Reading fairytales: happy every after?

Course Dates: 11/10/23 - 29/11/23
Time: 18:30 - 20:30
Location: Online
Reading a selection of classic fairy tales, we will explore how fairy tales evolve by reading different versions, including ‘Little Red Riding Hood’, ‘Snow White’, ‘Cinderella’, ‘Hansel and Gretel’, ‘Beauty and the Beast’, and ‘Bluebeard’, investigating how fairy tales evolve by reading different versions,.
This course will be delivered online. See the ‘What is the course about?’ section in course details for more information.
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In stock
Full fee £179.00 Senior fee £179.00 Concession £116.00

Course Code: HLT271

Wed, eve, 11 Oct - 29 Nov '23

Duration: 8 sessions (over 8 weeks)

Please note: We offer a wide variety of financial support to make courses affordable. Just visit our online Help Center for more information on a range of topics including fees, online learning and FAQs.

What is the course about?

This online literature course will introduce us to both familiar and unfamiliar versions of some of these tales, and how they have altered, depending upon when they were produced. Rather than simplistic stories for innocent readers, we will reflect upon how fairy tales were reformatted from adult oral folk tales to become suitable reading material for children. With that shift in target audience, the role of female characters became diminished in stature, often depicted as feeble or even, at times, cast as “evil” figures. As author Angela Carter notes, the shift from oral to print culture ‘both preserves, and also inexorably changes, these stories’ (1990).

What is lost, then, with these shifts in focus to polarise gender roles? Never originally intended for children, does the residue of their adult content remain imprinted, despite fairy tales “cleaning up” their act? Do they still appeal to adult readers? Can we, in any meaningful way talk about original tales, given their composite status? As we read, we can ruminate upon such issues and reflect upon how they responded to and adapted themselves according to evolving social requirements. With names like Charles Perrault and the Brothers Grimm strongly associated with literary fairy tales, we can ponder why their popular female counterparts are not as familiar to us. Also, we will explore more contemporary versions of the tales and discuss their significance, using Angela Carter’s The Bloody Chamber to explore some of these ideas.

This is a live online course. You will need:
- Internet connection. The classes work best with Chrome.
- A computer with microphone and camera is best (e.g. a PC/laptop/iMac/MacBook), or a tablet/iPad/smart phone/iPhone if you don't have a computer.
- Earphones/headphones/speakers.
We will contact you with joining instructions before your course starts.

What will we cover?

During this course, a range of classic and contemporary fairy tales will be read. Our online classes will discuss the tales by paying close attention to important issues and themes like characters, setting, authorship, narrative voice, endings, love, obedience/disobedience, power, and journeys or quests. Also, gender, social class relations, symbolism and pedagogy. We will discuss the differences and similarities between tales and consider which versions we think are more successful as fairy tales than others and why. In turn, we can think about which versions are most well-known and why that might be.

Reading and discussion will focus upon a selection of fairy tale versions of Little Red Riding Hood and Bluebeard.

What will I achieve?
By the end of this course you should be able to...

Have a knowledge of two classic fairy tales, as well as an awareness of different versions of these tales.
Understand the hybrid nature of fairy tales.
Have an understanding of how tales evolved, depending upon their social and historical influences.
Have a knowledge of some major themes and issues within the tales.
Become actively engaged in critically reading fairy tales, so deepening your insight of them.

What level is the course and do I need any particular skills?

You will have an interest in reading and discussing literature, and a willingness to develop your critical enjoyment of fairy tales, but no previous skills or knowledge are required for this course. Some preparatory reading will be necessary before each class, and a willingness to participate in class discussions, while also respectably listening and responding to others is desirable.

How will I be taught, and will there be any work outside the class?

This class will be held in 2 hr sessions once a week over an eight-week period. Each session will be divided into an interactive short lecture with power point, as well as large and small group workshop and discussion focussing on the texts in more detail. Class preparation in advance is required by reading the set texts and any supplementary reading provided for that session.

Are there any other costs? Is there anything I need to bring?

Please purchase or borrow the following paperbacks:

Angela Carter, The Bloody Chamber and Other Stories (Vintage, 1995, but any other year will do).
Iona and Peter Opie, The Classic Fairy Tales (Oxford University Press, 1980 or 1992, but any other year will do).

Books can be bought second-hand on, for instance,,,,

Any other material will be provided by the tutor.

When I've finished, what course can I do next?

Please look for other Literature courses at under History, Culture and Writing/Literature.

Fiona McCulloch

Fiona McCulloch is a Literature academic, specialising in Children’s Literature, Young Adult Fiction, Scottish Literature, Contemporary British Fiction, Women’s Writing, Victorian Literature, Twentieth-Century Literature, Cosmopolitanism, Posthumanism, and Ecocriticism. She was Lynn Wood Neag Distinguished Visiting Professor of British Literature at the University of Connecticut in 2015. As well as publishing several peer-reviewed journal articles, her books include Contemporary British Children’s Fiction and Cosmopolitanism (2017), Cosmopolitanism in Contemporary British Fiction: Imagined Identities (2012), Children’s Literature in Context (2011), and The Fictional Role of Childhood in Victorian and Early Twentieth-Century Children’s Literature (2004). She also writes poetry and is published in Northwords, Mechanics Institute Review Online, Lumpen, and Dreich (forthcoming).

Please note: We reserve the right to change our tutors from those advertised. This happens rarely, but if it does, we are unable to refund fees due to this. Our tutors may have different teaching styles; however we guarantee a consistent quality of teaching in all our courses.