The Literary Fantastic

Course information


The Literary Fantastic



Course code







Wed 10-12

Course description

Short description

The course provides an overview of the literary-historical development (since the Enlightenment) and the manifold theoretical problematizations of Fantastic Fiction in English. We shall explore the purest form fantasy along with the amazing variety of subgenres ranging from Gothic ghost stories to postmodern cyberpunk, discussing on our way Romantic tales, Victorian phantasmagorias, high fantasy legendarium, modernist de/mythologizations, magic/al ir/realism, urban fantasy, dystopia, science fiction, steampunk, dark fantasy, paranormal romance, feminist/queer revisions, heroic fantasies of history and religion, contemporary young adult and children’s quest fantasies, horror and body genres, and the filmic fantastic. Students will be familiarized with recurrent themes and critical-theoretical concerns of the fantastic mode such as worldmaking, rhetorics, topography, hesitation, subversion, metamorphosis, mirror images, multiplying selves, bodily disintegration, dis/enchantment, escapism, non-signification, etc. Authors covered include Shelley, Stoker, Stevenson, Wilde, Carroll, MacDonald, Poe, Woolf, Wells, Tolkien, Lewis, Lovecraft, Baum, Le Guin, Bradbury, Herbert, Rushdie, Morrison, Carter, Winterson, Atwood, Burgess, Dick, Adams, King, Rowling, Gaiman, Pratchett, Pullman, Miéville, Martin, Martel, Ness, Burton, Lynch, Miyazaki, etc.


  1. Orientation
  2. Introduction: Historical Origins, Genres, Clusters, Rhetorics, Ways of Reading, Critical, Theoretical Approaches
  3. The Romantic Fantastic, Gothic Origins
  4. Victorian Phantasmagorias
  5. High Fantasy Legendarium
  6. Modernist De/mythologizations
  7. Magic/al Ir/realism
  8. Urban Fantasy, Dystopia
  9. Sci-fi, Steampunk, Cyberpunk
  10. Dark fantasy, paranormal romance, feminist revisions
  11. Quest narratives, Heroic fantasies of history and religion
  12. Postmodern Young Adult fantasy, Contemporary children’s Gothic
  13. Horror and Body Genres

Filmic adaptations of the fantastic from Méliès to Lynch






Requirements to get the grade

Final written exam, Attend min 50% of lectures

Reading list

Robert Louis Stevenson. The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde

C.S. Lewis. The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe

Jeanette Winterson. The Passion

Philip K Dick. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?

Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean. The Wolves in the Walls

Patrick Ness. A Monster Calls


JRR Tolkien. (1939) “On Fairy Stories.” Tree and Leaf. New York: HarperCollins, 2001.

CS Lewis (1952) “Three Ways of Writing for Children.” Of Other Worlds. Essays and Stories. New York: Houghton, Mifflin, Harcourt. 1994. 22-35.

GK Chesterton, (1908) “The Ethics of Elfland.” Orthodoxy. Rockville: Serenity, 2008. 40-56.

Todorov, Tzvetan. “The Uncanny and the Fantastic” in The Fantastic, Cornell UP, 1970.



Suggested reading list

Clute, John and John Grant, eds. The Encyclopedia of Fantasy. 1997. Online edition: