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Folktales and Literature

This special topics literature course examines the literary, cultural and social significance of folktales and their influence on other forms of literature. Rather than surveying literature from a particular time period or geographic region, we will focus on common themes and motifs in folktales that link different cultures within America and around the world. Themes and types to be studied include animal tales; quest stories; tricksters, rogues, and tall tale heroes; Sleeping Beauties, Cinderellas, and other heroines; magical, malicious, and monstrous encounters; Beauty and the Beast and other transformations; and humorous and satiric tales. Folktales will be examined as important reflections of human nature and social values; we will further explore how individual authors in different times and places have rewritten folktales and incorporated folk motifs into other literary modes such as poetry, fiction, drama and film. The interplay between realism and elements of fantasy or magic will be emphasized. This course provides the opportunity to explore traditions and types of literature that are often neglected in college English courses, such as oral traditions, children’s literature, and fantasy.
Course: World Folktales and Literature, sophomore literature course at Ferrum College.

C or better in freshman composition

Pedagogical Approach


Learning Outcomes

Sophomore Lit. Outcomes: 1. Read, comprehend, analyze, interpret, and evaluate primary literary texts as forms of cultural and creative expression 2. Write about literature with unity of purpose, coherent organization, and effective use of English consistent with standard rules and ordinary conventions 3. Demonstrate independent critical thinking 4. Demonstrate critical understanding of cultural diversity as represented by folktale traditions and world literature Specific Outcomes: 1. Identify types of folk literature, including folktale, fable, myth, pourquoi tale, ballad, wonder tale/märchen, Jack tale, and tall tale. 2. Compare/contrast narratives from oral traditions with literary genres of fiction, poetry, drama, film, and picture book. 3. Analyze a variety of motifs that recur in folk narratives and literary works. 4. Read and interpret works of folklore and literature as they represent common human experiences and emotions. 5. Compare/contrast narratives from folklore and literature as they represent different cultural traditions of the world. 6. Identify problems such as cultural bias associated with the transmission, translation, retelling and revising of folk literature in different times and places. 7. Express personal views and preferences in response to selections of folklore and literature.


1. Discuss literature and folktales in class and online discussion forum. 2. Write short papers on themes of stories and comparing literary works with related folktales. 3. Research and report on any topic chosen by student that involves folktales and literature. 4. Write paragraphs and essay on tests about stories assigned in class.

Other Information


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