I have a bad habit of letting this blog lie fallow for months at a time, and then posting something somewhat apologetically and promising to get back into regular posting. Well, I guess it’s that time again! At least this time I posted something substantive without comment first, but now I feel I should offer some explanation for what will hopefully be a more productive summer of blogging.
I’m extremely excited about my fall term: for one thing, I will once again be teaching English 3811: The Lord of the Rings. When I taught this course for the first and so far only time four years ago, I posted an awful lot under the header “Return to Middle-Earth.”
I mean to do a lot more of that, both over the summer and during the term.
I will also be teaching a graduate course that I’ve been working up to over the past two years or so:
As my ever-so-clever title suggests, the course will be looking at the intersection between “magic worlds,” as in the world-building and creation of alternative realities in fantasy, and “magic words,” as in the role played by language in the figuration of magic and conjuring, as well as the way in which these imaginary worlds are linguistic and semantic creations.
As you might imagine, that’s a lot of ground to cover in just thirteen weeks, so the reading list is by necessity somewhat eclectic and wide-ranging:
Anonymous, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight
Jorge Luis Borges, Labyrinths
Italo Calvino, Invisible Cities
Neil Gaiman, Sandman: Season of Mists
Lev Grossman, The Magicians
N.K. Jemisin, The One Hundred Thousand Kingdoms
Ursula K. Le Guin, A Wizard of Earthsea
John Milton, Paradise Lost
Thomas More, Utopia
Terry Pratchett, Witches Abroad
Vernor Vinge, True Names
(Students will also be enjoined to have The Fellowship of the Ring and The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe under their belts before classes start).
A big chunk of my summer is going to be devoted to prepping this class, both because of the rather large scale of material it entails, but also because doing so feeds into my current research preoccupations. I’ll be posting as I go, using this blog as I so often do: as a means of thinking out loud.
Look for a multi-part series on the whole “expanded universe” phenomenon to lead us off, coming soon.