01 MW 1:00-2:20 PM 14750 JACKSON ONLINE
Works of Worldbuilding: The Modern Fantasy Novel
Under the rubric “Issues and Problems in 20th Century Literature and Culture,” we will study some of the best fantasy novels of the last one hundred years, including works by T. H. White, Octavia Butler, Ursula K. Le Guin, George R. R. Martin, J. K. Rowling, and Neil Gaiman, among others. Some key questions will guide us: How do fantasy works reflect broader historical and cultural trends? How and why has fantasy fiction captured so much literary market share, especially for Millennials and the generation now in college? Is it about imagining or performing identity? Is its “world-building” a reflection of particular cultural transitions or a way of framing the global implications of political, cultural, and environmental threats? How, finally, can we understand the wildly divergent reactions that fantasy novels engender, from critical neglect and the accusation of “escapism” on the one hand, to intense fan loyalty and identification on the other?