English 65 (03): The Literature of Fantasy

Professor Landow (office: 338 Carr House; e-mail: george@landow.com); office hours: Class meets in 130 Carr (70 Brown Street). I Hour (10:30-11:50am, Tuesday and Thursday). Office hours: 1-2:20, TTh. Course website: The Victorian Web.

Assignments

Weekly discussion questions. The weekly reading and discussion question has three parts: (a) a substantial passage of 1-3 paragraphs (please don't forget page numbers -- and to give your question set a title); (b) a graceful and effective introduction to the passage that suggests why the reader wants to read it; and (c) 4-5 questions, chiefly concerning matters of technique, for which you do not have to have answers. These exercises, which provide the basis of class discussion, should be e-mailed to me no later than 6 pm Monday before we begin discussing the reading; books that occupy two weeks require two questions, one for each week. (You can skip a single set of questions during the semester.) Follow for an example of such reading questions for another course.

Week 1. Thursday, 29 January. Introduction to the fantastic -- fantasy and realism as conventions in the arts.

Week 2. Tuesday, 3 February, and Thursday, 5 February, Fantasy and the nature of audience. Reading: Anne McCaffrey, Dragonsong. Reading and discussion questions.

Week 3. Tuesday, 10 February, and Thursday, 12 February. Fairyland, romance, and the origins of modern fantasy. Reading: (1) John Ruskin, "The King of the Golden River" [text] and (2) George MacDonald, Phantastes. online text (in VW) -- reading and discussion questions.

Week 4. Tuesday, 17 February, and Thursday, 19 February. Religious fantasy for children. Readings: C. S. Lewis, The Last Battle (1954), The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (1950), and The Voyage of the "Dawntreader" (1952), three volumes of the Narnia series. Reading and discussion questions.

Weeks 5 & 6. Thursday, 26 February, and Thursday, 4 March. The Master of Middle-Earth -- J. R. R. Tolkien. Reading: The Lord of the Rings (1954, 1955). Reading and discussion questions. (Suggested additional reading, particularly for those who are well acquainted with the trilogy: The Hobbit, The Silmarillion, and any of Tolkien's scholarly or critical works.) Reading and discussion questions.

Weeks 7 and 8. Tuesday, 9 March, through Thursday, 18 March. Magic, anthropology, and fantasy. Readings: Ursula K. Leguin, the Earthsea trilogy (1968, 1971, 1972). Reading and discussion questions.

Week 9. Tuesday, 23 March, through Thursday, 25 March. Fantasy as subversion. Readings: Lewis Carroll, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (1865) and Through the Looking Glass (1871). Reading and discussion questions.

Week 10: Spring Recess. 27 March through 4 April.

Week 11. Tuesday, 6 April, and Thursday, 8 April. Dreamworlds, dark visions, and Decadence. Readings: (1) Selected tales from Lord Dunsany's The Book of Wonder (online text). (2) H. P. Lovecraft, "The Doom that Came to Sarnath" (1939; text). Reading and discussion questions.

Week 12. Tuesday, 13 April, and Thursday, 15 April. Tuesday, 20 April, and Thursday, 22 April. Heroes, heroism, and contemporary self-reflexive fantasy. Readings: Peter S. Beagle, The Last Unicorn (1968). Reading and discussion questions.

Week 13. Tuesday, 20 April, and Thursday, 22 April. Heroes, heroism, and contemporary self-reflexive fantasy. Readings: Stephen R. Donaldson, Lord Foul's Bane (1977). Reading and discussion questions.

Week 14. Tuesday, 27 April, and Thursday, 29 April. Heroes, heroism, and contemporary self-reflexive fantasy. Readings: Gene Wolfe, The Shadow of the Torturer. Reading and discussion questions.

Reading Period: 30 April-11 May

Related Resources

Books to be purchased for course


Victorian Web Victorian courses Fantasy

Last modified 17 March 2004