|Posted on Monday, September 19, 2005 - 03:47 pm: |
With apologies for starting a new thread when I still haven't responded to some old ones! (Arg.)
I'm currently teaching a course on Fantasy and the Fantastic. I may be teaching a continuation of the course in the spring. The problem is, I'm not sure what novels to include. This semester I'm teaching Frankenstein, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Carmilla, The Picture of Dorian Gray, and The Island of Dr. Moreau. (That doesn't sound like a lot of pure fantasy, but we start with fairy tales and fantasy short stories.) So I can't teach any of those again.
I think I'd like to include Dracula and The Turn of the Screw. But what else? A Wizard of Earthsea might fit in well, or maybe the whole trilogy? I don't think I have time for a trilogy. I'd love to include Tolkien, but everything's so long. The Hobbit?
In choosing novels for the course, I have to include a certain number of classics--which I'd like to do anyway. But I think I can include some newer novels as well.
Any thoughts on what would be interesting to teach?
(Is there a Lovecraft novel/novella that might work?)
|Posted on Monday, September 19, 2005 - 06:49 pm: |
|Posted on Monday, September 19, 2005 - 09:47 pm: |
Are Gulliver's Travels, Alice in Wonderland, and The Wonderful Wizard of Oz already in 101?
also (and I feel a bit silly, because I don't know what is covered elsewhere, and I don't limit to 'children' designations on some of these books):
The Enchanted Type-Writer - Bangs
The Magic Pudding - Lindsay
Gargantua and Pantagruel - Rabelais
The Twelve Chairs - Ilf and Petrov
Three Fat Men: A Revolutionary Fair Tale - Olesha
Dona Flor and Her Two Husbands - Amado
The Master & Margarita - Bulgakov
Five Children and It - Nesbitt
The Baron Trump books - Lockwood
|Posted on Monday, September 19, 2005 - 09:54 pm: |
But I think I can include some newer novels as well.
Where does Pratchett fit?
Robert Burke Richardson
|Posted on Monday, September 19, 2005 - 10:08 pm: |
^I took a similar course, and enjoyed the opportunity to reread the Hobbit. What are your feelings on The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe? (Except then, of course, you have to do The Golden Compass, and Lilith from the Hebrew myths...).
Jason D. Wittman
|Posted on Tuesday, September 20, 2005 - 09:33 am: |
If you want shorter works by Tolkien, there's "Farmer Giles of Ham" and "Leaf, by Niggle", both of which are found in _The Tolkien Reader_, which you can get (in paperback) at Borders or Barnes & Noble (it also contains his famous essay "On Fairy Stories"). There's also "Smith of Wootton Major" which is published together with "Farmer Giles of Ham" , also in paperback (the title is simply "Smith of Wootton Major / Farmer Giles of Ham"). None of these stories have anything to do with Middle Earth, but they're all good, quick reads.
Hope this helps.
Jason D. Wittman
|Posted on Tuesday, September 20, 2005 - 09:40 am: |
And if you want a Lovecraft novella, how about "In the Mountains of Madness"?
|Posted on Tuesday, September 20, 2005 - 07:56 pm: |
I'm very indifferent about the hobbit sagas, but I grew up reading Tolkien's short fiction, and have fond memories of it. (Take it with a grain of salt, one does tend to embellish childhood memories considerably, and I have no idea how I'd react to these stories today.)
Lovecraft is another "meh" author for me. Interesting to discuss, but painful to actually read.
How about some Italo Calvino, if he's not too modern? He's a lot of fun to read. (Speaking of which, I recently bought a nonfiction collection by Calvino on fairy tales, though I can't tell you how it's like because I haven't read it yet.)
|Posted on Tuesday, September 20, 2005 - 08:27 pm: |
Calvino's fairy tale collection is delicious, Luis; a plum to you for suggesting him. "The Baron in the Trees"?
|Posted on Tuesday, September 20, 2005 - 08:40 pm: |
Reginald Bretnor? A favourite of mine though he might be discounted as having nothing suitable. Loved this line about him: "Reg had a balanced, analytical mind that lacked the egoistical monomania that all writers have who turn out huge quantities of work."
|Posted on Wednesday, September 21, 2005 - 10:46 am: |
I would've loved to take this course college. In terms of a "pure fantasy" novel I'd recommend Dunsany's "King of Elfland's Daughter". For newer fantasy books I'd second Crowley's "Little, Big" (my favorite) and Vandermeer's "City of Saint's and Madman" (although "Saints" didn't exactly bowl me over, "Dradin, In Love" is one of the best fantasy stories I've ever read, and I remember you saying you enjoyed the book, so that could be fun). Ellen Kushner's "Thomas the Rhymer" is a good one as well.
I'd also cast my vote for "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland". If I were a teacher I'd jump at the chance to teach it, since the more I learned about Lewis Carroll, the more I liked his work. For instance, his issues with eating. (The first and last part of the Cheshire cat you see is the mouth). Alice and the Dormouse talk about becoming ill from eating nothing but treacle. And then there's the drug debate. (Mushrooms and the smoking catepillar) Alice gets bigger, then smaller by consuming certain things. Everyone's heard the song "White Rabbit" but not everyone knows that Carroll had such problems with food. After all, if you eat certain things you could get bigger or smaller, depending on what it is you eat. That could make for an interesting discussion or paper. And of course there's Carroll's feelings toward young girls.
You could go old school: Ovid's Metamorphoses.
And maybe Beowulf, although that's technically a poem. So is the Metamorphoses, now that I think about it.
Since you're teaching Carmilla, and considering Dracula, I think you should include Polidori's "The Vampyre" along with Byron's fragment of a novel. (The famous contest which produced Frankenstein and Byrons fragment, which Polidori plagairized to make "The Vampyre" which in turn inspired "Carmilla" which in turned inspired "Dracula".)(My copy of "Dracula" includes "Dracula's Guest" which has a cameo appearance by Carmilla.) But you said you can't teach Carmilla again so maybe next year.
>That doesn't sound like a lot of pure fantasy, >but we start with fairy tales and fantasy short >stories
Do you have an online syllabus of this course? I'd like to know what Fairy Tales and Fantasy shorts you're teaching.
Jason D. Wittman
|Posted on Wednesday, September 21, 2005 - 11:29 pm: |
"(My copy of "Dracula" includes "Dracula's Guest" which has a cameo appearance by Carmilla.)"
So that was Carmilla? Huh. Didn't know that. I've read "Dracula's Guest" (it's included in "The Annotated Dracula", edited by Leonard Wolf, which has a whole mess of footnotes that explain obscure references and such), but I haven't read "Carmilla." Guess I'll have to pretty soon.
|Posted on Thursday, September 22, 2005 - 05:06 am: |
Wow! Thanks for the great suggestions!
Melissa, which George MacDonald were you thinking of? At the Back of the North Wind? The Princess and Curdie? I think I'm definitely going to do one of his short stories.
In general, to all the children's lit. suggestions, I'm not sure about children's books--there's already a Children's Lit. course where they might be covered. But it's an interesting idea.
Where does Pratchett fit?
I actually haven't read Pratchett. Do you think he's college course material? (I ask because I'm just not familar with him.)
I took a similar course, and enjoyed the opportunity to reread the Hobbit. What are your feelings on The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe? (Except then, of course, you have to do The Golden Compass, and Lilith from the Hebrew myths...).
I love The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe! It would be interesting to teach with George MacDonald's Lilith, which is where I think the White Witch originally came from, with some of H. Rider Haggard's She for good measure.
Jason, I'm actually teaching "On Fairy Stories" this semester (actually, this week!). "Smith of Wooten Major" sounds like a great idea. Also, I think I would do "The Shadow Over Innsmouth" rather than At the Mountains of Madness--I just like it better. But I'm definitely thinking of including several Lovecraft short stories.
I'd recommend Hope Mirrlee's Lud-in-the-Mist and John Crowley's Little, Big (although that might be way too long). Gene Wolfe's Peace is excellent, but it's rather hard to find.
I'd love to teach Little, Big. It may be too long, though. Semesters go by so much more quickly than one thinks. Also, the major paper in the course has to be a research paper, which I think will be on Dracula, so I already have one long novel in there. (Dracula really lends itself to research.)
Luis, I haven't read Calvino (shame on me!). Can you recommend something? The course focuses on English and American fantasy, but I'd love to do some Borges, so perhaps it makes sense to have an international section.
Reginald Bretnor? A favourite of mine though he might be discounted as having nothing suitable.
Who's Reginal Bretnor? (Sorry, I haven't had a chance to follow your link yet.)
Greg, "Dradin in Love" would be fabulous. I could teach it with Hoffman's "The Sandman." The only problem is cost--I'm not sure how I could get it to the students in such a way that they could afford it. (I can't ask them to buy a hardcover City of Saints and Madmen--it's just too expensive. I try not to go over about $12 per book, because when you add six novels together, plus any photocopying they have to do, it gets expensive quickly.) But I'd love to find a way, if I could.
I think I'm going to go old school and include The Tempest. If you want to talk about monsters, it's good to start with Caliban. And I think I'm going to do Carmilla (actually, I think I can repeat one book--I just shouldn't repeat too many) and The Vampyre with Dracula. And a couple more vampire stories. The vampire is such a powerful metaphor that it's worth spending some time on, and it would go well with the shadow in Wizard of Earthsea. (I'm going to start with some short stories and theoretical essays on the idea of the shadow.) I'll include some links to my course material in a separate message . . .
Jason, I don't think it was technically Carmilla, but a vampire that was influenced by Stoker's reading of Carmilla, as well as the accounts of Elizabeth Bathory, the countess who was supposed to have done all sorts of terrible things--I think bathing in the blood of beautiful virgins to keep herself young was one of them. You should read Carmilla--I think it's one of the best vampire stories written.
|Posted on Thursday, September 22, 2005 - 05:15 am: |
A short description of the course I'm teaching this semester (the description emphasizes boundaries and boundary-crossing since it's on the IAF website, but we talk about lots of other things as well):
And the actual syllabus for the course from the Speculative Literature Foundaton website (except that the formatting got all funny):
The only difference is that this semester, I'm not teaching Machen's The Great God Pan because it's out of print as a standalone book (though it can still be found in anthologies). So I've substituted two short stories, Stevenson's "Olalla "and Le Fanu's "Green Tea."
|Posted on Thursday, September 22, 2005 - 07:58 am: |
"Where does Pratchett fit?
I actually haven't read Pratchett. Do you think he's college course material? (I ask because I'm just not familar with him.)"
I haven't read all of his books, but either Wyrd Sisters or Witches Abroad would probably be the most appropriate for this class. Wyrd Sisters is a retelling of Macbeth; Witches Abroad references a good amount of other fairy tales and fantastical literature (including Dracula/vampires, Cinderella, Lord of the Rings, Wizard of Oz, Sleeping Beauty, Little Red Riding Hood, and various superstitions.) Carpe Jugulum is entirely about vampires and parodies the conventions of the genre; if you're spending a lot of time with vampires, you might want to consider it.
Pratchett is usually a really quick read, and it's easy to find cheap paperbacks. If you get a chance, look at those two and see if they'll fit with the other works you have in mind.
Jason D. Wittman
|Posted on Thursday, September 22, 2005 - 09:13 am: |
"The only difference is that this semester, I'm not teaching Machen's The Great God Pan because it's out of print as a standalone book (though it can still be found in anthologies)."
Actually, I recently bought a chapbook version of "The Great God Pan" at Dreamhaven Books in Minneapolis. It's published by Fantasy House (6045 Vineland Ave., North Hollywood, CA 91606--sorry, they don't list a website). The chapbook only cost a dollar. I'll try to find out more this weekend.
|Posted on Thursday, September 22, 2005 - 10:30 am: |
"So that was Carmilla? Huh. Didn't know that. I've read "Dracula's Guest" (it's included in "The Annotated Dracula", edited by Leonard Wolf, which has a whole mess of footnotes that explain obscure references and such)"
"Jason, I don't think it was technically Carmilla, but a vampire that was influenced by Stoker's reading of Carmilla"
Yeah Stoker doesn't actually call the vampire Carmilla, and since she's killed at the end of Lefanu's story, it wouldn't make sense chronologically. He does make some strong references though, such as the countess of Gratz and the desolated village. I have a centennial edition which also has footnotes to obscure references and various appendices. The editor says in one of the appendices (or maybe the intro--I can't remember) that the vampire is Carmilla, so who knows.
"Greg, "Dradin in Love" would be fabulous. I could teach it with Hoffman's "The Sandman." The only problem is cost--I'm not sure how I could get it to the students in such a way that they could afford it. (I can't ask them to buy a hardcover City of Saints and Madmen--it's just too expensive. I try not to go over about $12 per book, because when you add six novels together, plus any photocopying they have to do, it gets expensive quickly.) But I'd love to find a way, if I could."
I thought that maybe you'd be able to get it as an ebook from fictionwise or a similar site but did a couple of quick searches and it doesn't seem to be available.
"And a couple more vampire stories. The vampire is such a powerful metaphor that it's worth spending some time on"
Any ideas on what stories you're going to use?
"I'll include some links to my course material in a separate message . . ."
"Carpe Jugulum is entirely about vampires and parodies the conventions of the genre"
I've never heard of it. I'll have to check it out.
|Posted on Thursday, September 22, 2005 - 04:20 pm: |
Wish I could sit in your class, Dora. On the Alice books, I always thought they fit in children's lit till I read Penguin's brilliant, dirt-cheap, Hugh Haughton-edited edition 0_0141439769%2C00.html,http://www.penguinputnam.com/nf/Book/BookDisplay/0,,0_014 1439769,00.html Greg, you'd be wrapped in this one.
I mentioned Pratchett because his popularity is in inverse proportion to his respectability, yet his books aren't just easy reads. Sarah, thanks for planting hair on my bald question.
Bretnor is an almost forgotten minor author, yet quite an original voice. I adore Papa Schimmelhorn, and one of the Schimmelhorn stories, "The Gnurrs Come from the Voodvork Out" is a beautiful introduction to this charming fantasist. btw, "Gnurrs" is, I think, a variation of a story that Calvino put in "Italian Fairy Tales", so who knows what inspired Bretnor?
An aside: I've got to paste in two quotes from the mouths of characters in Steve Aylett's book, "Lint" (my copy is jaundiced now from yellow highlighter). Hector Gramajo:"Writing is a hostile political act, a way of keeping ideas in a book and out of the way." and Observing a Gramajo painting that portrayed bats, a man under a glass, and a few dried dates, Lint said the painting was "better than it looks." "Lint" should be taught in every crit class, or somedamnwhere. But probably its humour will bar it.
Back to the subject: Is it feasable to call for one of JV's publishers to put out a cheap pb college edition of "Dradin in Love", if JV is into this idea? I don't know how this sort of thing is decided/how much presale has to be done.
|Posted on Thursday, September 22, 2005 - 04:30 pm: |
I would love to take this course!
I hadn't picked one GMD story at the time, but afterward The Light Princess kept coming to mind.
The Princess and Curdie is my favorite, personally.
Terry Pratchett's a great idea! And yes, Wyrd Sisters twists all kinds of assumptions about fairy tales.
|Posted on Thursday, September 22, 2005 - 04:40 pm: |
How about one of Angela Carter's novels?
|Posted on Thursday, September 22, 2005 - 06:36 pm: |
I think you should come teach at Bard. Please? We have trees, and a cool name.... ;) -Em
|Posted on Thursday, September 22, 2005 - 08:39 pm: |
Arg! I can't respond tonight because I'm in the middle of grading papers, but I'll try to tomorrow. BUT, Em--did you get my critique? Just checking because I have two addresses for you.
And I would love to teach at Bard. I really do have to finish this degree, so I can teach somewhere--if anyone will want me to, considering the strange literature I'm interested in.
|Posted on Thursday, September 22, 2005 - 10:15 pm: |
Em--did you get my critique? Just checking because I have two addresses for you.
Yes, I got your critique. Thank you very much--it looks really helpful and I did mean to write back, but first I didn't have time to really think about what you said and then I forgot. I'm sorry. It doesn't help that I keep thinking the weekend was only a day or two ago and we're almost to a new weekend already.
I really do have to finish this degree, so I can teach somewhere--if anyone will want me to, considering the strange literature I'm interested in.
I'm taking a class on Victorian Essays and Detectives and I have a friend in a class called Fantastic Journeys, for which she just read one of the Oz books....
And did I mention the trees? They're not quite the same as my trees, which are back at home, but they are quite nice trees, and there are a LOT of them. They make me happy. -Em
Jason D. Wittman
|Posted on Tuesday, September 27, 2005 - 08:52 pm: |
I talked to the people at Dreamhaven Books about those "Great God Pan" chapbooks I was talking about earlier. Here's the situation: Fantasy House, which published these chapbooks, is no longer in business, and Dreamhaven Books has bought out their entire inventory (which consists of two 1-foot-high stacks of "Great God Pan", plus other works by Machen, Lovecraft, and other classic horror authors as well). They said they'd be willing to send them to you for a small fee (I bought my copy for $1), plus shipping and handling. So, if you're interested, you can go to www.dreamhavenbooks.com or e-mail them at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Hope all is well.
Jason D. Wittman
|Posted on Thursday, October 06, 2005 - 08:59 am: |
If you're interested, there's a movie version of "Turn of the Screw", 1961's _The Innocents_, starring Deborah Kerr, that recently came out on DVD. It's very well done. The movie's use of silence in certain spots is very effective.
|Posted on Tuesday, November 29, 2005 - 07:21 pm: |
*grins* And hey, look, now you're teaching at alpha.... (Yay! I'm only sad I won't get to be there.) -Em
|Posted on Wednesday, November 30, 2005 - 08:06 am: |
First time I've seen this thread. I'm a little surprised nobody mentioned Gormengast. At least the first book in the trilogy. Also, if you want to give a broader sampling of short fiction, THE AMERICAN FANTASY TRADITION is an anthology chockful of great fantasy lit, from Washington Irving, Nathaniel Hawthorne and Charlotte Perkins Gilman to Stephen King and Angela Carter. I'll email you the ToC (608 page trade paperback--economical for the students, and full of touchstone works of fantasy)
|Posted on Friday, December 30, 2005 - 11:28 pm: |
Arg! I'm so sorry I've neglected this thread for so long! It's been because of a bad combination of teaching and illness (when I wasn't teaching, one of us was sick, and when we weren't sick, I had to teach, or sometimes we were all sick and I had to teach anyway). But I did have a great semester, with very interesting students . . .
Thanks for the further great suggestions! And thanks for your research, Jason. But I found Great God Pan in an Oxford UP edition of late victorian gothic stories, so I'm going to use that. Jim, thanks for mentioning The American Fantasy Tradition! I actually have a copy, and it has some fabulous stories. Too bad it doesn't come in paperback!
I haven't quite finished my syllabus, but here's what's on it at the moment. A lot of it was determined by the fact that this course has to center around research. So, for example, I had to put A Wizard of Earthsea early in the semester, because there isn't enough criticism out there yet to write a major research paper on it. So, here's where I am right now:
Hans Christian Anderson, "The Shadow"
Ursula Le Guin, "The Child and the Shadow"
Ursula Le Guin, A Wizard of Earthsea
Oscar Wilde, "The Fisherman and His Soul"
Something theoretical on fantasy?
Sigmund Freud, "The Uncanny"
Arthur Machen, The Great God Pan
H.O. Lovecraft, "Pickman's Model"
Saki, "The Music on the Hill"
Edgar Allen Poe, "The Fall of the House of Usher"
Something else by Lovecraft, or Sidney Lanier's "The Kings of the Sea"
Henry James, The Turn of the Screw
Tzvetan Todorov, The Fantastic
Critical responses to Turn of the Screw
John Polidori, "The Vampyre"
Sheridan Le Fanu, Carmilla
Bram Stoker, Dracula
Critical responses to Dracula (a lot of these!)
Mary Elizabeth Braddon, "Good Lady Ducayne"
Fritz Leiber, "The Girl With the Hungry Eyes"
Rudyard Kipling, "The Mark of the Beast"
Saki, "Gabriel Ernest"
Ursula Le Guin, "The Wife's Story"
Algernon Blackwood, "The Transfer"
Suzy McKee Charnas, "Unicorn Tapestry"
As you can see, it's heavily weighted toward vampires, because they make for good research topics. I'm using an excellent anthology called The Oxford Book of Vampire Stories. (That was fun to order for a college class!)
|Posted on Thursday, January 05, 2006 - 06:30 pm: |
If there's a story you want all the Alpha students to read before you arrive to teach, just let me know. Nice list!
If you want to put something up in the appearances section of your webpage, the link is here:
Alpha, the Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror Workshop for Young Writers for 2006:
W - 7/19 - Arrival
Th - 7/20 - Tamora Pierce
Fr - 7/21 - Tamora Pierce
Sa - 7/22 - Timothy Zahn
Su - 7/23 - Timothy Zahn
Mo - 7/24 - Wen Spencer
Tu - 7/25 - Wen Spencer
W - 7/26 - Theodora Goss
Th - 7/27 - Theodora Goss
Fr - 7/28 - Departure to Confluence until 7/30
|Posted on Thursday, January 05, 2006 - 10:33 pm: |
"Snow, Glass and Apples," by Neil Gaiman, is both one of the best retellings of Snow White I've ever read and one of my favourite vampire stories... Though I realise it would probably be impossible to order a bunch of copies of Smoke and Mirrors for that one story. ...But really, EVERYONE should have a copy of Smoke and Mirrors anyway, so...
|Posted on Tuesday, February 14, 2006 - 04:40 pm: |
Just a quick message--I seem to be particularly swamped this semeter--I'm so looking forward to teaching at Alpha (many thanks for inviting me, Diane!). And I've linked from my News page!
I'm actually teaching two classes now--the department asked me to add another one at the last moment, so I'm teaching both Fantasy and the Fantastic and The Gothic. What we're reading this week:
In Fantasy: just finished The Great God Pan, and working on "The Music on the Hill," "Pickman's Model," and "Kings of the Sea." In Gothic: Poems by Poe and Dickinson, which have gothic qualities to them. We just finished Jekyll and Hyde and "Olalla," "Rappaccini's Daughter," and "Barbara of the House of Grebe," which are all great stories.
Swamped with papers, but very much enjoying two interesting classes.
|Posted on Wednesday, February 15, 2006 - 06:41 pm: |
About to start teaching Todorov's The Fantastic again--we did a few chapters earlier in the semester, and are now doing a few more. I'm actually finding Todorov very useful. I taught "The Raven" this week, and realized that it fit Todorov's theory of the experience of the fantastic perfectly.