Lecture 1

Grimms’ Fairy Tales

Critical Reading

  • How does the text interact with what we know? With itself? Its history? Its contexts?



  • Mix of story and fact.
  • Often spicing up a historical fact.
  • Usually about someone high up on the social ladder (saint, king, etc).


  • Has a moral!
  • Involves talking animals/plants.


  • Explain how something came to be.
  • Marvel’s Infinity saga is an example.


  • Passed through generations orally.
  • Often about the specific place where it’s told.
  • For example: ghost stories.

Fairy tales

  • Magical elements.
  • Mashup of the other forms.
  • Always: a problem introduced, a problem solved.


  • When a fairy tale is codified from oral to written form.
  • This can happen many times through a story’s history.


  • Change of content to highlight or suppress certain values.
  • When something is institutionalized, it is also contaminated
  • Can be on purpose or accidental
  • Based on the language you speak, your experience, the surroundings, etc
  • Example: the Bible’s story of Adam and Eve says “fruit”, then Milton wrote a poem about the story and realized the Latin word for evil, “malus”, also means apple, so he made the fruit an apple.
    • Accidental contamination
    • Now we think of it as an apple
  • With fairy tales, there is no “original”. Everything is a remix of what came before it.

Story Patterns

Prohibition of something → transgression → punishment → redemption

Unity → separation → unity