Slavic R5B, Section 2: There Once Lived a Woman: Women Writers Adapt the Fairy Tale

TuTh 8-9:30, 2070 VLSB. Instructor: Instructor TBA.

Units: 4

This course fulfills the second half, or “B” portion, of the Reading and Composition requirement.

Fairy tales tend to be a fraught place for women. If they are not witches, evil queens, stepmothers, or stepsisters, then they are often orphans, endure terrible abuse, or in a best case scenario, are simply prizes to be given away to a successful male hero right before the “happily ever after.” In twentieth century literature, many women writers have attempted to bring the fairy tale back under female control by rewriting it. These are texts in which gender roles are reversed, folklore logic is thrown into question, or women characters from classic fairy tales get to tell their side of the story. Although we will primarily focus on Slavic fairy tales and Slavic women writers, especially the short stories of Tatyana Tolstaya and Lyudmilla Petrushevskaya, we will also examine the work of several American women writers and poets, like Shirley Jackson and Anne Sexton. During this course, we will attempt to answer questions like: What is the fairy tale definition of womanhood? What happens when fairy tale types are put into a realistic setting? How does our understanding of a realistic story change when it is told like a fairy tale? How is a fairy tale different when it is told from a woman’s perspective? Together we will look at how each of these writers adapts the raw material of fairy tales, and see what that teaches us about both the fairy tales themselves and the individual writer’s goals.

The primary goal of this class is to teach college level writing and research skills. In addition to learning how to make clear, persuasive arguments in papers, we will look at both how to find outside scholarship and how it can be incorporated to support such arguments.

Most texts will be provided either online or in a course reader—however, the following novels should be purchased:

 House of Day, House of Night, Olga Tokarczuk (ISBN: 0810118920)

Baba Yaga Laid An Egg, Dubravka Ugresič (ISBN: 0802145205)

Prerequisite:  Successful completion of the “A” portion of the Reading & Composition requirement or its equivalent.  Students may not enroll in nor attend R1B/R5B courses without completing this prerequisite.