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LIT 327 The Fairy Tale

The fairy tale is a genre that seems simple, but actually reveals many of modern literatures earliest and deepest conventions. This course explores the fairy tales structures, characters, uses of narrative, and its employment of the idea of magic to explain Western ideas and debates about social order. Students will also learn a number of cultural theories that are commonly applied to the analysis of fairy tales, and how the change from the folk tale to the fairy tale gives important context to today's understanding of fiction and its uses.


4 Undergraduate credits

Effective May 5, 2015 to present

Meets graduation requirements for

Learning outcomes


  • Students can describe and recognize common tropes, characters, dilemmas, and resolutions in the fairy tale (as well as familiar combinations of these elements).
  • Students understand theories of narrative, characterization, and rhetorical style in fairy tales, and can explain how they function together to create a complete story.
  • Students can distinguish the differences between folklore and fairy tales, and articulate their cultural implications.
  • Students can explain how writing down a fairy tale changes it from a previous existence as an oral tale (folklore), and what significant impacts that has on the story.
  • Students can construct how fairy tale conventions employ tensions between self and Other, and explain how this informs the concept of the Monster/Monstrous. Students can relate these conventions to historic and contemporary conventions of behavior and misbehavior, especially in terms of gender and class.
  • Students can correlate how fairy tales are used to teach children about others (in both positive and negative ways) with how the symbolic imagination is used as a scaffold for cultural institutions such as government, religion, education, and family structure.
  • Students can construct a thesis, use scholarly and primary sources to support the thesis, and argue analytically in grammatical, correct prose at the upper-division level.

Minnesota Transfer Curriculum

Goal 6: The Humanities and Fine Arts

  • Demonstrate awareness of the scope and variety of works in the arts and humanities.
  • Understand those works as expressions of individual and human values within a historical and social context.
  • Respond critically to works in the arts and humanities.
  • Engage in the creative process or interpretive performance.
  • Articulate an informed personal reaction to works in the arts and humanities.