You are here

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 Stecher-Hansen

Syllabus Description:

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 (Penguin, 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

SCAND 232: Hans Christian Andersen and the Fairy Tale.  Spring 2020

Professor Marianne Stecher (; Zoom office hour: Thursdays, 2:30 pm – 3:20pm (class time)

TA: David Whitlock (; Zoom office hours: Fridays, 11:30 am – 1:30pm. This link will always be used:

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 19th century?  We will delve into readings of the famous tales, such as “The Little Mermaid,” “The Snow Queen,” “The Ugly Duckling,” “The Shadow” and “The Little Match Girl.”  We will be studying these fairy tales in relation to literary and cultural history, social contexts, and the author’s life story and examine some of the predominant concerns in Andersen’s tales.

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.
  1. To introduce various critical approaches to reading fairy tales and other literary texts.
  2. To improve skills for interpreting and writing about literary texts and other media.
  3. To optimize educational opportunities for intellectual community building via remote learning.

READING SCHEDULE:  Assigned reading to be completed in advance of lecture!

                  FT:  H.C. Andersen, Fairy Tales (Penguin Classics, 2004).

                  CFT: Maria Tatar, ed. The Classic Fairy Tales (Second Norton Critical Edition, 2017).

                  [Most assigned readings for first 2 weeks are posted on Canvas under “Modules”]


Week #1

Introduction: Andersen, Fairy Tale, the Child

Other tasks or reading for same day:

Mon March 30

Lecture/Read: FT: “The Collar”

Order your books for the course!

Tues. March 31

Lecture/Read: FT: “The Princess on the Pea”


Wed. April 1

Lecture/Read: FT: “The Little Match Girl”

Canvas: Short Bio of H.C. Andersen.

CFT: Maria Tatar, “Introduction: Hans Christian Andersen” (278 – 283).

Thurs. April 2

Professor’s “Office Hours”; Hans Christian Andersen’s 215th Birthday (2 April 1805)

Canvas: Online Discussion 1


Week #2

Folk Origins and Authorship: Folk fairy tales for Children?  “Little Red Riding Hood”

Other reading for same day:

April 6

Read CFT: “Introduction, Little Red Riding Hood” (5 – 14); “The Story of Grandmother (14 – 16).


CFT: Jack Zipes, “Breaking the Disney Spell” (414 – 420)


April 7


Read CFT: Charles Perrault, “Little Red Riding Hood” and Brothers Grimm, “Little Red Cap”(16 – 18)


Canvas: Shavit, “The Concept of Childhood” (pp. xx)

April 8


Read CFT: Grimm brothers, “Hansel and Gretel” (236 – 241).

Read CFT: Donald Haase, “Yours, mine, or ours?  Perrault, The Brothers Grimm, and Ownership of Fairy Tales” (435-46).

Canvas: Danish folk-tale, “The Pancake House.”


April 9

Professor’s Office Hours and review

Canvas: Online Discussion 2



Week #3

Feminist Readings:  “Snow White” and the Disney Fairy Tale film

Other reading or tasks for same day:

April 13

Read CFT: “Introduction: Snow White” (84 – 92); Grimm, “Snow White” (95 – 102); Grimm, “Briar Rose” (Sleeping Beauty) (130 – 133).


April 14

Read CFT: Susan Gubar & Sandra Gilbert, “Snow White and Her Wicked Stepmother” (387 – 393).

Read CFT: Maria Warner, “The Old Wives’ Tale” (405 – 414).

April 15

Read CFT: Jack Zipes: “Casting the Commodity Spell with Snow White,” 427 – 435.

Canvas: Disney’s “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” (1937)

April 16

Professor’s Office Hours


Online Discussion 3;

See prompts for Essay #1



Week #4

Ancient Tales: “Cinderella” - Freud & Oedipus Complex

Other reading or tasks for same day:

April 20

Read CFT: “Introduction: Cinderella” (139 – 145); Brothers Grimm, “Cinderella” (148 – 153).

CFT: Maria Tatar, “Sex and Violence: The Hard Core of Fairy Tales” (446 – 456).

April 21

Read CFT: Charles Perrault, “Donkey-skin” (154 – 162)

Read Canvas: Freud, from Oedipus Rex (excerpt)

Canvas: Charles Perrault, “Cinderilla, or The Little Glass Slipper.”

View clip: Walt Disney, “Cinderella” (1942).

April 22

Read CFT: “Yeh-hsien” (146 – 148) and “Lin Lan” [Cinderella] (171 -175)

Canvas: Optional reading:  Jameson, “Cinderella in China.”

April 23

Professor’s office hours

Short essay #1 [due April 25] and peer-review



Week # 5

From Folktales to Andersen’s Fairy Tales & National Romanticism

Other reading for same day

April 27

Read FT: H.C. Andersen, “The Tinderbox,” and “Little Claus and Big Claus.” 

Read FT: “Introduction” (xvii – xxiv) – about H.C. Andersen and his first fairy tales.

April 28

Read FT: “The Traveling Companion” and “The Wild Swans.”

Canvas: Jens Andersen, “The Cult of Childhood.”

April 29

Canvas: H.C. Andersen, “Clod Hans An Old Folktale Retold”

Canvas: Asbjornsen & Moe, “The Princess who always had to have the Last Word.” 

April 30

Office hours at 1:30 pm

Online Discussion  4



Week #6

Tales of Alterity & Unrequited Love – “The Little Mermaid”

Other texts to read.

May 4

Read FT: H.C. Andersen, “The Little Mermaid,” 

FT:  “Introduction” (xxv – xxxii) “The Great Middle Years”

May 5

Read FT: H.C. Andersen, “The Little Mermaid,”

Lecture: view Disney, clips, The Little Mermaid (1987).

Canvas: Jens Andersen, “The Men of Romanticism”

May 6

Read FT: “The Steadfast Tin Soldier,” and “The Sweethearts.”


May 7

Midterm quiz

Online Discussion 5


Week 7

Andersen – The Fairy Tale of My Life – “The Shadow”

Other texts and film: 

May 11

Read FT: H.C. Andersen, “The Ugly Duckling” and “The Fir Tree.”


Read FT:  “Introduction” (xxxii - xxxv) “Late Andersen – The Self &the Shadow”

May 13

Lecture/Discussion of Young Andersen (2005)

View clips Hans Christian Andersen (1952).


May 14

Professor’s office hour at 1:30am

Online discussion #6 (See prompts—Essay #2)



Week 8

What is Art?  Romanticism and “The Nightingale.”

Other viewing

May 18

Read FT: H.C. Andersen, “The Snow Queen,”


May 19

Read FT: H.C. Andersen, “The Snow Queen,”

Viewing: Disney’s Frozen

May 20

“The Nightingale,” and “The Emperor’s New Clothes.”


May 21

Professor’s office hour

Discussion #7



Week #9

Gothic and ‘Uncanny’ Andersen – “The Red Shoes.”


May 25

Memorial Day – National holiday


May 26

Read FT: H.C. Andersen, “The Story of a Mother,


May 27

Read FT: Andersen, “The Red Shoes.”


May 28

Read CFT:  “The Girl who Trod on the Loaf” (303 – 309)


Essay #2 (first draft) due on May 30; Discussion #8 [review for final exam]



Week # 10

Looking glass of the Future: Andersen’s Science Fiction, “The Wood Nymph”!


June 1

Read Canvas: H.C. Andersen, “The Evil Prince”


June 2

Read Canvas:  “In a Thousand Years’ Time.”

Read FT: Andersen, “The Wood Nymph.”

Read Canvas: M. Stecher, “Modernity, Technology, and Tourism”

June 3

Read FT: Andersen, “The Wood Nymph.”


June 5

online Final test


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

20%                 Weekly participation in 8 online 'Discussions'  (ca. 150 words per week).

20%                 Peer-reviewed short essay #1, due April 25.           

20%                 Peer-reviewed short essay #2, due May 30.

10%                 online Midterm quiz on May 7     

30%                 online Final Exam

Writing Assignments:  SCAND 232 is not a W (Writing) course, although student writing is important.  Ad Hoc W (Writing) credit is not available for this course.  Please make an appointment with the Odegaard Writing and Research Center for help: .  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: 
September 10, 2020 - 9:25pm