ANT 310L • The European Folktale
10:00 AM-11:00 AM
Folktales recur in retellings across national borders and time periods in Europe and beyond, from antiquity through today's popular culture. This class will focus on folktales and their retellings, both in story-form and as film and illustration. We will examine both a wide selection of Indo-European folktales as well as numerous perspectives for understanding these folktales. We will also look at the aesthetic, social, historical, and psychological values that (it can be argued that) these tales reflect in themselves. In addition, we will discuss significant theoretical and methodological paradigms in the field of folklore and folktale studies, including formalist/structuralist (Aarne & Thompson, Propp), nationalist (Grimm, Lang), mythic/archetypal (Jung, Campbell), aesthetic (Tolkien), socio-historical (Darnton), psychoanalytical (Bettelheim), and feminist (Warner) perspectives. Finally, we will explore the enduring presence of folktale-derived narrative in current popular culture. Upon completion of this course, the successful student should be familiar with a variety of Indo-European folktales, be able to discuss several approaches to studying them, be able to identify the most important motifs of these tales, be familiar with some of the most influential folklorists, writers and editors of the tales, and be able to assess the significance of folktales for contemporary western culture.
The class presupposes no prior work in folklore or the folktale; it is intended to introduce students to a fascinating, multicultural set of texts, and to ask questions about folk culture, oral tradition, and story-telling that continue to interest anthropologists, literary scholars, linguists and the general public.