Russian Fairy Tales

RUSS 047/LITR 047R
Spring 2008
MWF 10:30­11:20
Kohlberg 334
Swarthmore College

Sibelan Forrester Office Hours:
Kohlberg 340 M. 9:30-10:20
610-328-8162 (office) T. 10:00-11:00
sforres1@swarthmore.edu W. 9:30-10:20
www.swarthmore.edu/Humanities/sforres1/ …or by appointment

readings | Assignments | Syllabus

As readers and listeners, film viewers, and perhaps children of parents who told us bedtime stories, we may consider fairy tales somehow “natural,” simple, comforting in their familiarity. Like any kind of folklore, however, traditional tales and their literary adaptations become vastly more satisfying if we approach them with tools that reveal the richness and complexity of their contents and functions. Acquiring those tools, plus the background knowledge needed to use them critically, will be our business in this course.

Why are fairy tales so pleasing? What do we think we already know about them? What do they offer to modern artists and adaptors? What can we learn from them, and what can the ways we read them teach us about ourselves?



Required texts, in Bookstore:

On reserve in McCabe:



Assignments:


The grade break-down:

Attendance and participation: 20%
Original fairytale and midterm exam questions: 10%
Midterm exam: 10%
Two oral in-class presentations: 20%
"Theory" paper: 15%
"Adaptation" paper: 10%
Final examination: 15%


Acknowledgments of ideas and materials: David J Birnbaum (University of Pittsburgh), Helena Goscilo (University of Pittsburgh), Konstantin K Loginov (Russian Academy of Sciences, Karelian Affiliate), Irina A Razumova (Petrozavodsk State Pedagogical University, Russia), the late Felix J. Oinas (Indiana University)

SYLLABUS

WEEK TWO | WEEK THREE | WEEK FOUR | WEEK FIVE | WEEK SIX | WEEK SEVEN | WEEK EIGHT | WEEK NINE | WEEK TEN | WEEK ELEVEN | WEEK TWELVE | WEEK THIRTEEN | WEEK FOURTEEN | FINAL EXAM


The primary sources for our work are the folk tales in Afanas'ev’s volume. I won't assign them all individually, but expect you to have read the whole book (to p. 656) by the end of the fourth week of class.

WEEK 1

January 21
Introduction to syllabus and topic; "the Folk" in Russia [Lecture notes]

January 23
Russian paganism; deities and festivals; terminology Lecture Notes

January 25
Domestic and nature spirits; genres of Russian folklore; Folklore as an academic discipline [Lecture Notes]


WEEK 2

January 28
The style of folk tales [Lecture Notes]

January 30
Saints and devils; folk versus fairy tales [Lecture Notes]

February 1
Sorcery and healing; shrieking [Lecture Notes]


WEEK 3

Guest Lecture on reading Russian icons: Professor David Birnbaum, University of Pittsburgh

February 6
Psychoanalytic approaches to fairy tales: Freudian (Bettelheim), Jungian (Maria-Luise von Franz), Self Theory (Sheldon Cashdan) [Lecture Notes]
Original fairy tale due (at least 2 pages, double-spaced)

February 8
"Youngest Child" tales; "Ivan Durak" ("Ivan the Fool") or "Ivanushka Durachok" ("Little Ivan the Little Fool") [Lecture Notes]


WEEK 4

February 11
Mussorgski, "Night on Bald Mountain"; Film clip: Disney, Fantasia (1940); the authorship of folklore [Lecture Notes]

February 13
Typologies of tales; "Two Sibling" tales [Lecture Notes]

February 15
"Animal Bride" and "Animal Groom" tales; Cocteau, La Belle et la Bête (1946); Disney, Beauty and the Beast (1991); Adamson/Jenson, Shrek (2001) [ Lecture notes]


WEEK 5

February 18
More on "Animal Bride" and "Animal Groom" tales; shamanism [Lecture Notes]

February 20
Feminism and fairytale scholarship [Lecture Notes]

February 22
More on feminist approaches; "Bad Wife" tales; "Wise Maiden" tales; riddles [Lecture Notes]


WEEK 6

February 25
Strong heroines (or not)
Two questions for midterm exam due

[Lecture Notes]

February 27
More on feminist approaches to fairy tales [Lecture Notes]

February 29
Comparative mythology; review of psychoanalytic textual analysis [Lecture Notes]


WEEK 7

March 3
Cinderella tales; Self Theory looks at Envy; Zolushka (music and film clip) [Lecture Notes]

March 5
Wicked stepmothers; film clip from Disney, Cinderella (1950) Lecture Notes]

March 7
Wicked stepmothers [Lecture Notes]


Spring Break


WEEK 8

March 17
Classic Villains: Baba Yaga and Koshchey the Deathless [Lecture Notes]

March 19
Russian Formalism; Structuralist approaches to fairytales [Lecture Notes]

March 21
Proppian analysis in practice [Lecture Notes]


WEEK 9

March 24
"Censored tales" [Lecture notes]

March 26
Folklore and linguistics; semiotics and verbal archeology [Lecture Notes]
Analytical paper due (10 pages)

March 28
Epics and byliny; bogatyrs; varieties of folk humor [Lecture Notes]-->


WEEK 10

March 31
Snow White Tales; Disney, clip from Snow White (1937) [Lecture Notes]

April 2
Jungian interpretations of evil; favorite villains; more on Snow White tales [Lecture Notes]

April 4 Sleeping Beauty tales; Sleeping Beauty (ballet) [Lecture Notes]-->


WEEK 11

April 7 Literary fairy tales; Ostrovskii, "The Snow Maiden" [Lecture Notes]

April 9
Sorcery and magic; literary horror tales [Lecture Notes]-->

April 11
Fairy tales in Verse; Pushkin and his nanny (the Superfluous Man vis-à-vis the Folk?) [Lecture Notes


WEEK 12

April 14 More on the Russian literary fairy tale; censorship and Aesopian language [Lecture Notes]

April 16
Folk and fairy tales to amuse or improve children; other distortions [Lecture Notes]

April 18
Tsvetaeva, The Ratcatcher [Lecture Notes]-->

WEEK 13

April 21
Marxist criticism; "vulgar" Marxist criticism [Lecture Notes]

April 23 Self Theory looks at Magical Objects; Review psychological approaches to fairy tales [Lecture Notes]

April 25
Zamyatin and Lem: Fairy-Tales and Science Fiction as social critique
[Lecture Notes]

Five-page examination paper due


WEEK 14

April 28
Tatyana Tolstaya; Mythical birds
[Lecture Notes]

April 30
Nina Sadur [Lecture Notes]

May 1
Discussion, review; any remaining oral presentations
Hand out final exam


Final take-home exam due to me (on paper!) outside Kohlberg 340 by the end of exam period (May 15).



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