Author: Kim Dalton
Major: Creative Writing, Literary Studies
Approved: Spring 2018
Speculative fiction is often dismissed by critics and scholars as an escapist genre with little literary merit. Currently on the rise in popular culture due to the success of books such as J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series and George R. R. Martin’s Game of Thrones, fantasy nevertheless continues to be overlooked as a genre worthy of literary discussion. This is partially due to its frequent reliance on formula and tropes as well as the impossible events and creatures that lurk within fantasy novels. However, these qualities are some of what can make fantasy such a powerful genre to work within. I researched this genre and its conventions, finding inspiration in fantasy novels like Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings series, Susanna Clarke’s Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, and The Magicians by Lev Grossman as well as novels outside of the genre such as Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables and postmodern works by authors such as Kurt Vonnegut, Mark Danielewski, and Haruki Murakami. This research resulted in the writing of a fantasy novel-in-progress which draws upon tropes such as rebels vs. institution, the hero’s journey, and character archetypes to examine the complex socio-political climate of modern-day America.