Fantasy literature, often derided as superficial and escapist, is one of the most popular and enduring genres of fiction worldwide. It is also—perhaps surprisingly—thought-provoking, structurally complex, and relevant to contemporary society, as the essays in this volume attest. The scholars, teachers, and authors represented here offer their perspectives on this engaging genre.
Within these pages, a reader will find a wealth of ideas to help teachers use these texts in the classroom, challenging students to read fantasy with a critical eye. They employ interdisciplinary, philosophical, and religious lenses, as well as Marxist and feminist critical theory, to help students unlock texts. The books discussed include epic fantasy by such authors as Tolkien and Le Guin, children’s fantasy by Beatrix Potter and Saint-Exupéry, modern fantasy by Rowling and Martin, and even fairy tales and comic books. The contributors offer provocations, questioning the texts and pushing the boundaries of meaning within the fantasy genre. And in doing so, they challenge readers themselves to ponder these tales more deeply.
But through each of these chapters runs a profound love of the genre and a respect for those who produce such beautiful and moving stories. Furthermore, as with all the books in this series, this volume is informed by the tenets of critical pedagogy, and is focused on re-envisioning fantasy literature through the lens of social justice and empowerment. Prepare to be challenged and inspired as you read these explorations of a much-loved genre.