Skip to main content Skip to navigation

LN202 European Short Fiction in English: Folktale, Fable and Fairytale

Module Code: LN202
Module Name: European Short Fiction in English: Folktale, Fable and Fairytale
Module Coordinator: tbc
Not running 2024-25
Module Credits: 30 (15 ECTS)

Module Description

This module, for visiting students only, focuses on European folk literature (in English translation) from its oral roots through to retellings from the nineteenth, twentieth and twenty-first centuries. You’ll be introduced to a selection of folktale texts, genres and forms – not only fable, folktale and fairytale, but related popular/folk genres, such as the fabliau, the Breton/narrative lay and the Italian novella. You’ll consider the development of folk literature and its continuing popularity and value.

You’ll examine plots, themes and motifs, and how they endure or recur in different kinds of narratives. You’ll also explore how texts from different periods and cultures and in different forms reflect the context in which they originated; for instance, how the narratives treat everyday practicalities and socio-political realities, and what messages they communicate to successive audiences.

You’ll have the opportunity to read English translations produced in different periods and styles, and for different audiences, as well as to compare similar narratives and themes arising in different cultures and languages (French, Italian, German, Spanish and Portuguese, as well as both classical and medieval Latin and Ancient Greek). Students who are interested in the translation process may also compare the effectiveness of different translation methods for different audiences.

Some questions addressed in the module:

  • What functions has folk literature fulfilled in the past and does it retain value in the modern world?
  • Why do certain stories, themes and motifs endure, and how are they transformed to accommodate changing audiences?
  • What is the effect of capturing oral narratives in writing?
  • What is the relation between the simple folktale and literary narratives based on the oral tradition?
  • What is the relation between fantasy and reality in folk narratives? Do such narratives offer valid information about the society which produced them, or should the be viewed purely as fictions?
  • What are the advantages and disadvantages of translating verse narratives into prose?
  • What is the relation between entertainment and education in the various genres and forms examined?
  • How and why did certain kinds of folk literature become associated specifically with children?

You will also be registered on the School’s Study Skills course of lectures, and have access to the supporting online resources.

Assessment Method

  • One comparative critical commentary (10%, 1000 words, due Term 1, Monday of Week 7)
  • One critical evaluation of a journal article (10%, 1000 words, due Term 1, Monday of Week 9)
  • Two essays (each 40%, 3000–3500 words, due in Term 3, Monday of Week 3)

You will also write a formative essay of 1500 words, to be submitted in Week 1 of Term 2. Note that formative essays are intended for practice and their marks do not count towards the final mark for the module. Narrative feedback from the formative assignment and the first two summative assignments should be used to help strengthen your skills in close reading, essay-writing, research and argumentation.

Note that the word count for the essays includes quotations, but not the essay’s bibliography and referential footnotes.