Spring 2020 - HUM 350 D100

Special Topics: Great Figures in the Humanistic Tradition (4)

Great Figures: The Brothers Grimm

Class Number: 7828

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    We 1:30 PM – 5:20 PM
    BLU 11911, Burnaby

  • Prerequisites:

    45 units.



An interdisciplinary study of the life and works of an individual who has made a lasting contribution to the humanistic tradition in more than one field of endeavour (e.g. philosophy, politics, literature, economics, religion). This course may be repeated once for credit. Students with credit for this topic under another Humanities course number may not take this course for further credit. Breadth-Humanities.


      Once upon a time there were two brothers, Jacob and Wilhelm. Jacob trained as a lawyer, but soon found his interests captivated by the past. He followed philosophy and trained himself as a philologist and an antiquarian, trying to define the German people and to trace them back into the long-lost past. With his brother, he documented their language, discovering Grimm’s Law and publishing an enormous encylopedic dictionary that is still used today. 
      His quest for words led him into the world of oral tradition. He documented a number of traditional tales, most famously his Kinder- und Hausmärchen (Children’s and Household Tales), the first folktale texts taken directly from oral tradition. More or less. This, in turn, spawned a whole area of children’s literature in multiple media—his Schneewittchen was the source for Disney’s first full-length animated film, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1939).
      This course explores the works of the Brothers Grimm, with their philosophical roots in the Enlightenment and post-Enlightenment philosophy, their political context in emergent European nationalism in the Napoleonic era, and their intersections with the Romantic movement. We will, of course, be reading fairy tales, but also talking about the process of collection and the production of the tales as we have them, and the uses to which they have been put over the two centuries since their first publication.  


  • Grimm Scholarly Article Review 15%
  • In-Class Comparative Presentation 20%
  • Midterm Exam 20%
  • Term Paper 32%
  • Participation 13%



Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm; tr. Jack Zipes. The Original Folk and Fairy Tales of the Brothers Grimm: The Complete First Edition (Princeton University Press)
ISBN: 978-0691173221

Maria Tatar, The Hard Facts of the Grimms’ Fairy Tales (Princeton University Press)
ISBN: 978-0691114699

Additional excerpts from public domain authors will be available through Canvas, and there will be articles assigned available through the library.

Registrar Notes:

SFU’s Academic Integrity web site http://www.sfu.ca/students/academicintegrity.html is filled with information on what is meant by academic dishonesty, where you can find resources to help with your studies and the consequences of cheating.  Check out the site for more information and videos that help explain the issues in plain English.

Each student is responsible for his or her conduct as it affects the University community.  Academic dishonesty, in whatever form, is ultimately destructive of the values of the University. Furthermore, it is unfair and discouraging to the majority of students who pursue their studies honestly. Scholarly integrity is required of all members of the University. http://www.sfu.ca/policies/gazette/student/s10-01.html