Research Student, Associate Lecturer
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Associate Lecturer for English 101
On July 4th, 2014, we held the 1st annual Fantastika conference (Visualizing Fantastika) at Lancaster University. I, along with my commitee members, have the honour of guest editing a special edition of The Luminary journal (the postgraduate and early careers journal produced in the department by Chloe Buckley), with papers based on the Visualizing Fantastika conference.
The theme for the 2nd annual Fantastika conference is Locating Fantastika. The CFP is yet to be released but early details can be found at this website: http://fantastikaconference.wordpress.com/
I am also organizing an alternate history conference in partnership with Glyn Morgan at Liverpool University. The conference will be held late March of 2015. Details can be found here: http://sidewaysintime.wordpress.com/
My thesis will be examining motifs of time and space in the epic fantasy genre, specifically novels from 1990s and onward. For the purposes of this thesis, the “epic” will be defined by a journey (literal or metaphorical) through which the hero(es) achieves transcendence. By transcendence, I mean the ability to cross boundaries between worlds, and especially that between life and death.
There are several modes of time and space working in epic fantasy. The hero, of his or her own free will, functions as a pawn or avatar for a God, choosing to follow the path (or fate) that the God has set out for him or her. In this way, the hero operates at a crossroads between fixed or fluid time, where time is depicted as closed but the hero must function as if it is open. Either models of time suggest a linear time, but the repetition of events for the hero suggests a cyclical time. Furthermore, the social structure in epic fantasy is motivated by the system of magic present in the novel, a system that is entropic. Accordingly, in order to avoid an apocalyptic ending, there must be a balance between the forces of “good and evil,” or, more specifically, between order and chaos. The hero must function as a bridge between both forces, as he or she is a catalyst that brings a new equilibrium (a new order or Eden) to the world by being an agent of change (chaos). The combination of an entropic system with a catalyst that introduces a new equilibrium results in a cyclical model of time. While repetitive patterns in sequels reinforce the idea of this cyclicality, there are enough differences between the patterns to suggest that the cycle is not exact or ‘one-directional.' Accordingly, I argue that narrative time operates under a cyclical model that is chaotic. Although chaos theory is usually used to examine sciences, I propose that the theory can also be used to examine the literary system of narrative time in the fantasy genre. The chaotic Lorenzian Waterwheel model can describe the cycle, where the cycle can speed up, slow down, or even reverse itself.
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