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Speculative Literature: Fantasy

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Language Arts
Instructor: Josh Shaine
5-10 students
Suggested Age Ranges: 13+ years old
Meets: Thursdays at 4:00 pm - 5:00 pm Eastern US Time


Welcome to Fantasy.  This genre of literature tries to explore what the world would be like if there were magic in the world, in one form or another.  Whether  that comes from powers that an individual (magicians, witches, sorcerers, etc.) has; the presence of divergent beings (elves, gnomes, changelings, etc.), strange animals (unicorns, gryphons, rocs, etc.), or some other elements, it is the essence of magic that ties them together, usually. Exploring this field -- which may take the form of novels, short stories, essays, movies, TV shows, games, or websites – carries the reader/participant into impossible worlds, often filled with wonders that stretch the imagination.

Over the course of the term, we will discuss a broad variety of types of fantasy, while reading (hearing), watching, and looking at examples (good and bad) that illustrate those types. With one exception, all materials will be available on line at no cost for people within the United States. I expect that I can make them available for others if they should not be accessible from other countries.

We will have a few exercises along the way. Any writing or presentations you do will receive feedback. If you are willing, I would like to share it with the class.

Regardless, the number one goal is to have fun!



Week 1: Introduction; Discussion of Syllabus; Sub-genres

Week 2: Just Add Dragons – Alternate Histories born of fantasy; Exercise One: Explaining Technology

Week 3: The Major Races of Fantasy

Week 4: Mixing Animals and Humans

Week 5: Medieval Europe as a Basis for Fantasy; Exercise Two: The Project

Week 6: Fairy Tales and Mythology

Week 7: Religion as a Basis for Fantasy

Week 8: Magic the Destroyer; Magic the Creator

Week 9: What’s Your Fantasy doing on My Alien World?

Week 10: The Rise of Romance

Week 11: Urban Fantasy

Week 12: The Hero’s Journey, Lord of the Rings, and How They Changed the Field

Week 13: Harry Potter and How He Changed the Field

Week 14: “Where Do We Go From Here?”

Week 15: Presentations; Summation

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