Thesis Theater: Taylor Johnson Guinan, “Only in Dying Life: Ventures into the Land of the Dead in Children’s Fantasy Literature”

Date & Time




Signum MA student Taylor Johnson Guinan will present her thesis “Only in Dying Life: Ventures  into the Land of the Dead in Children’s Fantasy Literature” and respond to questions from the audience in an interactive Thesis Theater. The discussion will be facilitated by Taylor’s thesis supervisor, Dr. Sara Brown.



Modern children’s fantasy authors often depict the land of the dead as a dark and uninviting stage of a multi-stage death. How and why are these lands commonly depicted? Are there any key commonalities or divergences in the depiction of these lands of death? What is the effect of their depiction? This thesis examines children’s fantasy novels published in the last 30 years that contain a significant depiction of the land of the dead to determine what modern children’s fantasy authors are doing specifically, which may differ from previously published works. While the land of the dead is normally separated from life, dark, uninviting, and dangerous, the living’s journey through the land of the dead results in a greater appreciation for life, or reveals that the land of the dead is only a temporary transition stage to something greater, such as rebirth into life or an undescribed beyond. This revelatory experience replaces fear with peace and hope when death comes.


About the Presenter

Taylor Johnson Guinan holds a Bachelor of the Arts in Secondary Education with an emphasis in English from Arizona State University. In their honors program, she wrote her senior thesis on the benefits of using Science Fiction and Fantasy literature in the classroom accompanied by an implementable curriculum all titled “The Origins of Science Fiction and Fantasy in British Literature”. In 2015, she published a review of Shadow of the Wolf by Tim Hall in the Journal of Adult and Adolescent Literature, and at the 2021 Mythmoot she presented the paper “The Dystopian Looking Glass: Propaganda in Harry Potter and the Hunger Games.”


About Signum Thesis Theaters

Each of our master’s students writes a thesis at the end of their degree program, exploring a topic of their choice. The Thesis Theater is their opportunity to present their research to a general audience, and answer questions. All are welcome to attend!

Signum University Thesis Theater

Join us on May 7th at 12pm ET for a Thesis Theater to explore this journey into Children’s Fantasy.