So I'm doing one of my favorite things this year, which is mentoring an honors thesis on a topic I'd be focusing on if I were starting over as an undergrad doing an honors thesis right about now. No, it's not science fiction, comics, or video games, but fantasy. The student is interested in the ranges of the rules and functions of magic in fantasy, figuring that it may not be that dissimilar to the rules and functions of (new) technology in science fiction. The larger project is to make a case for the scholarly study of fantasy.
Not only does this give me a chance to introduce her to some of my favorite writers--Steven Brust, Neil Gaiman, Guy Gavriel Kay, Charles de Lint, and Sherri Tepper--as well as others I respect but don't like as much yet should be crucial to her project--Piers Anthony, Lloyd Alexander, Ursula Le Guin, L.E. Modesitt, Jr., and of course J.R.R. Tolkien. But, most important, I get to read some George R.R. Martin and Irene Radford--not to mention finally finish the last three books of the Harry Potter series! What's more, this is work, or should I say guilt-free pleasure?
So, keeping the former part of the last sentence in mind, is anyone out there aware of good scholarly studies of fantasy? Lucie Armitt's Fantasy Fiction: An Introduction is our entry point, but she's a bit too hung up on the fantastic and the possibilities of Lit-ah-rary fantasy, for my taste at least.