If you have any questions, come talk with me.

*In revising, start with ideas, and then consider structure and style.

*Review the text that is (or the texts that are) the subject(s) of your essay. Take fresh notes on relevant passages. What is important about the passage? What else do you notice about the text?

*Put your essay aside and do some fresh writing on your topic. Write a brief summary of your thoughts on the topic. Write a response to the topic from the perspective of someone who disagrees with you. Write about the most puzzling or difficult aspects of the text.

*Think about the ideas in the essay. Can you improve your thesis? Can you add further supporting points, or develop those you have included in the original? Can you delete or strengthen weaker points? Rewrite the essay to incorporate conceptual changes.

*Consider the structure of the essay. Make an outline, writing one complete sentence summarizing each paragraph. Can you improve on the order of the points? Can you clarify the organization by combining or dividing paragraphs? Consider the rhetoric of the essay. Are the transitions between and within paragraphs clear and effective? Revise accordingly.

*Refine the prose of the essay. Read your revised draft aloud. Does each sentence say exactly what you want it to say? Can you make the prose tighter, more active, more precise? Is there continuity, flow, from sentence to sentence?

*Remember that writing and revising are recursive processes, and you may move back and forth among these activities. For instance, reorganizing the essay may prompt you to do more fresh writing. Refining the prose may lead you to new ideas.

*Get as much feedback as you can. Take your revised essay to the Writing Center, read it to a friend, bring it to me for a consultation.


Late assignments, absences

I do not accept late assignments. In exceptional circumstances I may provide an extension on a paper assignment if you speak with me individually in advance. Late papers will be returned at my convenience (that is, they may not be available for revision).

If you know in advance that you will be missing a class, write a discussion question based on the material assigned for that day, and get it to me by that class meeting: you might give it to a friend in the class to turn in for you, or you may leave it in my box in Eaton 107.

If you miss class for any reason, consult with at least two classmates about what you missed and then come to me with any additional questions you may have.


Paper Grading

A An excellent essay typically includes an outstanding thesis, thoughtful consideration of concepts and perceptive analysis of text, as well as detailed reading and cogent and graceful argument. An excellent story similarly provides an entertaining and compelling narrative that shows insight into the original as well as imaginative critique of it. Excellent papers typically use vivid, sophisticated, and graceful prose.

B A good essay typically includes a strong thesis and coherent argument, good attention to the text, and generally fine and clear prose with only occasional lapses in grammar. A good story similarly offers an engaging narrative displaying perceptive understanding of the original and commentary on it. The difference between an excellent paper and a good one lies less in what is wrong with the good paper than in what is right with the excellent one.

C A satisfactory essay typically includes a thesis that is too general or simplistic, and vague readings of the text. A satisfactory story is usually too similar to the original to provide commentary on it. Satisfactory papers typically use competent prose but are marred by consistent grammatical or organizational errors.

D A below standard essay typically has an ill-defined or ill-supported main idea, together with serious flaws in grammar, logic, or argumentation. A below-standard story typically provides an incoherent narrative or incoherent commentary on the original, in seriously flawed prose.

F A failing paper is typically one marred by plagiarism. It may also be a paper that reveals no knowledge of the text and that is written in unidiomatic English.


Individual consultations/office hours/other questions and suggestions

My regular office hours are listed at the beginning of this syllabus. Some weeks, I may need to reschedule some hours because of committee meetings or other faculty business. I will post temporary changes on my office door. Most weeks, I will have a sign-up sheet on my office door for scheduling appointments, and I will make this sign-up sheet available in class about a week before drafts of papers are due. I will be happy to meet with you individually to go over drafts or discuss your ideas for a paper. If you cannot meet with me at any of the scheduled times, contact me after class or by phone or email to set up an appointment at another time.

When you have questions about materials or assignments, please raise them in class--others may have the same questions. When you have questions or concerns about your work, or suggestions for improving the class, please come see me as soon as possible. I can answer questions, resolve problems, and make use of suggestions only if I know about them.

Suggestions for final readings: on M Apr 4 I will pass around a sheet for you to list texts that you would like to read with the class and discuss in our last weeks. If the work is not in CFT, you must supply a source-a citation or photocopy. We cannot do a book-length work (there will not be time to order the book, and it will be too much to photocopy). We can do a movie if it is available on video.



Dates, authors, regions of primary texts

c130 CE Apuleius The Golden Ass/The Metamorphoses [Roman Empire] "Cupid & Psyche"

1634-36 Giovanni Basile [Italy] Il Pentamerone or The Tale of Tales "Sun, Moon, & Talia"

1697 Charles Perrault [France] Histoires ou Contes du Temps Passe

1757 Marie-Louise LePrince de Beaumont [France] "Beauty and the Beast"

1805-75 Hans Christian Andersen [Denmark]

1812/1857 Jacob and Willem Grimm [Germany] Kinder und Hausmarchen (7 editions)

1854-1900 Oscar Wilde [Ireland/UK]

1885 "Story of Grandmother" recorded [France]

1936 Walt Disney, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs [USA]

1958 Richard Wright, "Man of All Work" [USA]

1965 Donald Barthelme, Snow White [USA]

1971 Anne Sexton, Transformations [USA]

1973 Rosario Ferre, Papeles de Pandora [ Puerto Rico] includes "Sleeping Beauty"

1976 Maxine Hong Kingston, The Woman Warrior [USA] includes "White Tigers"

1979 Angela Carter, The Bloody Chamber [UK]

1983 Margaret Atwood, "Bluebeard's Egg" [Canada]

1989 Disney Corporation, The Little Mermaid [USA]


Final examination questions Spring 2002

Note that the materials for this version of the course were somewhat different from those we are studying this term. In other words, the final examination questions themselves will be different; the format, however, will be similar.

Part I Choose six (6) of the following passages and identify each by author, title, context (including speaker) (1 point each) and analyze the significance of the passage (2 points each).

1. "In fact, she is like most artists; she is all style without any sincerity."

2. Many people came to where the Queen's soldiers stood guard beside the sealed up entrance to the mine.

3. "Get there I must," said she; and if there is any way of going I will; and I have no fear, no matter how fast you go."

4. The king was so terrified that he made over the kingdom to the soldier and gave him his daughter to wife.

5. The wolf is carnivore incarnate and he's as cunning as he is ferocious; once he's had a taste of flesh then nothing else will do.

6. "I love your heart more than your crown, and yet I feel that the crown has a fragrance of something holy about it."

7. If I took the sword, which my hate must surely have forged out of the air, and gutted him, I would put color and wrinkles into his shirt.

8. "Young I may be, but how could I spend the rest of my life full of remorse because I caused my father's death?"

9. Although, of course, the story was not as you have heard it, either.


Part II. Choose two of the following topics and write on each a clear, well-organized, and detailed essay (35 points each).

1. In Haroun and the Sea of Stories, several characters raise the question "What's the use of stories that aren't even true?" Respond to this challenge, drawing on four of the texts we have encountered, including at least one theoretical essay (Tolkien, Bettleheim, Rowe, Tatar, Zipes, Propp, Gilbert & Gubar) and two literary examples (e.g., tales by Perrault, Grimm, Andersen, Wilde).

2. Jack Zipes critiques the "saccharine sexist and illusionary stereotypes of the Disney culture industry." Consider the four films we have watched: Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (Disney 1937), Sleeping Beauty (Disney 1959), Mulan (Disney 1988), and Shrek (DreamWorks 2001). To what extent do the Disney features warrant Zipes's condemnation? Are there ways in which they do not? How does Shrek critique Disney's culture industry? Does the DreamWorks film display any evidence of itself being Disneyized?

3. Here, in its entirety, is a tale from The Wolf and His Stones (1986) by Chris Schauff:

Once upon a time there was a dwarf who got into the fairy tale by mistake. For there were already seven other dwarfs who did their work. He himself was only the eighth, and nothing was actually prepared for him. So the eighth dwarf trotted about the pages in a bad mood and did not know what to do with himself. He came to that spot where the giant was killed, and he found it completely senseless as he always had each time he had come across it. He peevishly sauntered further on until he came to the spot where the handsome prince, who was usually on his knees before the princess, was missing. The dwarf felt so embarrassed that his hair stood on its end, and he rushed away from there. When he did not encounter any of the other dwarfs along the way, he finally ran to the end of the fairy tale. There, however, the dwarf saw that they lived happily ever after. So he really became furious and trampled on the terrible words with his feet.

Is this a fairy tale? Why or why not? You'll need to explain the generic criteria on which you base your argument, drawing on at least one of the theoretical approaches we've considered. In what ways does the tale conform to the criteria you present? In what ways does it not? Comment on the usefulness and limitations of generic categorization.