Myths Fairy Tales and Fantasy Fiction

GMST 180 Spring 2016
Tuesday 4:30-7:20pm HSD A240
Fairy Tales
Fantasy Fiction
Instructor: Elena Pnevmonidou
Office: Cle D256
Tel.: 721-7324
Email: [email protected]
Office Hours: Tuesday 12:00-13:00
Thursday 16:00-17:00 (Or by appointment)
Course Description
In this course, you will be introduced to some of the most important Germanic mythologies, heroic and
chivalric epics of the Middle Ages, the fairy tales of the Brothers Grimm, Romantic gothic tales, and
contemporary fantasy. The course does present an overview of the historical origins and development of
Germanic myths and tales, our emphasis will be on understanding their enduring relevance and continuing
impact on our cultural and popular imagination today. To that end, the original myths and tales we
explore in the course will always be juxtaposed with examples from popular culture such as film, music
and art. Topics covered in this class include: The figure of the Germanic hero and the heroic quest; the
chivalric code of ethics, adventure and the quest for the Holy Grail; the narrative structure of the fairy
tale, the origin and evolution of the tales of the Brothers Grimm and their adaptation and significance in
contemporary popular culture, fairy tale ogres and helpers, male vs. female heroes, children vs. adults as
readers of fairy tales; science and sorcery in the Gothic tale, fantasy and the search for a mythic quest in
the post-modern world.
By the end of this course, you will have a good basic knowledge of the characteristic features of Germanic
mythology and tales, and you will also have acquired the skills with which to read myths and tales
produced in contemporary popular culture.
Required Texts
In the bookstore: Michael Ende, The Neverending Story
On Course Spaces: Please consult the course syllabus for readings posted on Course Spaces for any
given week
Course Evaluation
2 Multiple Choice Tests (20% each)
1 Written Assignment
Final Multiple Choice Exam
Grade Scheme
90-100 A+
85-89 A
80-84 A-
77-79 B+
73-76 B
70-72 B-
65-69 C+
60-64 C
50-59 D
0-49 F
To familiarize yourself with the UVic grading guidelines, please consult the University Calendar.
GMST 180 Spring 2016
Week 1
• Overview of the course
• Concept definition: The Heroic
o The Germanic hero
o Heroic battle
o The social and moral configurations of a heroic narrative
o The tragic and the heroic
• Origins and overview of Germanic mythology
• Overview of the Nibelungenlied: origins, sources and the Middle High German epic
The “Hildebrandslied” (Course Spaces)
Week 2
The Nibelungenlied and the Heroic
The Nibelungenlied as a foundational national Germanic myth
Siegfried and Hagen – the quintessential Germanic heroes
Kriemhild and Brunhild – the quintessential Germanic women
The heroic value system
Love, loyalty, betrayal in the heroic narrative
Excerpts from Die Nibelungen (dir. Fritz Lang, 1924)
The Nibelungenlied excerpts (Course Spaces)
Week 3 & 4
Chivarlic Arthurian Legends in the German Context
for Weeks 3 & 4
Arthurian legends in the German context
The Germanic hero vs. The Arthurian knight
Heroic battle vs. Adventure
The Germanic heroic woman vs. The chivalric damsel
Love and the chivalric code of ethics
The Holy Grail
Arthurian knights in the German context: Erec, Iwein, Tristan, Parzival
The Heroic and Chivalric in contemporary pop culture: Game of Thrones
Screenings for Weeks 3 & 4
Excerpts from
Excalibur (1981)
Parsifal (1982)
Reading for Weeks 3 & 4
Wolfram von Eschenbach, Parzival excerpts (Course Spaces)
Week 5
The Grimms’ Fairy Tales as We (Think) We Know them
• The Brothers Grimm
• The evolution of the Children’s and Household Tales
• The plot elements of a fairy tale
• The geography of a fairy tale
• Fairy tale heroes
Walt Disney’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarves (1937)
Readings (Course Spaces)
Little Red Riding Hood
Snow White
Week 6
Week 7
Grimms’ Ogres
• The fairy tale villains: Themes and typology
• Reading Ogre narratives with Propp: Magic and the “Helpers”
• The psychoanalytic/developmental reading of “Ogre” tales
Excerpts from the TV series Grimm: “La Llorona” (Season 2, episode 4)
Readings (Course Spaces)
The Tale of the Juniper Tree
Hansel and Gretel
Hans My Hedgehog
Week 8
Fairy Tale Heroines and Tricksters
The “Morals” of the tales
Plot structure of tales with female protagonists
Bad girls vs. good girls
The social underdogs in the fairy tales
The “stupid” villains
The figure of the trickster: What is the moral lesson?
Excerpts from Once Upon a Time and The Brothers Grimm
Readings (Course Spaces)
The Girl with No Hands
Fitcher’s Bird (Bluebeard)
The Devil with the Three Golden Hairs
The Brave Tailor
Week 9
“The Wolf Trap: Into the Woods with Fairy Tales”
Week 10
The Gothic Tale I: Towards (Romantic) Fantasy
The Romantic fairy tale
The Uncanny
Tales without a happy ending
Locating the tale in the modern world
Excerpts from Lord of the Rings
Readings (Course Spaces)
Ludwig Tieck, “The Elves”
Week 11
The Gothic Tale II: Faerie’s Revenge
The scientist as the new ogre
Science and/as magic
The tragic poet and the automaton
Grotesque Fairy in the modern world
Blade Runner
E.T.A. Hoffmann, “The Sandman” (Course Spaces)
Neil Gaiman, “Sandman” excerpts (Course Spaces)
Week 12 & 13
Fantasy Fiction Today
Fantasy as a hybrid between myth and fairy tale
What is narrative? What is storytelling?
The Hero and the Quest today
The Neverending Story
Reading for Week 12 & 13
Michael Ende, The Neverending Story (bookstore)
Written Assignment Due on March 31
Course Work
Class attendance is required unless you can provide a documented medical reason. You are also expected to
have done the assigned readings for the day they have been assigned.
Midterm Tests and Final Exam
In this course, you will write two midterms. Both midterms are multiple-choice and will be available on Course
Spaces on the respective date. They are based entirely on the readings and class lectures and cover the material
from the previous weeks. Midterm I (Feb. 2) covers the materials from Weeks 1-4, and midterm II (March 8) is
exclusively devoted to the fairy tales of the Brothers Grimm. The final exam is also multiple-choice, but unlike
the midterms, it is cumulative.
Written Assignment
You have to write a max. 4-page assignment on any one of the myths or tales covered in the class. The
assignment is to include two secondary sources. I will distribute a list of topics on Week 9. If you wish to write
on a different topic, you must first talk to me about it. The written assignment is due on the last day of classes.
Course Policies
Students with diverse learning styles and needs are welcome in this course. In particular, if you have a
disability/health consideration that may require accommodations, please feel free to approach me and/or the
Resource Centre for Students with a Disability (RCSD) as soon as possible. RCSD staff members are available by
appointment to assess specific needs, provide referrals and arrange appropriate accommodations. The sooner
you let us know your needs the quicker we can assist you in achieving your learning goals in this course.
Concessions and Documentation
Students may ask for an academic concession, such as rescheduling a quiz or test or an extension for an
assignment, upon providing proper documentation of a personal or medical affliction or of a time conflict.
Proper documentation would include a doctor’s note or a memo from Counseling Services, or a memo from a
coach, employer or faculty member. It must be dated before or close to the time of the missed work or classes.
Withdrawals and Deferrals
Students who miss substantial amounts of class and assignments without documentation will be asked to
withdraw, or will receive an ‘N’ at the end of the semester. Even when the reasons for failing to meet course
requirements are valid, it is not academically sound to allow students missing significant amounts of work to
continue in the course.
Students are to familiarize themselves with the withdrawal dates in the current academic calendar.
A Note on Academic Integrity and Plagiarism
Actions such as plagiarism, multiple submissions, falsifying materials used in academic evaluations, cheating or
aiding others to cheat violate University policies on academic integrity and are considered serious offence. You
must inform yourself about the university regulations (see UVic Policy on Academic Integrity).
Classroom Conduct
Since the quality of the learning environment is paramount, every student has the right to learn and your
instructor has the duty to perform his or her teaching duties in a cooperative, distraction-free and effective
Activities that could disrupt the learning environment for you and your instructor would include the nonacademic use of electronic devices. Students are expected to turn off their cell phones, PDAs and mp3 players
during class.
Add/Drop Deadlines
It is the student’s responsibility to attend to ADD/DROP dates as published in the Calendar and the
Undergraduate Registration Guide and Timetable. You will not be dropped automatically from a class that you
do not attend.