Modern Fantasy I

Disclaimer: The information on this page is provided as an overview. The course outline, readings, and assignments may be subject to change in the final syllabus as determined by the lecturer and/or preceptors.

In this class, we will examine the work of some of the top fantasy writers of the last fifty years.  The works we will discuss in this class do not constitute an orderly or systematic survey of the development of the fantasy genre, but rather a series of case studies. We will read six books by six different authors. As we discuss each book, we will compare and contrast the authors’ approach to fantasy and subcreation, myth and magic.

This term, we will explore Peter Beagle’s shrewd contemplation of fantasy and the fairy-tale tradition in The Last Unicorn and Ursula K. Le Guin’s classic of modern subcreation, A Wizard of Earthsea. We will look at several works which conceptualize the frontiers between our mundane world and the realm of Færie; Neil Gaiman’s Stardust and Jim Butcher’s Summer Knight both give us stories of humans with a magical heritage who cross this frontier and become embroiled in the high matters of Faerie. Garth Nix’s Sabriel is also focused on frontiers, dealing not only with a boundary between the mundane and the magical, but also with a parallel boundary between life and death. We will also tackle George R. R. Martin’s A Game of Thrones, the first volume of The Song of Ice and Fire, which might be the most massive and intricate subcreative undertaking in literature in the last fifty years.

Course Schedule

Weeks 1 & 2

The Last Unicorn by Peter Beagle – Includes a special guest lecture by Peter Beagle

Weeks 3 & 4

A Wizard of Earthsea – Ursula K. Le Guin

Weeks 5 & 6

Stardust by Neil Gaiman

Weeks 7 & 8

Summer Knight by Jim Butcher

Weeks 9 & 10

Sabriel by Garth Nix

Weeks 11 & 12

A Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin

Required Texts

The Amazon links are provided for convenience only, and we encourage students to purchase the text wherever they wish.

Course History

This course has been offered in the following semesters.

Fall 2019Kris Swank & Sparrow Alden
Summer 2012Dr. Erin Aust & Dr. Sara Brown
Modern Fantasy

This course explores fantasy literature written within the past 50 years, with an examination of the works of six top modern fantasy authors: Peter Beagle, Ursula Le Guin, Neil Gaiman, Jim Butcher, Garth Nix, and George R. R. Martin.

START: August 26, 2019

DURATION: 12 Weeks

ID: LITA 5304