This course looks specifically at how tales are (re)written across time periods & cultures, with the “genre” being ultimately reminiscent of a form that allows for both conversation and variation.
We’ll look at “traditional” tales written by the Bros. Grimm & Perrault, et al, then compare them with contemporary versions, exploring ways in which the tradition routinely revises its characters and their narratives. Using individual tales’ formal elements, the class will design multiple tale-specific prompts and students will write their own contemporary adaptations.
The course will use one primary text—Kate Bernheimer’s My Mother She Killed Me, My Father He Ate Me—as well as supplemental materials provided by the instructor. Our weekly discussions will focus on the assigned readings and, at turns, workshop. In addition to any comments made during workshop, students will receive written feedback from the instructor for at least one draft.
Introduction: Fairytale as Form
We’ll look at tales across cultures with an eye toward how different authors—including the Brothers Grimm, Hans Christian Anderson, and Charles Perrault—form the foundation for our contemporary versions of their tales.
Breaking the Disney Spell
We’ll examine our assumptions about contemporary renderings of fairy tales and look at how authors might retain, or regain, the surprise and grit Disney versions so often removed.
We’ll explore the nuances and differences between myth and fairytales.
The Fairy Tale Outside of Story
We’ll look at nontraditional forms for presenting narrative as well as the ways fairytales help distinguish “fictions” from “stories”
The Tale after the Tale
We’ll discuss fictions focused on fairytale characters’ lives as they exist after the events of their original tale.
Fairytale as Revision
We’ll read from the tales we’ve written during the course, discuss the ways in which the fairytale form inherently lends itself as a guide for revision, and examine methods of change and transformation specific to the drafts we’ve written.