Who are you?
Hi! We’re Dr. Sara Cleto and Dr. Brittany Warman. We’re 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, where we teach creative souls how to re-enchant their lives through folklore and fairy tales.
We’re also devoted cat minions, gif masters, obsessed with chai, and 100% B.F.F.s of more than a decade. We love red lipstick, decadent Gothic novels, and totally crush “Total Eclipse of the Heart” at karaoke.
What the heck is Carterhaugh?
Carterhaugh is a (mostly) online school. We give lectures and teach courses on fairy tales, folklore, witches, writing, and more. Basically, your ultimate fantasy college courses, for a fraction of the price. We’re serious academics, but we also think learning should be joyful, fun, and relevant. We’ll help you see classic tales with fresh eyes, introduce you to stories you’ve never heard before, and welcome you into a community of magic-makers who love this stuff as much as you do. Instead of tests, we’ll give you quests that bring fairy tales and folklore into your own life. Give us an hour, and we’ll show you how an old tale can shine light into your home, your relationships, and your own sense of self.
So that’s what Carterhaugh is, but it doesn’t quite capture what it feels like. You know those magic schools you’ve always read about? Carterhaugh is the online version. One of our recent students told us that “finding Carterhaugh School is like stumbling into Rivendell.” We think she’s right.
Who is Carterhaugh for?
Carterhaugh is for voracious learners and dreamers with big hearts and creative souls. It’s for people who always have their noses stuck in books or are always half-way through knitting another fantasy shawl. Did you day-dream about elven battles when you were supposed to be studying economics? Do you love a good ghost story…or maybe you’ve even seen a few yourself? Do you still feel a little betrayed that your acceptance letter to magic school never arrived? Then Carterhaugh is for you.
How do you say “Carterhaugh?” And why on earth did you pick this weird name?
It’s Carter-ha! (Like ha-ha-ha!)
And it’s a name from our favorite traditional ballad: “Tam Lin.” Basically, the ballad tells the story of how an awesome young woman named Janet stood her ground against a fairy queen and saved her true love from a gruesome death. Carterhaugh belongs to Janet, and what’s a better name for a folklore school than the land belonging to a fierce, clever heroine?
How did you guys meet?
Sara sat in on a class where Brittany was giving a presentation on Hungarian fairy tales. Brittany was wearing a skirt covered in flowers, and Sara was wearing a giant plaid scarf. Even though we’re both introverted as hell, we ran up to each other after class to compliment each other’s outfits and realized, pretty much instantly, that we were equally obsessed with fairy tales and were going to be best friends. People have been calling us “the fairy-tale twins” for over a decade, though we also occasionally answer to “the Grimm sisters,” too.
How did Carterhaugh start?
Our origin story is one of jetlag, the English countryside, academic panic, and some serious boldness.
In 2016, we were presenting our research at a conference on “Folklore and the Gothic” at a college just outside London. We were staying in the world’s most adorable hotel, but we couldn’t sleep because we were beyond wired with jetlag. So we were in our respective little beds, hissing “are you asleep?” at each other, and then chatting in the darkness about life, the universe, and how much we hate Ross on Friends. Eventually, we got around (as we always seemed to at the time) to the absolute horror of the academic job market and how mad we were that college is so expensive and inaccessible.
We wanted to teach together. We were already building our college courses together and co-teaching whenever we could get away with it. And we wanted to teach the stuff we really loved, to people who wanted to be there, not just to checked-out freshman who had to pass a class to graduate.
Eventually, one of us (we forget who) sat bolt upright and yelled, “WE SHOULD HAVE A CASTLE IN IRELAND AND TEACH ONLY FAIRY TALES TO COOL PEOPLE WHO GET IT.” We decided to start online and see how it went…and we haven’t looked back since!
Ok, but is this really legit?
100%. We both earned our PhDs in English and Folklore from The Ohio State University in 2018 and our MAs from George Mason University in 2012, two of the best folklore programs in the US. We’ve taught dozens of courses, have won numerous awards, and have multiple academic and creative publications both together and separately. In 2019, Carterhaugh received the Dorothy Howard Prize from the Folklore and Education Section of the American Folklore Society, an award that honors those who “us[e] folklore in educational settings in rich and meaningful ways […] both within and outside the classroom.” When we won, they praised us as “a folk school for the digital age”!
Why folklore and fairy tales? Aren’t there more important things to focus on right now?
We teach folklore and fairy tales because we believe that these stories can change the world – and your life.
Folklore is about what makes people tick. It’s about all the things that people do to make sense of the world around them and their own lives. It’s literally the stories we tell and the things we do to understand ourselves and others. And fairy tales are some of the most powerful stories in the world. They’re EVERYWHERE: TV, film, fashion, advertising, art. They shape how we talk and think about romance, politics, family relationships, and even the idea of success. And yet they fly under the radar. They get written-off as frivolous and lightweight and, sometimes worst of all in our society, feminine.
But this is why they pack such a big punch. Folklore and fairy tales have an incredible amount of power, and by learning to see them at work behind the scenes, you can tap into that power. And you can learn to make sense of these stories in new ways. This is life-changing stuff, baby!
Why should I take one of your courses when there’s so much online for free?
We get it: there is SO much free stuff online – articles, stories, databases. And it’s wonderful to have so much information at our fingertips! But here’s the thing: a lot of it is terrible quality or straight-up wrong. Or it’s sprinkled around between 50 different websites. Do you want to have to hunt down everything yourself and weed out the bad information, or would you rather have some fairy godmothers shepherd you through? We really are experts in this. (PhDs ain’t just pieces of paper!) We know exactly how to navigate the paper and digital troves of stories and information, how to make connections, and how to show you unexpected gems you would never have even thought to look up. Plus, one of the most amazing things about Carterhaugh is the community that grows up around our courses, which leads to even MORE connections and resources. Reading a “meh” website, all alone, is a universe away from a bustling, thriving, magical school where you can share your ideas with kindred spirits and insight from professors who have your back.
How can I work with you?
There are a few ways to work with us!
Join us for a course! Want to be the first to know when we’re open for enrollment? Sign up for our newsletter below!
We also have a few self-guided courses and online video lectures, which you can check out by clicking HERE.
If you’d like to work with us for a live event, consultation, or private coaching, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org!