University of Essex Department of Literature, Film, and Theatre Studies
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Course outline: lt363-3-fy




Year: 2007/8.

Department: Literature.

Essex credit: 30 ECTS credit: 15

Available to year(s) of study:




Course supervisor:

Professor Marina Warner

Teaching staff:

Professor Marina Warner

Contact details:

Ildiko Olah, Departmental Administrator, e-mail: iolah (Non essex users should add to create the full email address).

Course is taught during the following terms:
Autumn: yes Spring: yes Summer: yes

Maximum enrolment: 16

Course Description
Fairytale never did belong exclusively in the nursery, and the characteristic imagery, fantasy, ideas, motifs, cast of characters, plots and moods of stories known as fairy tales have provided writers with a crucial store to draw on for a huge and fascinating variety of effects. But what is fairytale? What meanings does it communicate? Why do poets and dramatists and novelists and short story writers turn to this mode of literature?
This course will attempt to answer these questions by exploring the confluence of local, European fairytale material with Middle Eastern stories entering literature in the eighteenth century; this constellation of narrative forms continues to offer writers rich imaginative possibilities for polemic and entertainment to the present day. Magic and metamorphosis define the literary genre of fairytale more than the presence of fairies, and they often act in a story as the prime tools of the imagination to open a way into other worlds.
During the first term, we will concentrate on defining the home-grown fairytale tradition by exploring Shakespeare's plays; the founding French stories, and The Arabian Nights, which was first translated from Arabic into French and English around the same time as the most influential of the French fairy tales. The theme of Orientalism will be of crucial importance, as the craze for the Nights excited imitative fantasy in English 'Gothic' fiction. There is a constant association of fairy tale with social and political critique, expressed as utopian dreams or dystopian satire. Fabulism offered a place where ideas about possibilities could be sketched out, and where benign or malign alternatives could flourish).
In the second term, the course will trace the shaping power of the genre through Romantics to the present day, looking at writings which have absorbed fairy tale's defining features and then transformed them in some of the most powerful and thrilling acts of literary imagination, including Kafka. Psychological ideas about the self developed in relation to ideas about magic, and about the power of curses and spells, and this particularly fascinated the Romantics and shaped themes of alienation in society. Fairy tales from the turn of the century engaged vividly with gender issues. There will be additional material on film and drama to give ways of thinking about the continuing lively presence of fairytale imagery and themes in culture today

Learning and Teaching Methods
Seminars Thursday 2pm to 4pm Room 5A.120

50 percent Course Work Mark, 50 percent Exam Mark

Exam Duration and Period 3:00 hour exam during Summer Examination period.

Texts will include (a definitive list will be published on the CMR by the beginning of September)

Shakespeare, Midsummer Night's Dream, Pericles, and The Tempest
The Classic Fairy Tales, ed. Maria Tatar (Norton Critical Reader, 1999)
Arabian Nights' Entertainments, ed. Robert L. Mack (Oxford World's Classic)
Horace Walpole, The Castle of Otranto, ed. Michael Gamer (Penguin Classic)
William Beckford, Vathek, ed. Roger Lonsdale (Oxford World's Classic)
Jonathan Swift, Gulliver's Travels
Voltaire, Candide
Kafka, 'Metamorphosis'; 'In the Penal Colony'
Angela Carter, The Bloody Chamber
Jeannette Winterson, The Passion

Useful preparatory reading would be Marina Warner, From the Beast to the Blonde


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