Reading the Fantastic: History, Theory and Genres
What makes a text "fantastic"? Are there any common features in the texts representing "the ghostly", "the grotesque", "the magical", "the futuristic", "the scientific", "the fairy", "the ideal", and "the nightmarish"? Is it appropriate that the works highlighting these phenomena are classified as belonging to the unified field of "fantastic fiction"? Critics have been debating the issue of fantasticality for more than a century. In this course, through close reading a substantial number of canonical speculative texts and the related criticism, we shall discuss the ways the fantastic has developed and its major genres appeared. We shall determine how different genres meet specific expectations of readers. The course will provide the understanding of Fairy-Tale, the Gothic Horror, Science Fiction, Utopia and Fantasy, as well as the key terms and concepts associated with them. We shall discuss how their themes reflect contemporary cultural concerns and we shall critically discuss the theme of "otherness" in all these genres, and the specific role of "monstrosity" in each.