GLITS 252 D: Introduction to Global Literatures: Literary Genres Across Time and Place

Spring 2024
MW 2:30pm - 4:20pm / MEB 237
Section Type:
Joint Sections:
RUSS 324 A
Syllabus Description (from Canvas):

Russ 324/GLITS 250 D, Spring, 2024

Mondays and Wednesdays, 2:30-4:20, MEB 237

Instructor: Dr. Henry


Phone: 206 659-2659

Office address: A 211 Padelford Hall

Office hours: Tuesdays, 12-2, on Zoom, and by appointment

Learning objectives:

  1. Students will explore the full range of literary creativity by a class underrepresented in literary studies -- the pre-industrial peasantry.
  2. Assessment of Russian folktales will employ a range of critical tools, and overturn stereotypes of folktales as "simple" and "primitive" art.
  3. Students will learn to recognize folkloric paradigms, and apply them to analysis of contemporary high and popular culture, as well as to story types encountered in their own family histories, hometowns, countries of origin.


Final paper (Writing credit students ONLY): Due Tuesday, June 4, by 5 pm


Course Books (all PDFs on Canvas)

Russian Fairy Tales, collected by Aleksandr Afanasiev, translated by Norbert Guterman, also available in hard copy from the UW Bookstore

Morphology of the Folktale, Vladimir Propp (University of Texas Press)


Required readings are all on Canvas and are organized by week. You will need to do the reading BEFORE attending class, as there are also reading quizzes prior to some class meetings.

The only optional materials are the “Forbidden Folktales” in Week 6, as these may be highly offensive to some readers. Reading them and attending class on the day that we’re discussing them is optional. Should you choose not to read the “Forbidden Folktales” or attend class that day, this will not affect your grade in any way.


Mar 25 Introductions

Mar 27 The Basics: Modes of Literary Discourse

Epic, lyric, novel, drama: what the folktale is not

Readings: Epic: "New Coasts & Poseidon's Son," from Book IX of The Odyssey, by Homer. Lyric: "The Guest" (Гость), Anna Akhmatova (1889-1966). Novel: Excerpt from Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen (1775-1817). Drama: Excerpt from Arcadia (1993), Tom Stoppard (b.1937). "On the Boundaries Between Studies of Folklore and Literature" (1929) by Roman Jakobson & Petr Bogatyrev.

Afanas'ev: Vasilisa the Beautiful (439) (Василиса Прекрасная, 104) (AT 480 B*)

ONE-PAGE PAPER #1: Literary forms  due by 5 pm, Fri, Mar 29

  • How does the folktale treat character development, setting, and time, as opposed to the way that these are treated in the epic, novel, lyric, or drama?
  • Answer with reference to at least two of the non-folktale texts
  • Submit your assignment here


Apr 1 Origins of the Folktale: Mythology

Mythology: The Voyage of the Hero: 1: Dughda & Zoroaster, Siegfried, Kunti & Karna, Moses, Mary & Jesus. 2: King Arthur, Siegfried, Mary 3: Odysseus & Achilles. 4: Heracles, Prometheus, Theseus & Ariadne, Ananse 5: Attis, Tammuz & Inanna (Ishtar), Osiris & Isis, Persephone & Demeter, Orpheus, Wanjiru 6: Orpheus & Eurydice, Odysseus, Aeneas 7: Adonis & Aphrodite, Corn Mother, Bear Man 8: Abraham, Heracles, King Arthur (CANVAS)

Additional readings:  "The Pagan Gods," and "The Elements: Water, Fire, Earth & Air," from Russian Myths, Elizabeth Warner

Apr 3 The Russian Folktale

Readings: "The Structure of the Narrative: The Epic Laws (1908)," from Principles for Oral Narrative Research, by Axel Olrik; “One-Dimensionality,” and “Depthlessness,” from The European Folktale: Form and Nature, by Max Lüthi, 4-23; “The Peasant Way of Life,” Mary Matossian, from The Peasant in Nineteenth-Century Russia, 11-40.

Afanas'ev: The Three Kingdoms (49) (Три царства – Медное, серебряное, и золотое, 128) (AT 301), The Pike with the Long Teeth (54) (Байка о щуке зубастой, 81), Know Not (97), (Незнайко, 296) (AT 532); The Singing Tree and the Talking Bird (184), (Поющее дерево и птица-говорунья, 288) (AT 707); Husband & Wife (369) (Муж да жена, 445) (AT1360 C); Beasts in a Pit (498) (Звери в яме, 29) (AT 20 A); Il’ya Muromets & the Dragon (569) (Илья Муромец и Змей, 310), Prince Ivan, the Firebird, & the Grey Wolf (612) (Сказка об Иване-царевиче, жар-птице и о сером волке, 168) (AT 550)


READING QUIZ #1  Quiz available from Apr 3, 5:00 pm, until Apr 4, 5:00 pm



Apr 8  Animals

Readings: “The Master Cat, or Puss-in-Boots,” by Charles Perrault.

Afanas'ev: The Bear (74) (Медведь, 57) (AT 161 А*); The Crane and the Heron (66) (Журавль и цапля, 72) (AT 244 А*); The Fox Confessor (72) (Лиса-исповедница, 16) (AT 61 A); Bukhtan Bukhtanovich (168) (Бухтан Бухтанович, 163) (AT 545 В); Old Favors are Soon Forgotten (273) (Старая хлеб-соль забывается, 27) (AT 155); The White Duck (342) (Белая уточка, 265) (AT 403)

ONE-PAGE PAPER #2:  Animal Tales DUE BY 2:30 PM, APR 8

  • Are the animal characters of the Russian folktale stand-ins for human beings? Do they represent animals themselves?
  • What do folktales about animals reveal about the Russian peasant's relationship to the natural world?
  • Is it a benign and ordered world, a neutral one, a dangerous one?
  • Submit your assignment here

Apr 10  Heroes & Heroines

Readings: Orrin E. Klapp, "The Folk Hero," Journal of American Folklore (1949); Jessica Hooker, "The Hen Who Sang: Swordbearing Women in Eastern European Fairytales," Folklore (1990).

Afanas'ev: Aliosha Popovich (67) (Алеша Попович, 312), Prince Ivan & Princess Martha (79) (Иван-царевич и Марфа-царевна, 125) (AT 502 + 300); The Frog Princess (119) (Царевна-лягушка, 267-9) (AT 402 + 400), The Maiden Tsar’ (229) (Царь-девица, 232-33) (AT 4002); Prince Danila Govorila (351) (Князь Данила-Говорила, 114) (AT 313 E*); Maria Morevna (553) (Марья Моревна, 159) (AT 552 А + 4001 + 554)



Apr 15 The Russian Folk Epic (bylina

Readings: "The Russian Folk Epos," and "Ilya Muromets and Nightingale the Brigand," from Russian Folklore: An Anthology in English Translation;  “Sadko;” and “The Ship of Sadko Stood Still at Sea,” “The Making of Homeric Verse,” Milman Parry (1934); “Russian Byliny,” Felix Oinas.

Please also watch the following clips on YouTube:

Bylina: Il’ya Muromets, sung to accompaniment of gusli

Ulyana Angelevskaya sings a bylina:


Apr 17 Fools and Tricksters

Readings: "A Tolerated Margin of Mess: The Trickster and His Tales Reconsidered," Barbara Babcock-Abrahams, Journal of the Folklore Institute, 147-86.

Afanas'ev: Emelya the Simpleton (46) (Емеля-дурак, 165-66) (AT 675); Ivanushka the Little Fool (62) (Иванушка-дурачок, 400-01) (AT 1681 A + 16911535); Baldak Boriseivich (90) (Балдак Борисьевич, 315) (AT 946 А*); Ivan the Simpleton (142) (Иван-дурак, 430) (AT 1640); Ivanko the Bear’s Son (221) (Иванко Медведко, 152) (AT 650 А + 1006* + 1009 + 1045 + 10721063 + 1082 + 1130); The Arrant Fool (335) (Набитый дурак, 404) (AT 1696); Lutoniushka (336) (Лутонюшка, 405-06) (AT 14501384 + 1210 + 1214* + 1263); Little Sister Fox & the Wolf (371) (Лисичка сестричка и волк, 1-7) (AT 12344330170 + 61 А; The Thief (590) (Вор, 383) (AT 1525 A+1525 P (= АА 1525 G*+ 1737).


READING QUIZ #2 Quiz available from Apr 17, 5:00 pm, until Apr 18, 5:00 pm


Apr 22 Demons

Readings : “Neither Eat nor Drink What a Demon Offers" (Jewish folktale); "Demons and Spirits of Place," from Russian Myths, Elizabeth Warner 

Afanas'ev: Misery (20) (Горе, 303) (AT 735 A (= 332 F*); The Bad Wife (56) (Сказка о злой жене, 433-37) (AT 1164); The Fiddler in Hell (180), (Скрипач в аду, 371) (AT—.СУС— 677** + 761 A*); The Snotty Goat (200) (Сопливый козел, 277) (AT 430); The Secret Ball (224) (Ночные пляски, 298) (AT 306); The Peasant & the Corpse (333) (no Russ. title, #352 in Afanas'ev) Elena the Wise (545) (Елена Премудрая, 236) (AT 306 + 329); The Vampire (593) (Упырь, 363) (AT 363+ 407)

Apr 24 The Legend

Readings: "The Seven Sleepers: Saint's Legend, Local Legend, Fairy Tale," and "The Living Doll: Local Legend and Fairy Tale," from Once Upon a Time: On the Nature of Fairy Tales, by Max Lüthi; "The Pied Piper of Hamelin" (Brothers Grimm) 

Afanas'ev: Father Nicholas & the Thief (145) (Об отце Николае, 451) (AT 848*); The Potter (208) (Горшеня, 325) (AT 921 E*), The Lazy Maiden (423) (Рассказы о мертвецах, 351)

Online resource:

ONE-PAGE PAPER #3:  Legends DUE BY 2:30 PM, APR 24

Write down a legend that you have heard and bring it to class to share & discuss. It can be longer than one page.

  • These could be stories from school or your hometown, family legends or UW lore.
  • If you honestly don't know any, choose an "urban legend" -- either one you've heard or read online.
  • Be sure to cite your source and provide a URL if your legend comes from an internet source
  • What are the specific ways in which the legend differs from the magic tale?
  • Submit your assignment here


Apr 29 Folklore on Film: Il'ya Muromets (Илья Муромец, 1956)

In Russian with English subtitles. We’ll watch this in class.

May 1 Forbidden Folktales (Reader Discretion Advised. Attendance is OPTIONAL for this class.)

Readings: "Misconceptions in Erotic Folklore," G. Legman, The Journal of American Folklore, 200-08;  "Taboo or Not Taboo: That is the Question," Robert S. Wachal, 195-206.

Stories: The Comb (Чесалка) The Magic Ring (Волшебное кольцо) Mirth and Grief (Смех и горе), The Two Brothers (Два брата жениха), A Man Does Woman’s Work (Мужик за бабьей работой), The Fox & the Hare (Лиса и заяц), The Dog & the Woodpecker (Собака и дятел), The Bear & the Peasant Woman (Медведь и баба)


May 6 Interpretive and Categorical Frameworks

Morphology of the Folktale, by Vladimir Propp (1928), Ch. 1, 3-17, Ch. 2, 19-24, Ch. 3, 25-65, "An Example of Analysis of a Tale," 96-98.

ATU tale index :  

AT index (Aarne & Thompson):

May 8 Gender Relations 

Afanas'ev: The Fox Physician (15) (Лиса-лекарка, 18) (AT 1889 К+ 18 В *); The Golden Slipper (44) (Золотой башмачок, 292) (AT 510 A); Vasilisa, the Priest’s Daughter (131) (Василиса-поповна, 316) (AT 884 B*); Danilo the Luckless (255) (Данило Бессчастный, 313) (AT 465 А+ 882 A); The Stubborn Wife (280) (Жена-спорщица, 440) (AT 1365 F); Dawn, Evening, & Midnight (457) (Зорька, Вечорка и Полуночка, 140) (AT 301); The Feather of Finist, the Bright Falcon (580) ((Пëрышко Финиста ясна сокола, 234) (AT 432)

READING QUIZ #3 Quiz available from May 8, 5:00 pm, until May 9, 5:00 pm



May 13 Field and Forest: Space and Place in the Russian Folktale

Readings: "Imaginations of Destruction: The 'Forest Question' in Nineteenth-Century Russian Culture," Jane Costlow, The Russian Review, 91-118; "Erysichthon," Tales from Ovid, trans. by Ted Hughes (New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1997).

Afanas'ev: The Magic Shirt (110) (Чудесная рубашка, 208-9) (AT 318); The Speedy Messenger (124) (Скорый гонец, 259) (АТ 665); Right and Wrong (202) (Правда и кривда, 115) (AT 613); The Magic Swan Geese (349) (Гуси-лебеди, 113) (AT 480 А*); The One-Eyed Evil (404) (Лихо одноглазое, 302) (AT 1137); The Soldier & The King (563) (Солдат и царь в лесу, 340) (AT 952)


Students taking the class for W credit, please upload a draft of your final paper here by Tuesday, May 14h, 2024, 10 pm. 


May 15  Stories About Stories

Readings: "Philomela,” from Classical Mythology

Afanas'ev: The Armless Maiden (294), (Косоручка, 279) (AT 706); How a Husband Weaned His Wife from Fairy Tales (308) (Как муж отучил жену от сказок, 448) (AT 1376 A*); The Miraculous Pipe (425) (Чудесная дудка, 244) (AT 780 ); Go I Know Not Whither, Bring Back I Know Not What (504) (Пойди туда -- не знаю куда, принеси то-- не знаю что, 212) (AT 465 A)


READING QUIZ #4 Quiz available from May 15, 5:00 pm, until May 16 5:00 pm



May 20 Folktales for Today?

Readings: "The Folk Performance," from The Dynamics of Folklore, by Barre Toelken, 117-133; "Prince Hat Underground," in White Cat, Black Dog (2023) by Kelly Link

PAPER #4: Write your own tale! DUE BY 2:30 PM MAY 20

  • You can draw inspiration from any folktale form – magic tale, animal tale, tale of everyday life, local legend, epic
  • You can parody it, elaborate on it in a modern way like Kelly Link does, undo its magic or improve its faults, whatever you like 
  • Papers may be longer than one page
  • Use modern language, settings, and situations -- what does the folktale look like in our day, when tales, if not folks, have changed enormously?
  • Brave volunteers are encouraged to share their stories in class.
  • Submit your story here:


May 22 The Authentic and the Manufactured (“Fakelore”)

Readings: Folklore for Stalin, “The Origins of Folklore for Stalin,"  “Soviet Tales,"  “The Fate of Pseudofolklore," Stories: “You Are Our Bright Sunshine,"  “How a Fascist General Fell Captive to the Partisans,"  “The Steel Ring” [follows notes to Folklore for Stalin] John M. Thompson, "The Second Revolution, The Stalinist System, and World War II, 1928-1946," from Russia and the Soviet Union: A Historical Introduction from the Kievan State to the Present.  English translations of Russian songs.




May 29 A Reason to Return: Folkloric Forms in Modern Russian Literature

Readings:  Stories of Lyudmila Petrushevskaya (b. 1938): "The Arm" (Рука, 2002), The Fountain House (Дом с фонтаном, 2003), A Shadow Life (Тень жизни), Two Kingdoms (Два царства, 2007), A New Soul (Новая душа, 2002)

Online: Please read this short profile of Petrushevskaya:


READING QUIZ #5 Quiz available from May 29, 5 pm, until May 30, 5 pm


For students who would like to read the folktales in Russian:

Google the Russian title with the story number supplied in the syllabus. If you Google Солдат и царь в лесу 340, the first thing that will turn up is this excellent and reliable site with an unfortunately terrible user interface:

Солдат и царь в лесу: [Сказка] N 340. — 1985

You will always need to give a story's number with the title, as stories exist in multiple variants, and the one you find without that number may differ significantly from the one assigned in class.


Methods of Evaluation:

Participation: 20%

Reading quizzes: 40%

Written assignments: 40%

(Students taking W credit: final paper will constitute a 6th written assignment, and will be calculated that way)


Rubric for class participation grade:  (20% of grade)

4.0       Consistently adds to discussion, demonstrates familiarity with reading

3.5       Occasionally participates, is attentive in class, demonstrates familiarity with reading

3.0       Rarely participates, but is attentive in class

2.0       Does not participate, texts, sleeps, does other homework in class

1.0       Does not participate, does not attend class regularly

0          Does not attend class, so cannot participate


Quizzes (40% of grade)

There are 5 quizzes that cover the reading and class discussions. They will be open for 24 hours after the date indicated in the syllabus. You will have 30 minutes to complete them. They should not take more than 10 minutes, and if you have a test-taking accommodation, 30 minutes will be ample time, and where you take the quiz is up to you. I recommend downloading the Canvas app, in case you find yourself with cell service but no wifi.

Quizzes are multiple-choice and are designed to ensure that you keep up with the reading. There are no retakes or regrades, and I will not remind you to take it.


Written Assignments (40% of grade)

There are 4 written assignments. They are designed to ensure that you can analyze folk literature using various critical paradigms.

  • Written assignments must be brief -- one page only, double-spaced. Longer essays will be marked down. 
  • Be succinct, and demonstrate that you have done the reading of both critical texts and the folktales.


Late policy

Unless you’re ill or have a very good reason for submitting work late, there is no late policy.


Rubric for assessing one-page papers:



Excellent  4.0-3.8

Good  3.7-3.0

Eh.  2.9-2.0

No. Just don’t.


Answers the question(s) posed on syllabus; references multiple works treated in class, offers own original insights.

Answers the question(s) posed on the syllabus, with reference to some of the works treated in class.

Doesn’t answer the question(s) posed on syllabus, does not reference works treated in class.

Not really any. Cause didn’t actually do the reading.


No errors in grammar, spelling, usage. Language is concise, without padding.

Minor errors in spelling, grammar, or usage.

Many annoying errors in spelling, grammar, and usage.

My heart brakes when you loose site of the purpose of teh assignment.


Uses 12 point font, double-spaced, 1-inch margins, 1 page only.

Uses 12 point font, double-spaced, 1-inch margins, 1 page only.

Weird font, 1 ½ spacing, margins too large or too small, too long or too short.

Written on phone while on the bus from Kenmore that morning.



Final Paper: for Writing credit (W credit) students only

If you’re taking the class for W credit as well as VLPA credit, you will need to write and revise a 4-6 page research/essay paper. A list of potential paper topics will be made available on Canvas. You can also choose your own topic, but will need to clear it with me first.

  • Papers should be double-spaced, with page numbers, have 1-inch margins, and use a 12-point font.
  • Please be consistent about citations, footnotes, or bibliography if you use them
  • Any system (AP, MLA, Chicago, etc) is fine.


For W credit, you will need to upload a draft of the final paper three weeks early, on Tuesday, May 14th, by 10 pm. 


I will read your paper, suggest revisions and corrections, and return the paper to you by May 28th

  • You will then revise the paper according to the notes that I’ve given you.
  • And turn in the final, revised paper on June 4th, by 5 pm.


Because of the time-consuming nature of reading and commenting on your drafts, it is essential that you notify me that you wish to take the class for W credit by week 5 of the quarter, by April 25th.

  • There are no exceptions to this rule.
  • If you have not informed me both in person AND by email by week 5 that you would like to receive W credit, I will not read your draft.


Class policies

You are welcome to bring drinks to class, but no food. Please try to be on time; if you are going to be late to class regularly please let me know why. 



Please don’t call me by my first name.  I’m old. I prefer “Dr. Henry.”

            Email questions that could be answered by reading the syllabus will not receive a reply. When in doubt, RTFS: Read The Syllabus.

            Sometimes I bring my dog to class. You can text me (I won’t know who you are) if you’d rather not have a smallish, very furry dog in class, that is totally fine. He is very furry, and allergies are a real thing.

That's about it?


Catalog Description:
An introduction to literary study. Literature from around the globe, with focus on a specific genre such as novel, short story, fairy tale, myth, drama, lyric or epic poetry. Topics vary.
GE Requirements Met:
Arts and Humanities (A&H)
Last updated:
July 24, 2024 - 12:44 am