Course Description: Everybody heard about Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella or Beauty and the Beast. Fairy tales were popular for sure in early modern France, but their success is enduring. One can find them all over the place, from Eurasia to America. Their oral sources can be retrieved in original folklore collections. Compiled, rewritten, or modified they progressively found their ways into both literary fiction and Hollywood. For instance, Forbes’s ranking is a testimony to the success of the Disney industry.
As widely known as fairy tales may seem, only a few people are aware that women were the first to produce literary forms of fairy tales in early modern France: Mademoiselle L’Héritier, Mademoiselle Bernard, Mademoiselle de La Force, Madame d’Aulnoy or Madame de Murat, to cite a few. These authors advocate representations of women, consent, love or agency that radically differ from the Disney canon.
This course aims at deciphering the cultural heritage of fairy tales by unveiling the male gaze that has been prevailing in films, paintings and drawings. In the 21th century, young girls and boys deserve new models. Passivity cannot be assigned to women anymore and boldness cannot remain a male privilege. How can the female gaze challenge our prejudices and our assumptions? How can equity find a new aesthetic form in visual arts? The close reading of 17th century texts and their confrontation to cultural traditions will teach us how.
Language of instruction: English
Faculty: Jennifer Tamas