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Peter Hess, Chair 2505 University Avenue, Burdine Hall 336, Mailcode C3300, Austin TX 78712-1802 • 512-471-4123

Spring 2010

GRC 301 • The European Folktale

Unique Days Time Location Instructor
38270 MWF
2:00 PM-3:00 PM
BUR 108

Course Description

Folktales recur in retellings across national borders and time periods in Europe and beyond, from prehistory and antiquity through today's popular culture; it can be argued that "the ability to tell a story" is one of the hallmarks of the human species. This class will focus mostly on collected folktales, but also on their literary retellings and adaptations, in printable story form (mostly prose, but occasionally in song) as well as in film and illustration. We will examine both a wide selection of collected Indo-European folktales as well as numerous perspectives for understanding, interpreting and applying these tales. We will look at the aesthetic, ethical, social, historical and psychological values that (it can be argued that) the tales reflect in themselves. In addition, we will read and discuss significant theoretical and methodological paradigms applicable to the folktales under study, including such perspectives as formalist / structuralist (Aarne & Thompson, Propp), nationalist / aesthetic (Grimm, Lang, Tolkien), mythic / archetypal (Jung, Campbell, Tolkien, Bly, Pinkola-Estés), socio-historical (Darnton, Warner, Rowe, Zipes, Tatar, Shavit), psychoanalytical / therapeutic (Bettelheim, Pinkola-Estés, Haase), and feminist / gender studies approaches (Warner, Gilbert & Gubar, Rowe, Pinkola-Estés, Bly). Throughout the course, we will be simultaneously exploring the enduring presence of folktale-derived narrative in current popular and high culture. (NOTE: If, at any time during this course, you “recognize” a story that you are more familiar with from a different, or more modern venue, tell us! This is a fun bonus.) Upon completion of this course, the 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.

Grading Policy

Attendance, Participation, Quizzes+ 10 % Tests [2 in-class examinations,* 30% each] 60% Final Exam* [Comprehensive] 30% *Tests and Exam will consist of true-false, multiple-choice, short fill-ins, picture identifications, and short essays. +You may make up a missed quiz/missed attendance TWICE (but no more) during the course of the semester by submitting a Film Report of a fairy-tale-based NON-DISNEY movie [like: Ever After (1998); Legend (1985); Ella Enchanted (2004); The Slipper and the Rose (1976); In the Company of Wolves (1984); Jack the Giant Killer (1962); Beauty and the Beast (Cocteau, 1946) and many others.]


1. COURSE PACKET at IT Copy. It's advisable to phone them first (476-6662) to tell them you’re coming - it gives them a chance to make a new copy for you off the master if they don’t currently have enough on the shelf. Buy it ASAP! The Packet includes lots of independent readings plus the main text for the course, D. L. Ashliman’s Voices from the Past anthology, which is out of print; we have permission to reprint it. (VfP in the schedule below) 2. Tatar, Maria (ed.). The Classic Fairy Tales. ISBN 03939 72771 This is usually easy to get from the Co-Op. 3. Opie, Iona & Peter (eds.). The Classic Fairy Tales. ISBN 01952 02198 Sometimes the Co-Op doesn’t order enough of this one. There are also earlier editions around – feel free to comb Half Price Books for them – but the pagination is just a little different. Many students have used these earlier editions without difficulty, though.


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