Sample Assignment Week 4


Week 4:
Wed Feb 3: Definitions: What is a fairy tale, and what are genres?
Readings: Guiding questions. Genre samples: myth, legend, and fable. Tales from Grimms: Tales 2, 58, 139, 89, 121, 5, 26.

Fri Feb 5: Topics in fairy tales: Heroes and heroines.
Readings: Tales 9, 11, 17, 20, 25, 27, 37, 49, 62. Guiding questions and posting instructions.

Study Questions February 3: What is a fairy tale, and what are genres?

  1. Let us start with some warm-up questions:
    If you have an iPod or iPad or something with music on it, how do you organize your tunes/albums?
    Perhaps you watch shows on Netflix or, sites with enormous amounts of movies and shows. How are they organized and made accessible?
    Have you been to a bookstore lately? What system did the store have for organizing and displaying the books?

Please read the texts posted on Sakai (syllabus).

  • Two Norse myths (“Lord of the Gallows” about Odin and the “Song of Rig,” about Heimdall.
  • Three fables by the ancient Greek author Aesop.
  • Three German legends, gathered by the brothers Grimm (read legends numbered 1, 23, 245, and 518).
  1. Compare these sets of genre samples with the tales we have discussed as well as with tale 121 (The Prince Who Feared Nothing) and tale 89 (The Goose Girl). Try to identify their distinct traits/salient differences. What are the distinctive features of the myths, the legends, the fables, and the fairy tales?

What genre does the following stories in the Grimms’ collection belong to?

Tale 2 (The Cat and the Mouse Set Up Housekeeping)
Tale 58 (The Dog and the Sparrow)
Tale 139 (The Girl from Brakel)
Tale 5 (The Wolf and the Seven Young Kids)
Tale 26 (Little Red Cap)

  1. Try to formulate an answer to the fundamental question of this session: What are genres?


Study Questions February 5: Heroes and Heroines

What are heroes? What qualities must fictional characters have, what values must they embody, what journeys must they undertake, what situations must they find themselves in to count as heroes?

Or let me ask you the question in another way: Do you have a hero? Why is this person your hero? Think about how you use this word/title for people.

You have read sample myths, fables, and fairy tales. What do you think distinguishes the fairy tale heroes (if we can call the characters heroes) from other types heroic or central protagonists?

Read the stories assigned for today. What picture of the fairy tale hero or heroine (or central character) do these tales produce or give you?

In fairy tales, heroes have helpers, creatures or sometimes things that materialize at the right moment. Why do they have helpers? What is the role or function performed by the helper? Generate a hypothesis about the function/role of the helper?

Do we sympathize, feel with, and root for the main characters in fairy tales? Why – or why not?

Read several tales of your choice (other tales than the ones listed as required reading) in your Grimms’s Household and Children’s Tales or Stories for Young and Old. Find yet another tale that you think has a clear hero/heroine. Post your chosen tale on the blog and justify why you have chosen that particular story, why it illustrates the theme or figure of hero/heroine.