Close Reading Cinderella
In this opening section of the course, weâ€™ll read the Brothers Grimmâ€™s â€œAschenputtelâ€ alongside Charles Perraultâ€™s â€œCinderellaâ€ to get a sense of the contours of the tale as itâ€™s influenced Anglo-American culture.Â Guided in part by structural folklore studies (the Aarne-Thompson taxonomy and Vladimirâ€™s Proppâ€™s work), weâ€™ll then use this context to understand the contribution of different versions of â€œCinderella.â€
A Grimm Nation
Weâ€™ll then turn to early nineteenth-century Germany, the period during which Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm collected and published the tales and the period during which Germany began to organize itself into a version of the politically unified nation we know today.Â Using the ideas of political scientists Ernest Gellner and Benedict Anderson, weâ€™ll think about how individual tales influence, complicate, or even subvert a dawning sense of German national identity and/or nationalism.
From nineteenth-century Germany weâ€™ll cross the Channel to Britain, where poets and novelists extended the Grimms preliminary efforts to bring fairy tales from the realm of the â€œfolkâ€ to that of the â€œliteraryâ€ by inventing new ones.Â Each of you will investigate the context for a particular tale or set of tales from this period, doing independent research to learn about the Victorians and their fairy tales.Â Weâ€™ll use psychoanalytic and Marxist theory to help us understand some of the ways these literary texts reflect, respond to, and even challenge or subvert their cultural and ideological surroundings.Â Youâ€™ll present your research to the class in a formal presentation at the end of the semester.
Angela Carterâ€™s The Bloody Chamber is, some have argued, a radical feminist re-telling of several traditional fairy tales.Â Now experts in those tales, youâ€™ll review such claims and Carterâ€™s stories themselves.