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Title: Forms of Fantasy: World-Building between the World Wars
Authors: Naydan, Mary
Advisors: Martin, Meredith
Contributors: English Department
Keywords: fantasy
mass media
science fiction
speculative fiction
Subjects: English literature
Modern literature
Film studies
Issue Date: 2023
Publisher: Princeton, NJ : Princeton University
Abstract: Forms of Fantasy: World-Building between the World Wars offers a new understanding of the development of the modern fantasy genre as a mass-market phenomenon in England and America. It gives an in-depth historical account of the genre’s formation from 1920–1940, telling the story of what fantasy looked like before the publication of J. R. R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings trilogy and the postwar paperback book boom that followed. Decentering both Tolkien and the novel, I take a multiformat approach, examining literary texts and cultural objects that—while based in narrative—exceed the traditionally defined boundaries of the novel or short story: the poetry in the pulp magazine Weird Tales, unpublished dramatic manuscripts by W. E. B. Du Bois, the radio plays of Lord Dunsany, and Alexander Korda’s film The Thief of Bagdad (1940). I reconstruct how fantasy took shape within these interwar-era, mass-market formats to examine the social, affective, and ideological functions of genre within self-defined communities. By uncovering a rich archive of magazines, manuscripts, newspapers, and periodicals, I privilege the voices of forgotten readers, writers, listeners, and viewers in showing how a genre is made from the ground up. Ultimately, studying the forms of fantasy beyond the novel at this key moment in the genre’s development not only reveals local processes of genre formation within an exciting new archive of hard-to-classify texts, but also helps us reread fantasy novels—and the history of fantasy—anew.
Type of Material: Academic dissertations (Ph.D.)
Language: en
Appears in Collections:English

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