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ENGL223 Fantasy and the Imagination

An examination of fantasy literature, from Tolkien to Game of Thrones, 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 five multi-volume works of post-World War II and contemporary fantasy, in particular on epic fantasy worlds. War, gender, filmic and literary narrative, and portal quest vs. immersive fantasy will be key issues.

Paper title Fantasy and the Imagination
Paper code ENGL223
Subject English
EFTS 0.1500
Points 18 points
Teaching period Summer School
Domestic Tuition Fees (NZD) $886.35
International Tuition Fees (NZD) $3,766.35

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

Teaching Staff:  Ms Nicola Cummins, Associate Professor Simone MarshallDr Paul Tankard

Paper Structure
This paper is taught in four 1-hour lectures each week, two 1-hour tutorials each week, and one 2-hour seminar for six weeks.

George R.R. Martin, A Game of Thrones (1991) – the first book in “A Song of Ice and Fire”, a long unfinished series of very long books. Reference will be made to other books in the series, but only the first will be closely read.

J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and The Philosopher’s Stone (1997) – the first book in the series; some familiarity with the following six will be assumed.

Ursula K. Le Guin, The Earthsea Trilogy (1968-72) – There were eventually six Earthsea novels, but the first three, A Wizard of Earthsea, The Tombs of Atuan and The Farthest Shore, are a self-contained trilogy (and all are short).

C.S. Lewis, The Chronicles of Narnia (1950-56) – A series of seven short novels. We will closely read the first three: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, Prince Caspian, and The Voyage of the Dawn Treader.

J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings (1954-55) – not a trilogy, but one long novel, to be read in its entirety.


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 2-7
Tuesday 11:00-11:50 2-7
Wednesday 11:00-11:50 2-5, 7
Thursday 11:00-11:50 2-7


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