Literature of Horror, Fantasy & Sci-Fi

Course Blog for LMST345 Ringling College of Art

Illustration of Harry Ron and Hermione by Mary Grand Pre
This week we are considering the fantasy story directed to an audience of children or young adults as an instrument through which to teach personal and cultural values. These are narratives of application meant not just to entertain but to instruct and to enlighten. The epic tale of Harry Potter is certainly the most well known example of this type of story for most young people today, and if you haven't read Harry Potter, here is your chance. For those who are interested in values education that is somewhat more age appropriate, the recommended work to read this week is Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern, a compelling tale set in an mysterious Edwardian world that features a deadly competition in magic. 

Alternatively you are welcome to read a story built around students at an elite magical college where many of the students have read the Harry Potter books and are magicians the way you are art students. The book is called The Magicians by Lev Grossman.

You might also consider reading the very interesting and deeply considered alternate worlds tale, The Golden Compass the first book in a trilogy by Phillip Pullman. In this work Pullman attempts to construct a framework in which to demonstrate humanist moral values while simultaneous mounting a serious critique of organized religions. Pullman's story is created as a sort of anti-Narnia and certainly proceeds from different assumptions than those that underlie the work of Tolkien or C.S. Lewis.

A fourth option is the series of fantasy stories more in the direct line of Tolkien and C.S. Lewis, The Chronicles of Chrestomanci by Diana Wynn Jones, the author of Howl's Moving Castle.

Or you may want to read A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle a young adult classic that is just now being released as a movie. First published in 1962 it features a diverse approach to the heroic formula of a young person combating cosmic evil. This is often classified as science fiction but it shares many tropes with traditional fantasy literature.


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