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  • 2017Palmer-Patelphd

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Resonance of the heroic epic: investigating the rhythm and shape of post-1990 American genre fantasy

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

Publication date2017
Number of pages294
Awarding Institution
Award date24/04/2017
  • Lancaster University
<mark>Original language</mark>English


While the long history of the fantastic is often critically examined, contemporary epic fantasy requires attention. This thesis will address a gap in genre scholarship and will focus on authors who have published from 1990 onwards. While this thesis will focus on close readings of a select few authors in order to delve into the complexity of these texts in greater detail, a wide sample of exemplars will be referred to, establishing the significance of this study on contemporary genre fantasy as a whole.
This thesis introduces new ways of perceiving current productions of fantasy genre. It explores how the subgenre of heroic epic fantasy fiction exhibits a conscious awareness of its own form. By examining repetitive patterns of genre fantasy, the thesis argues that, rather than being simplistic, reductive, and formulaic, these structures create a layer of complexity and depth with each iteration. In doing so, heroic epic fantasy uses a resonance similar to that of epic mythology in order to create a new world with its own rational laws, one which follows the rationale of our own world. Thus, the thesis investigates structural and narrative patterns of heroic epic fantasy using models from science and philosophy. In this way, although the genre is generally viewed as irrational, the structure of the narrative reveals logical devices derived from real-world principles. Fantasy fiction is not an illogical form. It is, in fact, governed by a sense of rules and structure, one that reflects our current understanding of space-time and cosmology. More importantly, these real-world models are themselves an embedded facet of the narrative and essential to the way both story and character develops. Accordingly, the thesis depicts how these models are an integral part of the structure of heroic epic fantasy itself.