Topics in Folklore: Ecofeminist Fairy Tales

Ecofeminist Fairy Tales
Course Number: 
162
Semester: 
Spring
Year: 
2018
Section: 
001
Location: 
Barrows 587
Instructor: 
Mary Hufford
Units: 
4
Time: 
WeFr 5:00PM - 6:29PM
CCN: 
32795

Ecofeminist Fairy Tales

Embedded in folklore’s disciplinary foundations, fairy tales have for centuries marked sites
of struggle between a Voice of modernity and the voices (masks) of its Others. Rising to
popularity with the development of the modern state, fairy tales have come to form a
secular social imaginary, incubating notions of alterity, social hierarchy, power, gender
roles, ethical behavior, justice, and, increasingly, ecological stewardship and human
accountability to more-than- human others. Some critics have seen fairy tales as tools for
disciplining women and children into the service of patriarchal capitalism, a service that has
been exposed and dismantled in recent decades through a host of feminist revisions and
critiques. Relating the domination of nature to the exploitation and oppression of women,
ecofeminism frames our exploration of the character and consequences of fairy tale
ecologies.
This course introduces students to the history and organization of fairy tale studies, with special attention to transformations of fairy tale players, plots, and landscapes (especially forests) as these relate to root causes of, and narrative solutions to, present ecological crises. Using an ecofeminist framework we will bring anthropological and ecological perspectives to bear on textual and cinematic variants of classic fairy tales produced over the past four centuries, including Snow White, Beauty and the Beast, Hansel and Gretel, Red Riding Hood, Bluebeard, Mother Holle, and Molly Whuppie.