Weekly study5 hours
Hans Christian Andersen’s Fairy Tales
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This free online course will introduce you to some of Hans Christian Andersen’s most popular fairy tales, as well as a few less well known. It will help you analyse the themes in these fairy tales, and give you the possibility to discuss the author’s relationship with his own age as well as his cross-cultural importance today, as the inspiration behind many popular books and movies.
Interpret Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tales with experts from his birthplace
You will learn with experts from the HC Andersen Center at the University of Southern Denmark – an internationally renowned research institution located in the writer’s birthplace, Odense.
Each week, these experts will guide discussions, analyses and interpretations of one or more of Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tales, including:
- The Tinderbox
- The Travelling Companion
- The Little Mermaid
- The Snow Queen (the inspiration for Disney’s Frozen)
- The Story of a Mother
- The Red Shoes
New English translations of the fairy tales will be used. You can download them from this website .
You will explore the themes of each story, and investigate how they both conform with and digress from the basic elements of the fairy tale and the folk tale.
The fairy tale genre became very popular in the period of literary history to which Hans Christian Andersen belongs, Romanticism, when childhood was discovered as an age that is important in its own right. What Hans Christian Andersen did with this genre is absolutely unique - there are no other writers of fairy tales like him.
Through the course, you will understand how Hans Christian Andersen’s authorship developed. From the rewriting of old folk tales via self-invented fairy tales to his so-called new fairy tales characterized by a modern approach.
Explore Hans Christian Andersen’s enduring, universal appeal
Hans Christian Andersen often described himself as a “bog plant” – his roots were figuratively speaking deeply anchored in mire and mud, his very humble beginnings, but he constantly stretched up for the light of the sun, ie. for acceptance and recognition as an artist and a writer. And in fact he grew from these humble beginnings to achieve fame and acknowledgement as an artist in both Europe and America while he was still alive. After his death, he has also become famous in Asia and all other parts of the world.
The majority of Hans Christian Andersen’s around 200 fairy tales have been translated into at least 150 languages. They not only create a fantasy world for children, but also explore universal, sinister and more adult themes such as death, grief and loss.
Through this course, you will discover why his stories have such an enduring and universal appeal - for both children and adults.
- Introduction to Hans Christian Andersen, his life, works and contemporary society.
- Introduction to the fairy tale genre and the folk tale inspiration.
- Models for analysis of folk tales and fairy tales: the actantial model and the home-away-home model.
- Analysis and comparison of a folk tale ‘The Blue Light’ and a fairy tale Hans Christian Andersen’s ‘The Tinderbox’.
- Hans Christian Andersen’s experimental rewritings of folk tales with the folk tale ‘The Riddle’ and Hans Christian Andersen’s ‘The Spectre’ and The Travelling Companion’.
- Biblical themes in Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tales.
- An original Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale – ‘The Little Mermaid’.
- Hans Christian Andersen’s new fairy tales with ‘The Snow Queen’ and ‘The Story of a Mother’.
- Hans Christian Andersen’s recycling of the folk tale with ‘The Red Shoes.
- Hans Christian Andersen’s contemporary and cross-cultural relevance.
- How to engage in further studies of Hans Christian Andersen.
Learning on this course
On every step of the course you can meet other learners, share your ideas and join in with active discussions in the comments.
What will you achieve?
By the end of the course, you‘ll be able to...
- Describe the life and works of the writer Hans Christian Andersen.
- Describe the fairy tale genre.
- Apply relevant models to the analysis of fairy tales.
- Interpret fairy tales and uncover themes and meanings.
- Discuss and compare different analyses and interpretations of fairy tales.
- Explain the themes embedded in Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tales.
- Reflect on and discuss Hans Christian Andersen’s contemporary and cross-cultural relevance.
Who is the course for?
You will need a basic ability to read and understand Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tales in English. Otherwise, a curiosity about and a love for the fairy tale genre is the sole prerequisite for the course.