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Between Worlds: Exploring Folklore, Faerie and Fantasy

The realm of fairy-story is wide and deep and high and filled with many things: all manner of beasts and birds are found there; shoreless seas and stars uncounted; beauty that is an enchantment, and an ever-present peril; both joy and sorrow as sharp as swords. In that realm a man may, perhaps, count himself fortunate to have wandered, but its very richness and strangeness tie the tongue of a traveller who would report them. And while he is there it is dangerous for him to ask too many questions, lest the gates should be shut and the keys be lost.

– JRR Tolkien, On Fairy Stories

For as long as human beings have been telling stories, we’ve told stories of the realm of Faerie, and the creatures which inhabit it. In this new Point North class, we’re going to explore the medieval origins of the Faerie-story tradition, and track the evolution of the fairy-tale and fantasy genres which were inspired by those tales. From the Middle English poem Sir Orfeo to Game of Thrones and Tinkerbell, Faerie stories have been a consistent and popular part of our shared culture.

This six-week class is intended for scholars and lovers of fairytale and fantasy fiction. Each of the six ninety-minute sessions is available as both a video and an audio lecture. Specifically, we’re going to study the following elements:

  • Week One: The oldest origins of Faerie in folklore and myth; the modern critical framework surrounding Faerie.
    Texts: “On Fairy Stories” (JRR Tolkien), “The Hero With A Thousand Faces” (Joseph Campbell), “Sometimes Fairy Stories May Say Best What’s to be Said” (C.S. Lewis)
  • Week Two: The foundations of Faerie in the medieval period.
    Texts: Sir Orfeo and Sir Gawain and the Green Knight
  • Week Three: The evolution of Faerie in the Elizabethan period.
    Texts: The Faerie Queene (Edmund Spenser), A Midsummer Night’s Dream (William Shakespeare)
  • Week Four: The codification of Faerie and folklore into the modern fairytale.
    Texts: Tales and Stories of the Past with Morals (Charles Perrault), Grimm’s Fairy Tales (Brothers Grimm), Fairy Tales (Hans Christian Andersen)
  • Week Five: The roots of modern fantasy in late 19th and early 20th centuries.
    Texts: The Princess And The Goblin (George MacDonald), Peter and Wendy (JM Barrie)
  • Week Six: Disney, young adult literature and the modern fairytale.
    Texts: Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs (1937), The Little Mermaid (1989), Coraline (Neil Gaiman)
  • Bonus: A live commentary track for the 1999 adaptation of A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

This downloadable version of the class includes audio and video versions of the lecture, along with notes and a transcript of the key points. Those files are DRM free, and you’ll be able to keep them, watch or listen to them as often as you like, and copy them to any computer or device that you own.

To purchase this class and gain access to the download, click the button below. If you’re interested in purchasing registration as a gift — a perfect treat for the fantasy reader in your life! — then please email

Between Worlds: Exploring Folklore, Faerie and Fantasy

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