Myths and Fairy Tales
About this course:
Myths reveal collective beliefs that may have no basis in truth. They are foundational tales in the guise of fiction. Often considered sacred, myths describe the behavior of gods, the beginning of the world, the nature of nature, as well as culture. Like legends, folktales, and fairy tales, myths express—and confirm—social and personal values, providing patterns of behavior to be imitated, questioned, or refused. Myths may be “false stories,” but they are valuable because they tell us important truths about ourselves. In this course we read myths and fairy tales from the ancient and modern world and examines their use as serious “enchantment,” as Bruno Bettelheim puts it. Suggested books include: Bruno Bettelheim, The Uses of Enchantment; The Metamorphoses of Ovid, trans., Mandelbaum; Grimm’s Fairy Tales, illustrated by Arthur Rackham; Anderson’s Fairy Tales; and Donald Barthelme, Snow White.