Portals of Power: Magical Agency and Transformation in Literary Fantasy

Overview

Fantasy writing, like literature in general, provides a powerful vehicle for challenging the status quo. Via symbolism, imagery and supernaturalism, fantasy constructs secondary-world narratives that both mirror and critique the political paradigms of our own world. This critical work explores the role of the portal in fantasy, investigating the ways in which magical nexus points, and movement between worlds, are used to illustrate real-world power dynamics, especially those impacting women and children. Through ...

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Overview

Fantasy writing, like literature in general, provides a powerful vehicle for challenging the status quo. Via symbolism, imagery and supernaturalism, fantasy constructs secondary-world narratives that both mirror and critique the political paradigms of our own world. This critical work explores the role of the portal in fantasy, investigating the ways in which magical nexus points, and movement between worlds, are used to illustrate real-world power dynamics, especially those impacting women and children. Through an examination of high-low fantasy, fairy tales, children's literature, Gothic literature, and science fiction, the portal is identified as an object (or person) of profound metaphorical and cultural significance.

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Product Details

Meet the Author

Lori M. Campbell is a lecturer in the Department of English at the University of Pittsburgh, where she teaches courses on nineteenth- and twentieth-century literature. Donald E. Palumbo is a professor of English at East Carolina University in Greenville, North Carolina. He lives in Greenville. C.W. Sullivan III is Distinguished Professor of arts and sciences at East Carolina University and a full member of the Welsh Academy. He is the author of numerous books and the on-line journal Celtic Cultural Studies.

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Table of Contents

Preface 1

Introduction 5

Pt. I Women and Other Magical Creatures: Portals in Romance and Fairy Tale

1 Who "Wears the Pants" in Faerie? The Woman Question in William Morris's The Wood Beyond the World 23

2 "For I am but a girl": The Problem of Female Power in Ford Madox Ford's The Brown Owl 44

Pt. II Charms, Places, and Little Girls: Portals in Children's Literature

3 E. Nesbit and the Magic Word: Empowering Child and Woman in Real-World Fantasy 63

4 Lost Boys to Men: Romanticism and the Magic of the Female Imagination in J.M. Barrie's Peter Pan and Frances Hodgson Burnett's The Secret Garden 82

Pt. III Haunted Houses and the Hidden Self: Portals in the Gothic, Low Fantasy, and Science Fiction

5 Confronting Chaos at the In-Between: William Hope Hodgson's The House on the Borderland 103

6 The Society Insider/Outsider and the Sympathetic Supernatural in Fantastic Tales by Edith Wharton and Oscar Wilde 120

Pt. IV Haunting History: The Portal in Modern/Postmodern Fantasy

7 One World to Rule Them All: The Un-Making and Re-Making of the Symbolic Portal in J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings 143

8 Harry Potter and the Ultimate In-Between: J.K. Rawling's Portals of Power 163

9 Portals Between Then and Now: Susan Cooper, Alan Garner, Diana Wynne Jones, Neil Gaiman, and Jonathan Stroud 183

Chapter Notes 203

Bibliography 205

Index 213

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