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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Hellmut H Ammerlahn
C LIT 396
Seattle Campus

Special Studies in Comparative Literature

Offered by visitors or resident faculty. Content varies.

Class description

Folktales and Art Fairy Tales of Europe: Traditions, Interpretations, and Modern Transformations.

Fairy Tales enchant children and they fascinate adults, who study their deeper meaning and the impact which they have exerted on all ages and cultures. In this course we shall first explore selected “classic” folktales through their traditions and variations, as they have been collected in Italy and France, in North- and East-European countries, and by the Brothers Grimm. Then we shall turn to literary fairy tales written by well-known authors such as Hans Christian Andersen, Johann Wolfgang Goethe, Ludwig Tieck, and Oscar Wilde and examine how and for what purpose they wrote their own “art tales.” Concentrating on the role of the imagination and the significance of the miraculous, we shall analyze recurring motifs and symbols as well as typical human and animal characteristics of fairy tales. Anthropological and psychological approaches will be employed to demonstrate their relevance for child development, for dealing with the hopes and dangers of the inner world, and for seeking personal and social integration. Finally, we shall incorporate into the discussion modern transformations of the wonder tale in selected films, operas, satire, and parody. 20th century examples of the “fractured” or “anti“- fairy tale (Franz Kafka, Angela Carter) will be covered briefly. The course concludes with the interpretation of two of the most enchanting and sophisticated works of the western fairy tale tradition.

Student learning goals

General method of instruction

Lectures, class discussions, presentations of related topics in groups of five students each.

Recommended preparation

No specific prerequisites. Careful reading of texts mandatory; active participation in class discussions encouraged.

Class assignments and grading

Participate in a 20 minute group presentation on selected other works of literature, film or opera dealing with themes of folktales or art fairy tales. In-class midterm, take-home or in-class final.

Midterm and final: 50%. Attendance, group presentation, and oral class participation: 50%


The information above is intended to be helpful in choosing courses. Because the instructor may further develop his/her plans for this course, its characteristics are subject to change without notice. In most cases, the official course syllabus will be distributed on the first day of class.
Course Descriptions
Last Update by Hellmut H Ammerlahn
Date: 02/12/2008