The creation of the universe. The mind wandering. Monsters in the dark. Fates foretold. Miraculous happenings. Travels to mysterious lands. These are the fantastic depths and distances of our literary imagination, extending to the ends of our perception and beyond.
The imagination relates to our fundamental power as writers and readers to create images both in order to assist in our understanding of the world and to provide us with the power to shape our reality. Fantasy thus becomes an important tool for understanding.
This course poses the questions: how have authors moved beyond depictions of myths to create genres of fantasy, and how have themes of fantasy and the imagination been used to shape the reader’s experience of literature? In this course students will read a variety of materials from a range of literary traditions: geographically from medieval and modern Europe, North America, and Southeast Asia. Through a comparative approach to these readings, students will develop an understanding of how fantasy themes develop in a wide field of cultural and literary traditions.