The Fairy Tale

The “fairy tale” is a genre we may think we know from childhood memories, but this course is an introduction to
its history and multiple social uses, of which the Disneyfied fairy tale is only a recent episode. With the adaptation of oral tales of magic into print, especially from the XVII century on, fairy tales became established as a western modern literary genre that continues to be popular across national boundaries. In these different contexts, fairy tales have offered an imaginative outlet for desire and change while also performing socializing functions. How has a story like “Rapunzel” or “Puss in Boots” changed over the centuries? When did fairy tales become bedtime stories for children? What interests feminist and postcolonial authors in the fairy tale? Is “happily ever after” the signature mark of this genre? How do fairy tales enchant us? These are some of the questions we will explore while reading a wide range of tales that may break some “magic spells” but also enliven our capacity for wonder in new ways.

Requirements: assignments include an oral presentation, quizzes, several short papers, a midterm, and a final examination. Attendance is mandatory.

Texts: Jack Zipes, editor, THE GREAT FAIRY TALE TRADITION; Marina Warner, editor, WONDER TALES; Carlo Collodi (trans. Canepa), PINOCCHIO; Angela Carter, THE BLOODY CHAMBER; at least two fairy-tale films.