Introduction to Literature: Genre

Why wonder? How does wonder feel, and why is it important? What are the transformative capacities of experiencing wonder? What makes a story a “wonder tale”? How are these different from fairy tales, fables, or other magical stories? 

Over the course of the semester, we will consider these and other questions as we explore an array of wonder tales—both historical and contemporary—and probe the limits and uses of the genre. 

Assignments* will include: 

  • Weekly reading responses, approx. 250-300 words
  • 2 essays, 1500 words each
  • 1 group presentation, approx. 15 min
  • 1 short reflective paper, approx. 500-1000 words

 Course Texts*:

  • “Sealskin, Soulskin” (Clarissa Pinkola Estés. PDF)
  • “The Story of Mahliya and Mauhub and the White-Footed Gazelle. It Contains Strange and Marvelous Things.” (Translated by Malcolm C. Lyons. PDF) 
  • “The Tale of Mahliya and Mauhub and the White-Footed Gazelle” (Sofia Samatar. PDF)
  • “Of No Real Account” (Bryan Kamaoli Kuwada, PDF)
  • Selections from What Is Not Yours Is Not Yours Helen Oyeyemi, PDF)
  • Selections from Women Writing Wonder (ed. Anne E. Duggan, PDF)
  • Additional readings TBD. 

Tentative Course Films*:

  • Song of the Sea (Tomm Moore, 2014)
  • Pan’s Labyrinth (Guillermo Del Toro, 2006)
  • Beasts of the Southern Wild (2012) or Wendy (2020) (both directed by Benh Zeitlin)

*Subject to change