Fall 2022 Undergraduate English Courses

358:255 Introduction to Modern Literary Fantasy

01    MTH3    07901    JACKSON    HH-A7

We will study some of the most popular fantasy novels of the past century, including works by T. H. White, Ray Bradbury, Ursula K. Le Guin, J. K. Rowling, Robin Hobb, Holly Black, 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 captured so much literary market share, especially for Millennials and Gen Z audiences? Is it about imagining or performing identity? Is its “world-building” project a reflection of 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?  In answering these questions, we will explore what game theory (board and role-play games (RPG) and virtual reality simulation) can teach us about the novel and reading experience.