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SCAND 232 A: Hans Christian Andersen and the Fairy Tale Tradition

Meeting Time: 
MTWTh 2:30pm - 3:20pm
KNE 110
Joint Sections: 
C LIT 252 B
Photo of Marianne Stecher
Marianne T. Stecher

Syllabus Description:

Hans Christian Andersen and the Fairy Tale: 

Professor Marianne Stecher

TA, David Whitlock, Fridays 11:30-1:20 (or by appointment):  This link will always be used:

In Spring quarter  2020, this popular large lecture course will be taught remotely.   This Canvas page will  continually be updated to reflect this new online format.   You can look for changes here!

First things first.   Students MUST purchase the following 2 paperback books.  Order your books TODAY from University Bookstore, and receive free domestic, ground shipping! 

Required Books to purchase 

  1. Hans Christian Andersen, Fairy  Tales, trans. Tiina Nunnally (Viking, 2004). ISBN: 0 14 30.3952 0
  2. Maria Tatar, ed., The Classic Fairy Tales. Second Norton Critical Edition (Norton, 2017). ISBN: 0-393-97277-1


In addition to synchronous class lectures on Canvas ZOOM, there are WEEKLY learning tasks:

1.  READ the assigned fairy tales and articles (in your own purchased books or on Canvas)

2.  VIEW any films or film clips (on Canvas).

3. REVIEW  the Lecture slides and outlines (on Canvas).

4.  WRITE 150 word responses to the pinned weekly DISCUSSION (on Canvas).    

5. JOIN  optional scheduled weekly Office Hours by ZOOM (with TA and/or Professor)!

We look forward to working with you!


Course Description:

We will begin the quarter by looking at some of the classic or internationally known fairy tales, such as “The Little Red Riding Hood,” “Hansel and Gretel,” “Snow White,” “Cinderella” and “Donkey Skin.”  We will consider the function and the figure of the storyteller and the child in these texts.  We will also consider the various critical and theoretical approaches that have been used to interpret fairy tales as an important aspect of culture and literature. 

Next, the investigation turns to the the origins and authorship of the folk fairy tale, especially the relationship between the variants of these tales attributed to Charles Perrault and the Brothers Grimm.  What are the origins of the literary fairy tale?  Were fairy tales written for children as an audience or readership – or about children as objects of entertainment?  Why are poor and helpless girls and boys often the subjects of fairy tales?  How are the relationships between parents and children depicted in fairy tales? 

In the second half of the course, we will engage a closer study of the child and the storyteller in relation to some of Hans Christian Andersen’s masterpiece fairy tales. Do Hans Christian Andersen’s tales develop and reinvent the idea of the child and the entire concept of children’s literature in the nineteenth century?  We will delve into readings of the famous tales, for example “The Little Mermaid,” “The Snow Queen,” “The Ugly Duckling” and “The Little Match Girl.”  We will be studying these fairy tales in relation to to literary and cultural history, social contexts, and the author’s life story and examine some of the predominant themes in Andersen’s tales.



Grades will be based on two exams (including objective and essay questions) and two  short essays (500 - 600 words) as well as contributions to weekly online pinned 'Discussions" (150 words per week).

20%                 Weekly participation in online 'Discussions'  (ca. 150 words per week).

20%                 Peer-reviewed short essay #1       (ca. 500 words), due April 25.           

20%                 Peer-reviewed short essay #2      (ca. 500 words), due May 23.

10%                 online Midterm quiz on April 30       

30%                 online Final Exam, June 4 (there will be a window of time)

Student Learning Objectives:

  1. To gain knowledge of fairy tales in various cultural, historical, and literary contexts, including Hans Christian Andersen’s world famous tales.
  2. To introduce various critical approaches to reading fairy tales and other literary texts.
  3. To improve skills for interpreting and writing about literary texts and other media.

Writing Assignments:

SCAND 232 is not a W (Writing) course, although student writing is important.  Ad Hoc W credit is NOT available for this course.  Please see UW policy on plagiarism:


Religious Accommodations Policy:

Washington state law requires that UW develop a policy for accommodation of student absences or significant hardship due to reasons of faith or conscience, or for organized religious activities. The UW’s policy, including more information about how to request an accommodation, is available at Religious Accommodations Policy ( (Links to an external site.). Accommodations must be requested within the first two weeks of this course using the Religious Accommodations Request form ( (Links to an external site.).”

Catalog Description: 
Influence of Hans Christian Andersen and the fairy tale on modern Scandinavian tales and stories. Investigates the significance of the fairy tale in the modern world, with attention to writers such as Isak Dinesen, Knut Hamsun, Villy Sorensen, William Heinesen.
GE Requirements: 
Visual, Literary, and Performing Arts (VLPA)
Last updated: 
January 15, 2020 - 9:22pm