Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Questioning Fantasy: A Guide to My Students' Response Essays from ENGL 299

Here are the questions my Fantasy Fiction class generated at the start of the Fall 2010 semester, along with links to their response essays that addressed specific questions:


Defining Fantasy

Fantasy's Varieties, Relatives, and Neighbors

Origins and Development of Fantasy
  • When did fantasy start?
  • What author embodies the start of the genre fantasy fiction?
  • What distinguishes fantasy per se from its predecessors, influences, and so on?
  • How did fantasy develop?
  • What are the key turning points or transformations in the history of fantasy?
  • Will fantasy, as a genre, ever die out or become dated?
  • Do genres have life cycles?


Quality of/in Fantasy

Fantasy's Functions, Purposes, Uses

Studying Fantasy


  • Is magic in fantasy analogous to science/technology in science fiction?
  • What role does religion play in the writing of fantasy fiction? Mike Bayba, Josh Jerome, Hannah Morris, Casey Takacs, Steph Ward, Erica Yunghans
  • Are modern authors as heavily influenced by religion as Tolkien and Lewis were? If not, is that a product of our times? If yes, could it be argued that since so many were influenced by Tolkien and Lewis as forerunners of the genre, who were themselves heavily influenced by religion, modern authors are just as heavily influenced by religion, whether they realize it or not?
  • Why is identity (especially the quest for one's identity) one of the most common themes in fantasy fiction? anonymous, Kayla Carucci, Josh Jerome, Tiffany Wood
  • How do fantasy fiction stories relate to their time period and culture? Kristian Everett, George M., Hannah Morris, Matt Pisarski, Erica Yunghans
  • How many new ideas and stories can a fantasy author come up with, without repeating a story?
  • There are only so many mythological creatures, and it seems like the good v. evil story is getting redundant. How do fantasy writers stay original? Gabrielle Fletcher
  • What is the process of writing a fantasy fiction novel? How much time and commitment goes into fabricating a new world? Adam Glasier, Tiffany Wood

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