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Oxford and Fantasy Fiction (ENGL02)

16th May 2020

The literary genre of ‘fantasy fiction’ was forged in Oxford. The four most successful and influential fantasy worlds were created in here: Lewis Carroll’s ‘Wonderland’, J.R.R. Tolkien’s ‘Middle-earth’, C.S. Lewis’s Narnia’ and the darker, contemporary world created by Philip Pullman for ‘His Dark Materials’; so, these texts form the heart of this class. We will explore the physical and intellectual landscape of Oxford and how it influenced the imaginary worlds of these authors. The course considers the nature of myth, allegory and symbolism in the fantasy genre; also, we will study the medieval literature which inspired it – from the Anglo-Saxon riddle and elegy to medieval romance and Arthurian literature. We will also consider film adaptations, and whether fantasy is less an escape from the modern world than a way to understand and criticise its values.

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