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Instructor Class Description

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Daniel C Nelson
ENGL 242
Seattle Campus

Reading Prose Fiction

Critical interpretation and meaning in works of prose fiction, representing a variety of types and periods.

Class description

COURSE TITLE Fantastic Worlds in Fiction

COURSE DESCRIPTION This course will engage texts both historical and modern that feature the internal mapping of a bounded, fantastic alternate world as an essential characteristic of their plots. Because such texts are often seen as simply metaphoric, allegorical, or utopian, in the course we will focus on texts in which the narrative “worlding" is used in the text not as part of a philosophical, moral, or mythological concern. We will therefore engage these worlds—and their creation—as complex units of narrative work in the texts we examine, and attempt to formulate the parameters of that work.

Throughout the course, students should expect to interact with the following concerns and questions, among others: What is the narrative purpose of creating an alternate world in fiction? To what extent do fantasy worlds coincide with the rules authors follow to create fictional places? To what extent do they transgress the rules of “normal" setting-creation? What is the interaction between fantasy worlds and the characters that inhabit them? To what extent is fantastic world-making culturally bounded, and to what extent does it separate itself from its historical moment? In formulating these questions, we will utilize the work done by both narrative and fantasy-genre theorists in order to establish a collective set of terms to address the problem of world-creation in fiction.

W-STATEMENT As per its status as a Writing elective at the University of Washington, this course will require students to write two short papers (2-3 pages) and one long paper (5-7 papers) relative to the concerns and texts in the course.

TEXTS Course Reader Carroll, Lewis. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland & Through the Looking-glass. Norton Critical Edition. (1992) ISBN: 978-0-393-95804-1 Cavendish, Margaret. The Blazing World and Other Writings. Penguin Classic. (1994) ISBN: 9780140433722 Rowling, J. K. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. Scholastic Paperbacks. (1999) ISBN: 978-0590353427 Shakespeare, William The Tempest. Norton Critical Edition. (2003) ISBN: 978-0-393-97819-3

Student learning goals

General method of instruction

Recommended preparation

Class assignments and grading


The information above is intended to be helpful in choosing courses. Because the instructor may further develop his/her plans for this course, its characteristics are subject to change without notice. In most cases, the official course syllabus will be distributed on the first day of class.
Last Update by Daniel C Nelson
Date: 08/01/2010