SWGS S-1421 When The Princess Saves Herself: Gender and Retold Fairy Tales
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Folklore has an enduring appeal in cultures across the world: so enduring that literature and media retell the stories again and again. From mass media such as Disney films to well-known novelists like Margaret Atwood and Terry Pratchett, our authors, filmmakers, and storytellers revisit, revise, and reinvent the stories we all know. When such stories are retold, they are retold to suit our current sensibilities: our children's editions of Grimm's fairy tales no longer include "The Juniper Tree" (otherwise known as "My Mother, She Killed Me, My Father, He Ate Me"); very few villains dance to death in red-hot shoes; and perhaps we even look sideways at royalty as the proper way to run a country. But nowhere is the profound influence of folk process (the way in which we each retell, change, and thus keep folklore a living thing) found more strongly than in how we portray men and women in fairy tales. Is Cinderella's "virtuous suffering" a model we wish our daughters to emulate? Must a young man be a literal prince to succeed in love? Is external beauty a reliable way to judge whether a person is good? This course introduces students to the study of male and female roles in traditional folk and fairy tales, to the study of folk process itself, and then to the particular study of how we have folk processed modern reinterpretations of those gender roles here in the United States. We read a wide variety of folk and fairy tales, and modern adaptations of the fairy tale.
Tuesdays, Thursdays, noon-3 pm
Lamont Library 240
Start dateTuesday, June 20
Keridwen N. Luis, PhD.
Lecturer on Sociology, Harvard University
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