Modern Fantasy II

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.

The Modern Fantasy course provides a thoughtful sampling from the diverse world of fantasy in the post-Tolkien age. Fantasy literature has a long and robust history, of course, which is as long as the history of stories themselves, but the astonishing popular success of The Lord of the Rings led to a remarkable proliferation of fantasy storytelling that has only continued to grow over the last sixty years.

The Modern Fantasy course is designed to explore some of the different frontiers of this fascinating literary landscape. Through careful readings of a mixture of books from different authors in different eras and with diverse approaches to fantasy, we will consider some of the ways in which writers of the last few generations have approached the fantastic. As we do, we will think about the purpose and the value of reading fantasy in the modern world, as well as the challenges of writing it.

This semester’s course is called Modern Fantasy II, not because it has a prerequisite or because it is part of a linear sequence, but merely to indicate its separation from the earlier version of the course, which I taught back in the summer of 2012. Although the purpose of the class is the same, the books we will be reading are completely different. Students who enjoyed the first installment of this class are very welcome to take this second version as well!

This semester, the class will begin with an examination of fantasy authors’ interactions with mythology and history. We will begin by reading Katharine Kerr’s exploration of Celtic tradition in Daggerspell. In The Furies of Calderon, Jim Butcher imagines a society that grew from the displacement of a Roman legion into a magical world, while in Hard Magic, Larry Correia re-imagines early twentieth-century America after the appearance of peculiar magical talents in certain individuals starting late in the nineteenth century. Finally, we will look at three very different and more independent subcreations in David Eddings’s Belgariad (of which we will read the first two volumes, Pawn of Prophecy and Queen of Sorcery), Anne McCaffrey’s Dragonflight, and Patrick Rothfuss’s Name of the Wind.

Course Schedule

Introduction: What is Fantasy and what is it good for?

“On Fairy-Stories,”  J.R.R. Tolkien

Part I: The Green Sun

Daggerspell, Katharine Kerr (1986)

  • Prologue, first two sections (1-118)
  • Third section (119-179)
  • Fourth section (181-347)
  • Fifth section (349-414)

Furies of Calderon, Jim Butcher (2005)

  • Prologue – Chap. 12 (1-124)
  • Chap. 13 – 24 (125-218)
  • Chap. 25 – 35 (218-326)
  • Chap. 36 – 47 (327-440)

Hard Magic, Larry Correia (2012)

  • Prologue – Chap. 6
  • Chap. 7 – 14
  • Chap. 15 – 22
  • Chap. 23 – Epilogue

Part II: Secondary Worlds

The Belgariad, David Eddings (1986)

  • Pawn of Prophecy, Prologue – Part 1 (1-155)
  • Pawn of Prophecy, Part 2 (157-258)
  • Queen of Sorcery, Prologue – Part 1 (1-140)
  • Queen of Sorcery, Part 2 – 3 (141-327)

Dragonflight, Anne McCaffrey (1986)

  • Part 1 (1-84)
  • Part 2 (85-143)
  • Parts 3 – 4 (145-286)

The Name of the Wind, Patrick Rothfuss (2008)

  • Prologue – Chap. 22
  • Chap. 23 – 46
  • Chap. 47 – 70
  • Chap. 71 – Epilogue

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.

Spring 2020Dr. Sara Brown & Sparrow Alden
Spring 2016 Dr. Erin Aust & Dr. Sara Brown

Course Artwork

Course artwork adapted from “The Towers of Valyria” by Ted Nasmith. Used with permission. All rights reserved.

Modern Fantasy II

This course explores fantasy literature written over the past 60 years with an examination of the works of six modern fantasy authors.

START: January 13, 2020

DURATION: 12 Weeks

ID: LITA 5313