Once upon a time, a girl in red walked into the woods and tricked the wolf who would have consumed her.

Once upon a time, a mother escaped from a vampire skeleton after her foolish husband brought her to its lodge. She did this while holding her son in her arms.

Once upon a time, a Rani fought an army to its knees. Then she unchained the Raja who fought against her, buying lasting peace for her people with her mercy.


There's a handful of fairy tales that we all know. Cinderella. Sleeping Beauty. Snow White. They're anthologized, retold, and reimagined over and over in film and books, fashion and advertising. And, to be clear, we love these stories.

But sometimes, it feels like they're the only fairy tales out there.

Even worse: it can feel like the only way to be a woman in a story is to be pretty, passive, polite. But the truth is - there are dozens, even hundreds, of fairy tales and folktales from all over the world that show us how many different ways there are to be a woman. And how many different paths a heroine can take on her journey.

In this course, we're returning to fairy tales with a vengeance. We'll explore tales from India, Venezuela, England, the Philippines, Nigeria, Japan, and Iraq, as well as indigenous stories from the US. Plus many, many more. All grounded in current fairy-tale scholarship and our unending passion for folklore.

Heroines can be clever, formidable, adventurous, and even unabashedly feminine - and win respect, recognition, and their own happily ever after.

If you're wondering why we're teaching this course (and why you should take it), here's what's up:

  • We're fairy-tale scholars. We do a lot of other stuff, but this is our zone, our happy place, and the whole reason we decided to go to grad school to begin with. It's what we've written about, published on, and taught the most.

  • Fairy tales matter. They matter profoundly - they shape the way we see the world and ourselves. And which fairy tales we read and see and retell matters. If we only ever see passive princesses, that tells our brains (and our culture) something about what kind of woman is worthy of being loved. If we think the only way a woman can be strong is to give her a sword, that tells us a lot about what traits and abilities are admirable and valuable. 

  • The truth is, when we see ourselves in stories, we see ourselves and the world more clearly, more hopefully. And diving into the archive of heroines from around the globe gives us so many more possibilities to imagine.

  • Fairy tales rock. They're magical and inspirational. We love them. You love them. Let's read some!

The Gates of Carterhaugh Are Open for:


This course is closed for enrollment.


For this course, we're asking you to purchase a book - Fearless Girls, Wise Women, and Beloved Sisters: Heroines in Folktales from Around the World edited by Kathleen Ragan. We have choosen our stories from this book with care. Some will be familiar and some will likely be wholly new to you, but they are all worth examining. Prepare to be fascinated and delighted with tales from all over the world!

Our Modules:

Each week of the course will feature a deep dive into one of these four topics

The Clever Heroine

The clever heroine uses her wit, creativity, and insight to think her way out of problems and achieve her goals. Her intellect is the force she uses to elevate her family, save her skin, or rescue her husband from political intrigue.

The Formidable Heroine

The formidable heroine wears her power on her sleeve, and all who see her know you don't mess with her without consequences. She can wield a blade and crush an army, catch a ghost, or create galaxies in the palm of her hand.

The Adventuring Heroine

The adventuring heroine leaves home to acquire riches, information, or what is rightfully hers. She can infiltrate a foreign land, steal from a giant, or even face down the queen of the fairies in a struggle of wills.

The Feminine Heroine

Being a worthy protagonist or heroine doesn't automatically mean "imitate men as closely as possible." In fact, some of our favorite heroines are unabashedly feminine women who can heal a splintered family with devotion, safely deliver a baby, or harness magic through dance and play.

Your Teachers

We, Dr. Sara Cleto and Dr. Brittany Warman, are award-winning folklorists, teachers, and writers with a combined 26 years in higher education and over three dozen publications. Together, we founded The Carterhaugh School of Folklore and the Fantastic, teaching creative souls how to re-enchant their lives through folklore and fairy tales. In 2019, Carterhaugh won the Dorothy Howard Award from the American Folklore Society.

When we aren’t teaching at Carterhaugh, we're scholars, writers and best friends who have published peer-reviewed articles, appeared on podcasts, sold stories and poems, written book introductions and encyclopedia entries, and written for magazines and blogs. (We’ve also been known to crush “Total Eclipse of the Heart” at karaoke.) We're regular writers for Enchanted Living Magazine, and we also deliver sold-out lectures at venues like the Smithsonian, the Library of Congress, the Profs & Pints series, the Maryland Renaissance Festival, the Contemporary American Theater Festival, and FaerieCon.

We love teaching. Our classes reflect the joy we get out of the strange and delightful world of folklore, so expect lots of gifs and terrible puns in our lectures. We'll occasionally make horrible faces at each other and laugh like drunken pixies… and we want you to join us!

Curious to see what our videos are like?

Check out this short clip from the first week of our course "Rapunzel's Circle I"!

[The audio/video quality is a little wonky - to get this clip onto this page, Brittany resorted to some very creative tech magic. You can expect clearer sound in our live lectures. In this clip, you can see us responding to our students in real-time. We're reading from the live chat that happens alongside each live video!]


  • "Um, what exactly IS Carterhaugh?" - The Carterhaugh School of Folklore and the Fantastic is an award-winning online school dedicated to classes on fairy tales, folklore, and all things fantastic. It was created by Sara and Brittany in 2016 as a place for those who dreamed of elven battles while studying economics, those who have always sworn they could see ghosts, and those who longed for a school of magic to send them an unexpected acceptance letter. We aim to use our knowledge and passion for these subjects to share their wonder, solidify their importance in society, and spread a bit of magic into the world. Want to know more? Check out our "About" page by clicking here!

  • "What if I can’t look at any of the materials that day / can't come to the live lecture?" - You do NOT have to watch the videos on any specific date – they are yours to view whenever is best for you! This is one of the many reasons why online courses work so well – they can fit everyone’s schedule :). The replays of each live lecture will remain up throughout the course, so you can catch up whenever you'd like!

  • “I’m just a folklore fan. I don’t want to ruin my enjoyment with a bunch of academic stuff.” - We are the last people in the WORLD who would ruin your enjoyment of folklore and literature!! Believe us, we’re just as passionate about the beauty and wonder of these tales, and we know that part of that wonder lies in their mystery. We will never tell you what a tale “means." These tales are meant to be explored, meant to inspire personal meaning. We’ll give you folkloric history, and how the tales have been interpreted in the past, but we’ll never tell you what you “have to” believe about any folkloric story and we’re CERTAINLY not the kind of professors who are gleeful about “ruining” folklore for people!

  • “Guys, I love this, but money is SO tight right now….” - We understand this feel so hard. Money is tight for so many. This is why we’ve made this 4 module course as affordable as possible AND packed in all the enchantment, stories, and community you crave right now. We're also offering three different payment plans (and an early bird deal!) to help you find an option that works. Our school is an investment, and it’s one that you deserve - we know our community and the magic we make together is worth it, and we would love for you to join us.

  • “I hate Facebook. Do I HAVE to participate?” - The private Facebook group is really how the course community comes together. Discussion is incredibly active, people are always extraordinarily kind, and it’s seriously like no other discussion form we have ever seen. So while it is absolutely not required, it really does add to your enjoyment of the course if you participate there! We’ve had students make fake names just for our courses before though, so you don’t have to embrace all of Facebook to be a part of our private group! All of this said, if you really, really don’t want to be a part of Facebook in any way, you are free to simply enjoy the community in the live lectures, and talk to us one-on-one via e-mail if you have any questions, want to respond to discussion questions, or have any other thoughts you want to share!

  • "Is this course only for women?" - Absolutely not! We welcome people of all genders to participate!

As always, if you have additional questions at any time, don't hesitate to get in touch with us at [email protected]m!

Featured In:

Okay, time for some real talk

Our community - the students and friends and magic seekers that have found their way into our courses - have been the biggest surprise and the best part of Carterhaugh. It's not something we anticipated, but it's not an exaggeration to say that it's why we're still here, teaching courses online in a job that's better than anything we could have imagined. It's because of YOU.

If you want connection, if you want to hang out and learn in a low-key way with other wonderful people, this community is for you. If you love fairy tales, and you're looking for others who are enthusiastic, creative, imaginative, and kind, welcome home. 

Carterhaugh grew from our love of fairy tales and our own friendship with each other. Carterhaugh is still here and thriving because of the what came after: our community.


We are feminists and disability scholars who support the LGBTQ+ community and believe that Black lives matter.


The gates of Carterhaugh are open...

This course is closed for enrollment.


For this course, we're asking you to purchase a book - Fearless Girls, Wise Women, and Beloved Sisters: Heroines in Folktales from Around the World edited by Kathleen Ragan. We have choosen our stories from this book with care. Some will be familiar and some will likely be wholly new to you, but they are all worth examining. Prepare to be fascinated and delighted with tales from all over the world!

If You've Read This Far...

If you've read this far, clearly something about our school resonates for you. You feel it in your spirit.

You can be the magical soul you want to be. Art and stories can help you get there.

Join us at Carterhaugh - you won't regret it.