Week 1 (January 13 2013):
A fantasy is an idea with no basis in reality and is basically your
imagination unrestricted by reality. A literature of vision and revision.
Reality is the state of things as they exist. It’s what you see, hear, and
experience. Holding up a mirror to reality.
• It has a pessimistic tone
• It portrays reality of life, without any romanticism or much optimism
• Numerous themes of modern literature included the search within self, the inner dilemma
human beings face, questions regarding existence of God in the modern world,
overwhelming technological changes and the struggle of man to fit in urban life.
• It uses tools like "stream of consciousness", self experience for representing inner mind,
thoughts and views about life.
• No central heroic figure in the story.
• Not sequential and connected events unlike realism literature, with fixed time lines.
• Questions deeply about isolation of an individual in a society fragmented by growth and
development. Characters in modern literature were usually from middle class families.
• It generally dealt with everyday lives of the middle class people.
• The works in realism literature focused on the quality of individual's life, his daily tasks and
that is why, in realism, character is always more important than the plot.
• Events and plot in realism will be reasonable and valid, and truthful. It doesn't discuss
anything that is sentimental or over dramatic
• The most unique feature of realism is that everything, right from characters, plot and
language is free of ornamentation. It is explained as it is, without any decorative language.
Chiasmus: contructive confusion, a crossing of worlds and different ideas; what its supposed to
generate confusion. InsideOutside, Primary World is the world we live in vs Secondary
Visible & Invisible. Why are these worlds at odds?
Subcreation: a large majority of fantasy texts are based on a quest or an adventure; the plot is
the prime motivatorwide range of races and characters (princess, warrior, etc). Sense of
impending doom, the hero cannot be a hero unless it deals with evil. You need something to use
your magic/power on.
Return of the Repressed: fantasy cannot be repressed; it always comes back and explodes
into reality; the things that are unsaid and unthought of in our culture. Rosemary Jacksonfantasy has nothing to do with creating a nonhuman world; it has to do
with this world recombining it’s elements to produce something strange, unfamiliar and new. It is
Phantasticus: Latin route of fantasy, means to make something visible, visionary or unreal. We
are trying to change people’s perspective; it is not dealing with something that is not real but
heavily engaged in the real world.
Desacralization: moving away from the sacredunderstanding through science.
Todorov “The Fantastic” consider the world of the characters as a natural world, never
reduced to one idea or definitive characteristic. Moves back and forth between two
worlds. Structurally, it challenges our ideas about time, space and characters and often
dissolves the relationship between alive and dead ones.
1. It can be subversive
2. The effects are bewilderment, confusion, wonder
3. Translate fantastic codes into social codes
4. An argument between real world and fantasy worlds
5 Short Works of Fiction
Genesis: This is a myth-it is generally obscure and associated with the divine. It
helps relate the world to why were here. We want these questions answered, and
gives us more of an idea of why we live in a world and how humanity came
about. It offers us answers-after getting out of the garden of Eden, humanity has
to suffer. It explains what death is and what comes after. It presents to us
language and how God name everything as well as explains evil and the
rationale of gender roles. It offers us a hierarchal narrative.
“Paul Bunyon”: it is a folk tale-it is a tale about a whole culture “corporate.” It is
the stage in American life where males are full of energy but unaware of what to
do with it. Not all fantasy is subversive and challenging. It seeks to reinforce and
bring values to the world. Paul travels around with his giant blue bull and
personifies America coming to its own. He is innovative, clever. He is
fundamentally different from the rest. Paul builds a huge tower to support
workers who comes to America. It is a nation of immigrants, but in the 19
century America has specific values for work ethics. Paul’s look-out tower is a
tale of a humorous vision of American’s trying to reflect values into people
coming to America. He builds the biggest steam-ship: Is America the best?
“The Secret Life”: Two terms to describes this is escapist and compensation-
story about someone who likes to escape reality. It offers us in many ways a psychological rationale of why we want to escape from our worlds. It dramatizes
the necessary functions of everyday life in fantasy. Fantasy is a necessary
component for our sanity and again, living in this world. He imagines himself as a
hero, Its not always that chivilarist code-Walter imagines himself as a
invulnerable hero, he escapes his boring reality. We enter a world where we have
that agency where we can do heroic things. He is continuously going into
different fantasies and he seems to be much happier here. This is after the
second world war, he is powerful in his fantasies. He always imagines himself in
control because he feels out of control in his real life. He imagines he drinks a lot
and doesn’t get drunk, he is confident with a gun and a master of technology. His
wife’s presence in real life is that she treats him like a child. This story suggests
to us the psychic economy of our world, the compensation fantasies suggest,
“Golding Wings”: written in 1830’s-70’s. You had a place in a class and a specific
place in society. It is none as a world that is increasingly more modern, and may
feel comfortable in. There was clear worlds for mean and women and a small
majority are at the top of the social ladder. Heroism is completely lacking. It
allows for a lot of violence and sex. Defined by iconic figures-knights, etc. In
essence, this story touches on codes of masculinity and how it reflects the
culture around it. Masculinity would be displaced simply from power. Love
concurs all, it is an overwhelming in this world. Passion and violence explode
throughout the story. It reflects a different time way beyond the complexities of
the modern age. Things were much simpler. We see a young boy or man rise
above and takes over-he kills his father and mother dies because she has
nothing to live for. This boy goes from poor boy to knight in shining armor he is
allowed to change his position in the world he rises to his justified place and
eventually marrying Rose. Rose is almost excited about the idea of violence
happening. She is in a sense of rapture. It brings masculinity back to a place
where it can be aggressive-the backdrop is against the industrial world. Mystery
and magic, power and violence run through the story. It offers a nostalgic escape
from the mundane world we live in. It brings internal qualities out to the external
surface. Our problems seem easier to solve.
“The Piano Player”: reveals itself as fiction-subversive-it is subconsciously
playing with the role of the American dream of the perfect family. Merges the
liberal with the figurative. Takes something familiar, and puts it into a different
perspective. This is a story about the failure of expectations. It reveals to us the
violence of gender relations in a family. It offers us despair and disillusionment of
life. What this story is telling us is there’s no heroism-Volvo means stable and
boring; what she wanted was a wild cowboy and she doesn’t get it. The average
guy doesn’t fulfill her life. The wife forgets about her children and husband. How
the story ends is death by piano. She loves to play the piano but because of her
kids, she can’t play and express herself because shes spending all her time
taking care of her family. The piano represents her lost of potential-the fairy tale
prince she’s married to is killed by the piano. If we associate this with her real life
then the piano kills her family expectations. The promise of the American dream is not realized by everyone.
The Lord of the Rings
The text has a number of different themes. It handles much of
what’s happened in the twentieth century. We should be looking for
the unsaid and the unseen. It traces things that have been silenced
and made invisible, things that our culture does not want to talk
Class is very crucial in LTRSam still calls Frodo ‘Sir’ after
knowing him for years. The shire/ Rivendale is a Utopian place.
The characters are constantly talking about the past and
anticipating the future. The entire point is to destroy something that
ruined them in the past.
• He focuses on three specific mystic patterns: the Cosmo
genic myth, the eschatological myth (revelations),
• You can define literature by their heroes, by their
environment and by their relationship to their environment
• The characters have to be superior, however in LOTR people
do not feel like this exactly. Frodo, Aragon, they all struggle.
• One mode below myth is what he calls romance, Aragon has
skills that are superior to others.
• An old order changing and turning into a new one (this is a
part of the LOTR romance)
• Romance literature and the quest narrative focuses on the
passing of an age and reflects the anxieties of these narratives
• Frodo needs to give away all his possessionsthis narrative of
giving things away is about stripping himself bare; seeing
what he’s all about psychologically and spiritually
• These heroes represent history,
February 1 2 14 The Judgement by Franz Kafka:
1. Kafka's self-described mode of literary creation conforms closely
with the notion of a spontaneous creativity, unhampered by rational
constraints, that is propagated by Freud. In a discussion with
Rudolf Steiner, theAustrian founder of anthroposophy (founder of
Waldorf education), which took place in 1911, Kafka described his
creative state as closely related to the trance, or to moments of
peculiar clairvoyance. (See Handout; click here to view handout.)
2. In his discussion with Dr. Steiner Kafka lays out what he sees as
the central conflict of his existence: the tension between his
workaday life as a lawyer in a state-run workers compensation
insurance agency, and his calling as a creative writer. Kafka feels
torn between competing demands for his time and energy: his job,
his family responsibilities, his need for concentrated periods of
time to devote to his writing.
3. In a diary entry written the morning after he composed "The
Judgment" (see handout; click here to view handout), Kafka
describes the emergence of this story from his "unconscious" as a
"birth," as an "opening of body and soul." He valorizes this type of
creative spontaneity as the only valid form of creativity for him,
the only process that produces truly great literature. Kafka would
continue throughout his life to see "The Judgment" as one of his
most successful texts.
II. Story Line of "The Judgment"
1) On the surface, if read as a "realistic" fiction, "The Judgment"
has a relatively simple, but nonetheless seemingly contradictory
story line. Georg Bendemann, a young merchant, writes a letter to
a childhood friend in St. Petersburg, announcing his engagement to
a wealthy woman, Frieda Brandenfeld.-- Georg then goes to report
to his old, decrepit father about the composition of this letter.-- The
father questions the existence of this friend, or his status as "friend."-- The father announces his alliance with the friend and
with Georg's deceased mother. Georg is essentially excluded from
the nuclear family.-- The father accuses Georg of being a devilish
human being and condemns him to death by drowning.-- Georg
accepts and voluntarily executes the sentence pronounced by the
father, dropping himself from a bridge while declaring his love for
2) How can we comprehend the course of the narrative? Why does
Georg follow through on his father's sentence and accept this
condemnation? Is Georg guilty, or is he falsely accused?
III. Ruptures or turning points in the "plot" or development of the
story. Why do they take us as readers by surprise? Because they
take Georg by surprise, and the narrative works from the outset to
locate us inside Georg's head. We view events from his limited
1. First indication that something peculiar is at work: Georg reports 3
times to his friend about the marriage of an "unimportant man" to
an "unimportant woman": "contrary to his [Georg's] intentions" the
friend shows interest in "this notable event" (p. 79). Freud would
call this a "slip," a "parapraxis," in which Georg "unconsciously"
relates the wish (to boast to the friend about his successful
marriage) that he "consciously" tries to hide. What does this say
about his relationship to this "friend"?
2. Georg's fiancee, Frieda, makes assertion that if Georg has friends
like the one in Petersburg, he should not marry at all. (p. 80) What
does Freida mean? Does she imply a homoerotic relationship
between Georg and the friend? Or does she simply believe that if
Georg can't be straightforward in his friendships, he shouldn't be
getting married either?
3. The father questions the existence of Georg's friend and
admonishes his son to be honest, not to deceive him. (p. 82)
4. Episode about the "Russian Revolution" and friend's experience of a Priest inciting a mob to violence. (Historical allusion: "Bloody
Sunday" massacre, St. Petersburg, January 1905: Father Georgy
Gapon.) (p. 83) This historical rebellion against Czar Nicholas II
couched a demand for better labor conditions behind a pseudo-