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ENG 451

Seminar in Literature

Concentrated study of a topic in literary studies. Prerequisite: two 300- or 400-level courses in literature. Required of majors in English with emphasis on literature. May be repeated once for credit.

Distribution Area Prerequisites Credits
Two 300- or 400-level courses in literature. Required of majors in English with emphasis on literature. 1 course

Fall Semester information

Istvan Csicsery-Ronay

451A: Seminar in Literature: Modern Fantastic Fiction

In this course we will explore some major works of recent fantastic fiction. We will investigate fantasy in several of its aspects: as a literary genre, as a psychic mechanism, as a metaphysical operation, and as a political act. We will take up the question, how does social history affect fantasy, and vice-versa; what purposes does fantastic fiction serve for its audiences? We will examine traditional motifs of the genre (multiple worlds and magic portals, secret knowledge, drastic metamorphoses, the animated universe, mystical powers) and its traditional thematic conflicts (between the archaic and the modern, private worlds and the shared universe, will and law, the grotesque and the conventional, the carnival and the normal). Although Tolkien's work is important for any study of late 20th century fantasy, this course will touch on his writings, and the genre of heroic fantasy, only tangentially. We will concentrate instead on works and writers who have tried to make original fictions that do not fit into conventional subgenres of fantasy.


Spring Semester information

Deborah Geis

451A: Seminar in Literature: Literature and Material Culture