C LIT 252 A: Introduction to Comparative Literature: Genres

Spring 2022
TTh 12:30pm - 2:20pm / CDH 109
Section Type:
Joint Sections:
Marianne Stecher-Hansen
Syllabus Description (from Canvas):

SCAND 232: Hans Christian Andersen and the Fairy Tale.  

Spring 2022:  This course is taught in-person.

Professor Marianne Stecher-Hansen (marianne@uw.edu), Department of Scandinavian Studies.

Teaching Assistant, MA-student: Ian Gwin  (iangwin@uw.edu)

Course Description:  Why do we love fairy tales? Where do fairy tales come from?   This course will focus on the figures of the storyteller and the child in the fairy tale, particularly in the tales of Hans Christian Andersen.  Who are the storytellers, the authors, and the narrators of the fairy tales?   Is the role gendered? Were storytellers traditionally men or women?  Is the storyteller a performer or an author of literature working in a particular genre?  Who was Hans Christian Andersen and what was his relationship to Danish storytelling roots?

We will also explore the figure and the function of the child in the fairy tale.  Is the child the subject of the fairy tale or the audience for the fairy tale?   Does the fairy tale seek to appeal to the emotional or experiential world of the child?  Who is the intended audience or readership of the fairy tale?

We will begin the quarter by looking at some of the classic or internationally known fairy tales, such as “The Little Red Riding Hood,” “Hansel and Gretel,” “Snow White,” “Cinderella” and “Donkey Skin.”  We will consider the storyteller and the child figures in these texts.  We will also explore various critical and theoretical approaches that have been used to interpret fairy tales as an important aspect of culture and literature.  Next, the investigation turns to the the origins and authorship of the folk fairy tale, especially the relationship between the variants of these tales attributed to Charles Perrault and the Brothers Grimm.  What are the origins of the literary fairy tale?  Were fairy tales written for children as an audience or readership or about children as objects of entertainment?  Why are poor and helpless girls and boys often the subjects of fairy tales?  How are the relationships between parents and children depicted in fairy tales? 

In the second half of the course, we will engage a closer study of the child and the storyteller in relation to some of Hans Christian Andersen’s ‘masterpiece’ fairy tales. Do Hans Christian Andersen’s tales develop and reinvent the idea of the child and the entire concept of children’s literature in the 19th century?  We will delve into readings of the famous tales, such as “The Little Mermaid,” “The Snow Queen,” “The Ugly Duckling,” “The Shadow” and “The Little Match Girl.”  We will be studying these fairy tales in relation to literary and cultural history, social contexts, and the author’s life story and examine some of the predominant concerns in Andersen’s tales.

Required Books to purchase  (University Bookstore):

  1. Hans Christian Andersen, Fairy  Tales, trans. Tiina Nunnally (Penguin, 2004). ISBN: 0 14 30.3952 0
  2. Maria Tatar, ed., The Classic Fairy Tales. Second Norton Critical Edition (Norton, 2017). ISBN: 0-393-97277-1

Student Learning Objectives:

  1. To practice the skill of daily “deep reading” (i.e. 30 minutes of uninterrupted reading of hard copy text – ideally, without electronic devices present; highlighting with pen or pencil…)
  2. To exercise critical writing skills in order to address topics in the arts, culture, literature, and society.
  3. To acquire knowledge in order to identify genres (the fairy tale, the folk tale)  as well as forms of narration.
  4. To improve skills for speaking and writing about literary texts and other media.
  5. To optimize educational opportunities for intellectual community building.

Evaluation:  Grades will be based on two exams (including objective and essay questions) and two  short essays  as well as contributions to regular online "Discussions."

20%                 Participation in six online 'Discussions'  (150 words each) & one peer-review

20%                 Peer-reviewed short essay #1     

20%                 Peer-reviewed short essay #2 (due May 28th)

10%               Midterm quiz (May 17th) 

30%                Final Test, online, timed - (June 3rd to June 5th)

Writing Assignments:  SCAND 232 is not a W (Writing) course, although student writing is important.  Ad Hoc W (Writing) credit is not available for this course.  Please make an appointment with the Odegaard Writing and Research Center for help with the short essays: https://depts.washington.edu/owrc .  Please see UW policy on plagiarism. 

Reading  and Lecture Schedule:

FT (Fairy Tales by H.C. Andersen)

CFT (The Classic Fairy Tales, ed. Maria Tatar)

Week #1:   Introduction/Telling Tales/Introducing H.C. Andersen

Tu March 29:

READ FT (Fairy Tales): "The Princess on the Pea," and “The Little Match Girl”

Thu March 31:

READ FT (Fairy Tales): "The Little Mermaid" and  “The Collar”

READ CFT (Classic Fairy Tales):  Maria Tatar “Introduction: Hans Christian Andersen” (278-283);

READ (on Canvas):  Jens Andersen, “Where do Fairy Tales come from?”  

DO: Discussion online #1

Week #2: Folk Origins & Authorship: Children Tales? 

Tu April 5: “Little Red Riding Hood”

READ (CFT): “Introduction, Little Red Riding Hood (5 – 14); “The Story of Grandmother” (14 – 16); Charles Perrault, “Little Red Riding Hood” and Brothers Grimm, “Little Red Cap” (16 – 18).

READ (on Canvas): Shavit, “The Concept of Childhood – The case of Little Red Riding Hood” (317 – 323). 

READ (CFT): Jack Zipes, “Breaking the Disney Spell” (414 – 420) [first part of article].

Thu April 7: “Hansel and Gretel”

READ CFT:  Grimm brothers, “Hansel and Gretel” (236 – 241); READ CFT: Donald Haase, “Yours, mine, or ours?  Perrault, The Brothers Grimm, and Ownership of Fairy Tales” (435 – 46).   READ (on Canvas): Danish folk-tale, “The Pancake House.”

DO:  Discussion online #2

Week #3: Feminist Readings:  “Snow White” and the Disney Fairy Tale film

Tu April 12:

READ CFT:  “Introduction: Snow White” (84 – 92); Grimm, “Snow White” (95 -102);

Grimm, “Briar Rose” (Sleeping Beauty) (130 -133). READ CFT: Susan Gubar & Sandra Gilbert, “Snow White and Her Wicked Stepmother” (387 – 393).

Thu April 14:

READ CFT: Jack Zipes: “Casting the Commodity Spell with Snow White,” (427 – 435) and Maria Warner, “The Old Wives’ Tale” (405 – 414).

WATCH: Walt Disney animation, “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” (1937).  

Do: Discussion online #3 – See prompts for Essay #1

Week #4 : Ancient “Cinderella” and "Donkey Skin" – Tale types

Tu April 19:

READ CFT: “Introduction: Cinderella” (139-145); Brothers Grimm, “Cinderella” (148-153); READ (on Canvas): Charles Perrault, Cinderillla, or The Little Glass Slipper.”

READ (CFT): Hans-Jorg Uther, from "The Types of International folk tales" (491-497)

Thu April 21:

READ CFT: Charles Perrault, “Donkey-skin” (154-162). 

READ CFT: “Yeh-hsien” (146- 148) and “Lin Lan” [Cinderella] (171-175); Optional READ (on Canvas): Jameson, “Cinderella in China.”

WATCH (in-class): Walt Disney flip clips:  “Cinderella” (1950)

DUE Sat. April 23: Essay #1 and peer-review

Week #5: From Folktale Types to Literary Fairy Tales: National Romanticism

Tu April 26: 

READ (on Canvas): Asbjornsen & Moe, "The Companion"; READ (FT): H.C. Andersen, "The Traveling Companion."

READ (CFT): Vladimir Propp, "From Folklore and Literature" (498 - 502).

Th April 28: (Guest Lecture by Ian Gwin): Baltic Folk Fairy Tales, 'Structuralism' and more about Tale Typologies.

READ:  "Types of the Folktale"  Aarne, Thompson "Types of the Folktale." p. 491 -7 , in The Classic Fairy Tales
READ: Introduction and De Beaumont, "Beauty and the Beast," in Classic Fairy Tales, pp. 30 - 50; and "The Adder's Bride" (Jānis Roze, tr. by Kaija Straumanis) [on Canvas]

Week #6:  Nordic and Baltic Folktales; Propp's Model.

Tu May 3: (Guest Lecture by Ian Gwin)

READ:  Propp from "Morphology of the Folktale," 502 -507 in The Classic Fairy Tales; and  "Fearless and the Devils" (Jānis Roze, tr. by Kaija Straumanis) [on Canvas].

Do: online Discussion #4

Thu May 5:  Andersen and Old Folktales Retold.

READ (on Canvas):  H.C. Andersen, “Clod Hans – An Old Folktale Retold” and Asbjornsen & Moe, “The Princess who always had to have the Last World.”

Review for Midterm (Study Guide is posted in Modules)

Week #7:  Un-Disneyfied and Queer Andersen; Tales of Alterity

Tu May 10 - class cancelled due to illness.

READ (FT) on your own: H.C. Andersen, “The Little Mermaid” and “The Steadfast Tin Soldier”

READ (on Canvas): Jens Andersen, “The Men of Romanticism" and short biography of H.C. Andersen.

Thu May 12 - class cancelled due to illness.

READ (FT) on your own: Andersen, “The Ugly Duckling”

WATCH on your own: entire film, Young Andersen (2005) [on Canvas]

DO: Discussion online #5

 Week #8:  Speaking Truths to Power, Romanticism and ‘FROZEN’

Tu May 17.

Midterm Quiz (in-class: 30 minutes).

Discussion of "The Ugly Duckling" and "The Steadfast Tin Soldier" (and film 'Young Andersen')

Th May 19. 

READ (FT):  Andersen, “The Emperor’s New Clothes”; “The Nightingale” and “The Snow Queen.” 

WATCH (clips on Canvas): Disney’s Frozen.

READ (Canvas): Jens Andersen, "The Culture of Childhood"

Guest-lecture by Dr. Collin Connors on production & reception of  FROZEN II.

Do: Discussion online #6

Week #9:

"The Snow Queen" - Gothic and “Uncanny” Andersen – 

Tu May 24:

READ (FT): Andersen, "The Snow Queen" and "The Shadow."

Th May 26:

READ (FT): Andersen, "The Red Shoes," - and “The Girl Who Trod on the Loaf" (in Classic Fairy Tales).

DUE: Saturday, May 28th: Essay #2 (no peer-review)

Week #10: 

Tu 31 May: Death and the Dying Child

READ (FT): Andersen, “The Story of a Mother" and “The Wood Nymph”

Thu 2 June: Looking Glass into the Future:  Andersen’s Science Fiction - Last Lecture!

READ (FT): “The Wood Nymph” and Read (On Canvas): “In a Thousand Years’ Time" & "H.C. Orsted and Science"

June 3 - 5:  Final exam (online)

online Final Exam  (Timed 2-hour; Open-book; short answer questions)

online course evaluations.


Have a great summer break!


 Religious Accommodations Policy: Washington state law requires that UW develop a policy for accommodation of student absences or significant hardship due to reasons of faith or conscience, or for organized religious activities. The UW’s policy, including more information about how to request an accommodation, is available at Religious Accommodations Policy (https://registrar.washington.edu/staffandfaculty/religious-accommodations-policy/) (Links to an external site.). Accommodations must be requested within the first two weeks of this course using the Religious Accommodations Request form (https://registrar.washington.edu/students/religious-accommodations-request/) (Links to an external site.).”


Catalog Description:
Reading and analyzing literature based upon rotating genres such as sci-fi, detective fiction, romance, love, poetry, and comedy. Draws from world literature.
Department Requirements Met:
Pre-req to Declare Literature Major
GE Requirements Met:
Arts and Humanities (A&H)
Last updated:
May 19, 2024 - 6:06 pm