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ENGL223 Fantasy and the Imagination

An examination of fantasy literature, from Beowulf to Harry Potter, and the interaction between the literary and the visual, by way of illustrations, dust jackets, stage-plays, videogames, TV and movies.

This paper will focus on the tradition of fantasy stories, from the highly-wrought worlds of epic fantasy, centred around Tolkien's 'Lord of the Rings',and shorter tales of the mythical and marvellous. Key issues will include adaptation, oral and literary narrative, portal quest vs. immersive fantasy, and childhood and the imagination.

Paper title Fantasy and the Imagination
Paper code ENGL223
Subject English
EFTS 0.15
Points 18 points
Teaching period Summer School (On campus)
Domestic Tuition Fees (NZD) $955.05
International Tuition Fees Tuition Fees for international students are elsewhere on this website.

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One 100-level ENGL paper (Excluding ENGL 126) or 36 points
ENGL 323
Schedule C
Arts and Music
Teaching staff

Professor Simone Marshall

Associate Professor Paul Tankard

Professor John Plotz (Visiting Professor from Brandeis University, USA)

Paper Structure

This paper is taught in four 1-hour lectures each week and two 1-hour tutorials each week for six weeks.


N.K. Jemisin The Fifth Season. Little, Brown Book Group, Orbit (2016).

The Fairy Tales of Charles Perrault [1697], [trans.] Angela Carter (1977), intro. Jack Zipes (Penguin, 2002).

George MacDonald, At the Back of the North Wind, illus. Arthur Hughes (1871). Everyman's Library Children's Classics.

Ursula Le Guin, A Wizard of Earthsea.

Beowulf, trans. Michael Alexander. Penguin Classics.

Sir Orfeo, trans. supplied.

J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings 3. vols, (1954-55) Allen & Unwin single-vol. paperback preferred. Not a trilogy, but one long novel, to be read in its entirety. Recommended, on account of its length, that you read this first

Graduate Attributes Emphasised
Information Literacy, Critical Thinking, Global Perspective, Communication, Scholarship, Self-Motivation.
View more information about Otago's graduate attributes.
Learning Outcomes
As a result of this paper, students will achieve the following outcomes:
  • Gain familiarity with international scholarship on fantasy literature, especially the historical roots of the genre. In-depth Knowledge and Global Perspective
  • Develop the ability to analyse fantasy literature logically, to challenge conventional assumptions and to consider different options and viewpoints. Information Literacy and Critical Thinking
  • Develop the ability to communicate information, arguments and analyses effectively, both orally and in writing. Communication
  • Develop the ability to conduct research by recognising when information is needed and by locating, retrieving, evaluating and using it effectively. Scholarship
  • Develop the capacity for self-directed activity and the ability to work independently. Self-Motivation

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Summer School

Teaching method
This paper is taught On Campus
Learning management system


Stream Days Times Weeks
A1 Monday 11:00-11:50 2-5, 7
Tuesday 11:00-11:50 2-7
Wednesday 11:00-11:50 2-7
Thursday 11:00-11:50 2-7


Stream Days Times Weeks
A1 Monday 14:00-14:50 3-5, 7
Wednesday 14:00-14:50 2-7