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Grant number like: FV-50293-11

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President and Fellows of Harvard College (Cambridge, MA 02138-3800)
Maria Tatar (Project Director: March 2011 to May 2014)

Seminars for K-12 Educators
Education Programs

$161,934 (approved)
$148,559 (awarded)

Grant period:
10/1/2011 – 9/30/2012

Golden Compasses as Moral Compasses: The Ethics and Aesthetics of Fairy Tales and Fantasy

A four-week seminar for sixteen school teachers on fantasy and fairy tales and their impact on imagination and moral sense in children.

What happens to children when they read and immerse themselves in Other Worlds? In this seminar, we will investigate how imaginative literature leads children into possible worlds, enabling them to engage in mind-reading and explore counterfactuals in ways that are impossible in real life. We will begin with the culture of the nursery, analyzing the primal power of fairy tales, their connection with myth, and their attractions for both adult and child. Next we will turn to fantasy literature, reading two works that introduced the power of fantasy and imagination into children’s literature: Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland and J. M. Barrie’s Peter and Wendy. Philip Pullman’s The Golden Compass and the last of the Harry Potter books will help us understand strategies writers employ to draw children into fantasy worlds. Those works will lead to discussion of the possibilities for understanding and analyzing the effects of story on child readers.