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Fantasy Literature

Fantasy Literature has emerged as one of the most important genres over the past few decades and now enjoys extraordinary levels of popularity. The impact of Tolkien’s Middle-earth works and the serialisation of George Martin’s ‘Game of Thrones’ books has moved these and their contemporaries into mainstream culture. As the popularity grows so does interest in the roots of fantasy, the main writers and themes, and how to approach these texts.
Oxford is a natural home to fantasy literature with those who worked or studied here having written so many famous and influential texts (e.g. Lewis Carroll (C. L. Dodgson), C. S. Lewis, J. R. R. Tolkien, Susan Cooper, Diana Wynne Jones, Alan Garner, and Philip Pullman to name but a few) – leading to the notion of an ‘Oxford School of Fantasy’. These lectures, short talks, and interviews seek to take listeners into these works and these writers and beyond.
All material released under Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 2.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/ .
[Artwork by Minjie Su.]

# Episode Title Description People Date
1 Fantasy Creatures Dr Caroline Batten and Dr Megan Cavell discuss fantastic animals in fantasy text Caroline Batten, Megan Cavell 29 Sep 2021
2 Is Jin Yong 'China's Tolkien'? A comparison of the Hong Kong author Jin Yong and J. R. R. Tolkien Jonathan Hui 06 Sep 2021
3 A Conversation with Katherine Langrish Dr Caroline Batten chats with author Katherine Langrish about her book 'From Spare Oom to War Drobe' Caroline Batten, Katherine Langrish 31 Aug 2021
4 Faith in fantasy literature A short discussion of the role of faith in fantasy literature Katherine Olley 30 Jul 2021
5 Brian McClellan A discussion of the writer Brian McClellan. Katherine Olley 30 Jul 2021
6 Arthur Rackham at Trinity College Emma Sillett, Trinity College Librarian, and Dr Caroline Batten explore the Danson Library's collection of rare Arthur Rackham fantasy illustrations. Emma Sillett, Caroline Batten 30 Jul 2021
7 C. S. Lewis and 'The Wind in the Willows' A discussion of the influence of 'The Wind in the Willows' on fantasy writers - notably C. S. Lewis Simon Horobin 29 Jul 2021
8 The Last of the Titans This talk explores the myth underlying the action in John Wyndham's `The Kraken Wakes'. Jane Bliss 27 Jul 2021
9 Creative Commons A Walk around C. S. Lewis's Oxford A biographical tour of C. S. Lewis's Oxford Simon Horobin 23 Jul 2021
10 Creative Commons William Morris and E. R. Eddison Collections at the Bodleian An interview with Rachael Marsay about the William Morris and E. R. Eddison collections at the Bodleian Library Rchael Marsay, Stuart Lee 23 Jul 2021
11 Creative Commons Elizabeth Knox A discussion of the writer Elizabeth Knox Alicia Smith 22 Jul 2021
12 The Saga of Eric the Unlucky The Saga of Eric the Unlucky examines Rider Haggard's use of medieval narrative techniques in his novel Eric Brighteyes. Jane Bliss 20 Jul 2021
13 Edward Lear and Fantasy Jasmine Jagger provides a short introduction to Edward Lear. Jasmine Jagger 18 Jul 2021
14 An Interview with Elizabeth Knox An Interview with Elizabeth Knox, author of 'The Absolute Book' Carolyne Larrington, Elizabeth Knox 13 Jul 2021
15 A Conversation With R. F. Kuang Carolyne Larrington and Caroline Batten interview Rebecca F. Kuang. R. F. Kuang, Carolyne Larrington, Caroline Batten 08 Jul 2021
16 Werewolves in Medieval Literature vs Modern TV A discussion of werewolves in medieval and modern representations. Minjie Su 06 Jul 2021
17 Desiring Dragons: Creative and Critical Responses to the Dragon in Beowulf Laura Varnam discusses dragons in fantasy literature. Laura Varnam 06 Jul 2021
18 Morte D'Arthur Murals in the Oxford Union A visual discussion of the Morte D'Arthur murals in the library of the Oxford Union. Tom Corrick, Caroline Batten 28 Jun 2021
19 Maria Dahvana Headley on Beowulf Author Maria Dahvana Headley reads from her 2018 novel The Mere Wife, is interviewed by Prof. Carolyne Larrington, and shares drafts from her 2020 translation of Beowulf. This lecture was recorded live at St John’s College, Oxford in November 2018. Carolyne Larrington, Maria Dahvana Headley, David Clark 25 Jun 2021
20 George MacDonald An introduction to the Victorian fantasist and fairy tale author George MacDonald, who convinced Lewis Carroll to publish Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, inspired C. S. Lewis' Christian writings, and may even have influenced Tolkien's Elves. Caroline Batten, Clare Mulley 25 Jun 2021
21 Old Norse in the New World: The Mythology and Politics of Immigration and Neil Gaiman's 'American Gods' A talk on Neil Gaiman's 'American Gods'. Heather O'Donoghue 23 Jun 2021
22 Discworld - and the Modern University A short talk introducing Terry Pratchett's Discworld novels and how they reflect the modern University. Andrew Shamel 22 Jun 2021
23 Susan Cooper A short talk on Susan Cooper. Tom Morcom 22 Jun 2021
24 Violet Needham Jane Bliss introduces listeners to the work of Violet Needham, a prolific but little-remembered children’s fantasy author, whose book 'The Woods of Windri' draws on the tropes of medieval romances in fascinating ways.ays. Jane Bliss 22 Jun 2021
25 Daoxuan and Chinese Fantasy Literature A short talk on Daoxuan and medieval Chinese fantasy. Nelson Landry 18 Jun 2021
26 Tolkien Archive and Exhibition at Bodleian (Part 2) An interview with Catherine McIlwaine on the Tolkien archive at Bodley and the exhibition of 2018 - Part 2 Catherine McIlwaine, Stuart Lee 18 Jun 2021
27 Tolkien Archive and Exhibition at Bodleian (Part 1) An interview with Catherine McIlwaine on the Tolkien archive at Bodley and the exhibition of 2018 - Part 1. Catherine McIlwaine, Stuart Lee 17 Jun 2021
28 What is the 'Silmarillion'? This lecture is an introduction to J.R.R. Tolkien's third major work, 'The Silmarillion' (1977), and considers its lengthy development in numerous prose and verse texts over fifty years. Grace Khuri 19 Apr 2021
29 Verse and Prose in Fantasy Literature An analysis of two forms that dominate fantasy literature. Katherine Olley 24 Nov 2020
30 Guy Gavriel Kay A short introduction to the writer Guy Gavriel Kay. Katherine Olley 24 Nov 2020
31 What Tolkien learnt from 'Beowulf': Representations of Evil Monsters and evil in Tolkien Rafael J. Pascual 16 Jul 2020
32 Sylvia Townsend Warner Carolyne Larrington introduces the writing of Sylvia Townsend Warner. Carolyne Larrington 26 May 2020
33 Ursula K. Le Guin A brief introduction to the writer Ursula K. Le Guin. Caroline Batten 13 May 2020
34 T. H. White A brief introduction to the writer T. H. White. Gabriel Schenk 12 May 2020
35 Diana Wynne Jones A brief introduction to the writer Diana Wynne Jones. Gabriel Schenk 12 May 2020
36 Why 'Game of Thrones' Matters 'Game of Thrones' and storytelling. Carolyne Larrington 12 May 2020
37 Re-Enchanted: The Rise of Children’s Fantasy Literature in the Twentieth Century A guest lecture by Dr Maria Cecire (Bard College) discussing children's fantasy literature. Maria Cecire 12 May 2020
38 Interview: Catherine Butler An Interview with Dr Catherine Butler, author of the book 'Four British Fantasists'. Catherine Butler, Will Brockbank 12 May 2020
39 Alan Garner A brief introduction to the British fantasy writer, Alan Garner. Felix Taylor 12 May 2020
40 H. P. Lovecraft A brief introduction to the writer, H. P. Lovecraft. Stuart Lee 12 May 2020
41 Approaching Fantasy Literature A short introduction to reading and studying fantasy literature. Stuart Lee 12 May 2020