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Unit information: The Fairy Tale in English in 2015/16

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Unit name The Fairy Tale in English
Unit code ENGL20028
Credit points 20
Level of study I/5
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Unit director Dr. Cathy Hume
Open unit status Not open




School/department Department of English
Faculty Faculty of Arts

Description including Unit Aims

The unit will survey the fairy tale in English from the 19th to the 21st century. We will survey the first translations of fairy tale collections - of Perrault, the Grimms, and the Arabian Nights – and explore the context of the huge popularity of these tales in 19th century England. We will go on to investigate their early reception and influence, including on novels and tales written in English, before moving on to 20th and 21st century rewritings. We will also spend some time on screen adaptations and their cultural impact. Detailed consideration will be given to a range of critical approaches including structuralist, psychoanalytical, feminist and Marxist readings. Close readings, comparing the language and emphasis of different versions of the same story, will also be central to the unit.

Intended Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this unit students will have

(1) developed a detailed knowledge of the fairy tale as an oral and literary form;

(2) developed a critical understanding of the reception of the fairy tale in English, from early translations to literary fairy tales to novels and films;

(3) acquired an understanding of major critical approaches including structuralism, psychoanalysis, feminist and Marxist approaches;

(4) demonstrated their ability to analyse and compare fairy tale texts;

(5) strengthened their skills in academic writing, argumentation, and evaluation of evidence from primary texts and critical literature.

Teaching Information

1 x 2-hour seminar per week.

Assessment Information

  • 1 essay of 2000 words (40%)
  • 1 essay of 3000 words (60%)

The 2000 word summative essay assesses ILOs 1-2 and 4-5; the 3000 word summative essays assesses all ILOs.

Reading and References

Peter and Iona Opie, The Classic Fairy Tales (Oxford University Press, 1980)

Philip Pullman, Grimm Tales for Young and Old (Penguin, 2012)

Richard Burton, tr., The Thousand Nights and One Night (any edition)

Bruno Bettelheim, The Uses of Enchantment: the Meaning and Importance of Fairy Tales (Thames and Hudson, 1976)

Marina Warner, From the Beast to the Blonde: on Fairy Tales and their Tellers (Vintage, 1995)