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Once Upon a Time? The Immortal Lure of Fairy Tales

HUMN 9 is an interdisciplinary exploration into the wondrous, magical, decadent global forest of fairy tales, understanding their origins and continued relevance in modernity, how they reflect current societal and cultural norms and values.

HUMN 9 examines fairy tales as beloved yet controversial conduits of meaning that for many lead us through childhood, inspiring and shaping our personal identity and concepts of gender and sexuality.

Together, we will investigate the personal and collective influence of fairy tales that remains into adulthood, populating contemporary art, films, graphic novels, comics, and gaming as a form of known symbolic language.

We will consider classic European fairy tales as a learned basis for speaking this metaphoric language and examine worldwide contemporary variants of these stories and their thematic elements, tracing their impact on science fiction, fantasy, dystopia, and horror. The ongoing popularity and impact of fairy tales tell us that something vital to the human experience is happening in these stories.

Class discussions, analyses, writing, and viewings involve a diverse spectrum of global fairy tales and their re-versionings from collectors, authors, scholars, filmmakers, and artists of all kinds such as Angela Carter, Hayao Miyazaki, and Marjorie Liu.

Your interdisciplinary Humanities adventure through fairy tales awaits, offering lifelong, lasting significance and reward!

Course Objectives

  • Communicate varied definitions of the fairy tale and the reasons for fluidity in defining the genre in relation to global interdisciplinary scholarship.
  • Articulate personal knowledge of classic Western and major global fairy tales as foundational building blocks of learned analysis, conversation, and education.
  • Analyze fairy tale themes as reflections of cultural mores, class distinctions, gender roles, and markers of national, ancestral, and personal identity.
  • Examine fairy tales and their modern film and media adaptations with awareness and sensitivity to ethnic, gender, and sexual orientation and self-identification.
  • Identify fairy tale elements in film and gaming as universal, archetypal characters, landscapes, themes, and/or events.
  • Investigate the strategies filmmakers use to adapt fairy tales to depict and shape the contemporary human experience.
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Questions? Contact Me!

Dr. Mona Rawal, Humanities Department Chair