Small Wonders

This half-term subject will meet twice a week for the first half of the term to spring break.

This course will take a brief look at a big subject, beginning with the question: where do Fairy Tales come from? We will consider global distribution; movement from China to Middle East to Europe and back again, and go on to survey the work of the most famous of the collectors: the Brothers Grimm. How did they set about their task? Who did they collect from? How did they present their findings? Can we rely on what they tell us? We look at the structure of Fairy Tales, and the seminal work of Vladimir Propp on their deep roots in oral tradition. Then we consider meaning. Are Fairy Tales just for children, or do they have some deeper, perhaps darker, meaning? We consider Freudian interpretations by Bruno Bettelheim from his book The Uses of Enchantment. Then follow two case studies of the abuse of Fairy Tales: firstly by the Nazis in 1930s Germany; secondly, by Walt Disney in the famous series of animated movies starting with Snow White and the Seven Dwarves in 1937. Detailed study of two modern literary texts complete the course: the poem sequence “The Grimm Sisters” (1981) by Liz Lochhead and short stories by Angela Carter from her collection The Bloody Chamber and other stories (1979).