Due 1:30 p.m. on Tuesday, October 17. Upload ONE .doc or similar file to canvas with compiled documents (each contribution should be 500-750 typewritten words) and a cover page.

One grade will be assigned to entire group. Worth 5% of total grade. Expanded version will be worth 5%.


Most all of the fairy tales we are going to read throughout the quarter can be characterized as “site-specific” (cf. Maitland p. 45). This means that their plot is dependent upon the environment they are set in. In the Brothers Grimm version of Red Riding Hood, for example, the little girl with the red cap meets the dangerous and mysterious wolf while she is walking through the forest to her grandmother’s house. If the fairy tale was set in a more urban environment, she would have most likely not encountered an animal but another human being that harmed her.

However, fairy tale settings can not only be found in our fairy tale books or in the forest, but everywhere around us. This assignment first asks you to take some time and think about several possible places for intense ecological attentiveness in an area that you both frequently pass by (on the UW campus, near your home, during your commute to/from school and work) AND to which you typically do not pay much regard. There are no special requirements for the place you choose: it may be a built environment, a natural space, a humanly curated expanse (park, garden), an abandoned corner or lot, a recurrent puddle or a fountain. The area can be as small as a hedge in a parking lot or as large as a tree and its environs.

Next, in coordination with your group members in class on Thursday Oct. 12 (or online if absent) you will collectively choose one biome (e.g. wooded area, vacant lots, hedges, strips) and then each group member individually will select one site from your lists that belong to this type of biome (you may have to select a site that you did not originally think of). You will have as many sites as group members.

Next, as individuals you will make at least two separate visits to your sites and you will make notes about that site between now and next Tuesday (October 17). Type these notes up in whatever format you feel most appropriate (as diary entries, as a log book, as a narrative, but not as a fairy tale (unless you witness an event unfolding at your site during your visit!). Again, while you as a group pick an overall theme, every individual group member will contribute to this project with their own description of the particular environment that fits into the overall theme. Every individual contribution should have at least 500 words. In the end, when you submit your project, you should compile the individual documents into one file. Continue to make visits to, and notes about, this site throughout the quarter.

The individual documents should describe the environments as elaborately and detailed as possible. Attention should be paid to possible traces from fairy tales (pebbles, birdsong, peaches), ecological forces like human influence, weather, sunlight, microclimates, pollution, decay, gentrification, and the surfacings of particular histories (especially but limited to the species of animals and plants evident; you may have to learn the difference between a starling and a wren). Walk around and touch the environment, if possible. Describe how these activities feel to you.

You can think about questions such as:

What other human beings, animals, or plants do you see?

What colors dominate? How does it smell?

Are there shapes you can identify?

Does it remind you of previous experiences, memories, or fairy tales from your childhood?

With thanks to J.J. Cohen for inspiration.

Our class is a fairy tales class. In fairy tales, tree is an important element. Our biome is green place, for me, just describe a tree, no less than 500 words.