On Wednesday afternoon, Frau Hodgdon’s German 4 classes presented an evening of German Fairy Tales at the Peterborough Town Library in front of an audience of about 75 people, including Austrian exchange students from Salzburg.
The first class gave an account on how in 19th-century Germany, the Brothers Grimm — who were recognized as serious academics, philologists, cultural researchers, lexicographers and authors — came to collect folktales that had overt moral endings to them. The stories were originally intended for adult audiences and only later developed into fairy tales for children.
Presenters focused on common plot elements in these folktales, archetypical figures like the evil stepmother and the fairy godmother, narrative devices as well as recurring themes, such as talking animals and powerful magic. Two students explored how the original stories were too gruesome to be acceptable to the American cultural context and were adapted and toned down, first by early publishers and later by the Walt Disney Company which specialized in bringing European fairy tales to American moviegoers.
After the literary analysis came the presentation of “Schneewitchen und die sieben Zwerge” (“Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs”), presented entirely in German, with a narrator and dramatized by the members of the 3rd block German class.
At the end of the evening, Frau Hodgdon had reason to be proud — the presentations were validated by the applause of the audience.