Creating Imaginary Literature Courses

Prompted by Dr Daniel on Twitter, I began creating an imaginary literature course on Myth and Fantasy that consisted on only female writers.

@GhostingDani As a Goth this is a relatively easy task for me, but: What would your survey course (of any major period/literary movement) look like without the men?                           @kar_took Could one do a myth and fantasy course that skipped MacDonald, Lewis, Tolkien and Pullman? I know, someone give me an academic job so I can test it out…

With a little help from a few colleagues and friends, whose suggestions you can read in the twitter thread, I’ve come up with the following course reading list outline. Given the size, this is most likely for a masters programme. Now I really mean it; someone needs to hire me to teach this.

Myth and Fantasy Fiction

Primary Texts

  • Christine de Pizan, The Book of the City of Ladies (1409)
  •  Margaret Cavendish, The Blazing World (1666)
  • Sarah Coleridge, Phantasmion (1837)
  • E. Nesbit, Five Children and It (1902)
  • Inez Haynes Irwin, Angel Island (1914)
  • Hope Mirlees, Lud-in-the-Mist (1926)
  • Sylvia Townsend Warner, The Cat’s Cradle Book (1940)
  • P. L. Travers, Mary Poppins (1934) or Ruth Plumly Thompson, Ozoplaning with The Wizard of Oz (1939)
  • Naomi Mitchison, Travel Light (1952)
  • Ursula Le Guin, The Wizard of Earthsea (1968)
  • Susan Cooper, The Dark is Rising (1973)
  • Octavia E Butler, Kindred (1979)
  • Margaret Atwood, The Handmaid’s Tale (1985)
  • Diana Wynne Jones, Howl’s Moving Castle (1986)
  • Tamora Pierce, Wild Magic (1992)
  • Alice Hoffman, Practical Magic (1995)
  • J K  Rowling, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (1999)
  • Tanith Lee, White as Snow (2000)
  • Cecilia Rees, Witch Child (2000)
  • Isabel Allende, City of the Beats (2002)
  • Melissa Marr, Wicked Lovely (2007)
  • Nedi Okorafor, Who Fears Death (2010)
  • N. K. Jemsin, The Killing Moon (2012)
  • Jeanette Ng, Under the Pendulum Sun (2017)
  • Jane Yolen, Finding Baba Yaga (2018)
  • Kirsty Logan, Things We Say in the Dark (2019)

Secondary Texts

  • J. R. R. Tolkien, ‘Tree and Leaf’
  • Diana Wynne Jones, The Tough Guide to Fantasy Land
  • Angela Carter, ‘Notes from the Front Line’
  • Susan Sellers, Myth and Fairy Tale in Contemporary Women’s Fiction
  • Brain Attebery, Stories about Stories: Fantasy and the Remaking of Myth
  • Farah Mendlesohn, Rhetorics of Fantasy
  • Mark J P Wolf, Building Imaginary Worlds
  • Robert A Segal, Theorizing About Myth
  • Diane Purkiss, The Witch in History
  • William Gray, Fantasy, Myth and the Measure of Truth : tales of Pullman, Lewis, Tolkien, MacDonald and Hoffmann
  • Dimitra Fimi, Celtic Myth in Contemporary Children’s Fantasy: Idealization, Identity, Ideology
  • William K Ferrell, Literature and Film as Modern Mythology
  • Henry Jenkins, Convergence Culture: Where Old and New Media Collide
  • Laura Feldt, The Fantastic in Religious Narrative from Exodus to Elisha
  • Griselda Pollock, ‘Beyond Oedipus: Feminist Thought, Psychoanalysis, and Mythical Figurations of the Feminine’ in Laughing with Medusa: Classical Myth and Feminist Thought

There’s are lots of worthy inclusions that I have missed, and I’d have to give much more thought to the secondary pieces, but that’s a fairly good start for a survey course on myth and fantasy fiction with only women writers.

What texts, primary or secondary, would you include if you were running a course like this?


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