In this course, we will read works by the famous Danish writer Hans Christian Andersen (1805-75), focusing primarily on his exciting experiments with the genre of the literary fairytale. He is best known for fairytales such as “The Little Mermaid,” “The Ugly Duckling,” and “The Emperor’s New Clothes.” Although fairytales are often seen as children’s literature, Andersen’s fairytales contain themes appropriate for adults as well. Accordingly, his fairytales can be read in multifaceted ways that help uncover key psychological, social, and sexual themes at play.
To better understand Andersen in his historical and cultural context, we will also read excerpts from some of his other works, including poems, short stories, novels, plays, travel descriptions, autobiographies, and diaries. Additionally, we will view film adaptations and look at illustrated versions of his fairytales while discussing his works in the context of both Scandinavian perceptions of childhood and the evolving market for children’s literature. Seeing Andersen from such a holistic perspective reveals the underlying tensions at work in his writing and casts him as an innovative and daring writer.
Hans Christian Andersen’s Complete Fairy Tales and Stories. ISBN-13: 978-0385189514
All other required materials will be available in the form of a reader.
Prerequisites: None. All readings in English.