Politics in Fantasy Media

Essays on Ideology and Gender in Fiction, Film, Television and Games


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About the Book

Fantasy is often condemned as escapist, unsophisticated and superficial. This collection of new essays puts such easy dismissals to the test by examining the ways in which Fantasy narratives present diverse, politically relevant discourses—gender, race, religion or consumerism—and thereby serve as indicators of their real-world contexts. Through their depiction of other worlds allegedly disconnected from our own, these texts are able to actualize political attitudes. Instead of categorizing Fantasy either as conservative or progressive, the essays suggest that its generic peculiarity allows the emergence of productive forms of oscillation between these extremes. Covered are J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings, George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire sequence, J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter novels, the vampire TV series True Blood, and the dystopian computer game Fallout 3.

About the Author(s)

Gerold Sedlmayr is professor of British cultural studies at TU Dortmund University, Germany. He lives in Kamen.

Nicole Waller is professor of American studies at Potsdam University, Germany. She lives in Berlin.

Bibliographic Details

Edited by Gerold Sedlmayr and Nicole Waller

Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 224
Bibliographic Info: notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2014
pISBN: 978-0-7864-9510-8
eISBN: 978-1-4766-1755-8
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Introduction: The Politics of Fantasy • Gerold Sedlmayr and Nicole Waller 1

I. Identity
“It’s all a big show”: Constructing Identity in Suzanne Collins’s The Hunger Games Trilogy • Stefanie Fricke 17
Gender and Racial Roles in Computer ­Role-Playing Games • Andreas Blüml 31

II. The Politics of Fantasy
Conservative and Countercultural Elements in Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas • Beatrix Hesse 43
Subversive or Conservative? Vampires and Ideology in the Twilight Series and True Blood • Christian Knirsch 57
From ­Hyper-Male Aardvarks to the Female Void: Gender Politics in Cerebus • Sebastian Domsch 72
Fantasy as Politics: George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire • Rainer Emig 85
The Politics of ­Post-Apocalypse: Interactivity, Narrative Framing and Ethics in Fallout 3 • Matthias Kemmer 97
The Atheist Believer: Harry Potter and the Politics of Religion • Bärbel Höttges 118
Political Rhetoric as a Structural and Ideological Instrument in Star Wars and Harry Potter • Christina Flotmann 137
Haven’t I Been Here Before? China Miéville’s Uncanny Cities • Dirk Vanderbeke 150

III. The Fantasy of Politics
Fantastic Body Politics in Joe Abercrombie’s The First Law Trilogy • Gerold Sedlmayr 165
The Fantasy of Politics: The Past and the Future of ­Object-Related Fantasy • Sladja Blažan 179
Tolkien’s Baits: Agonism, Essentialism and the Visible in The Lord of the Rings • Dirk Wiemann 191

About the Contributors 205
Index 209

Book Reviews & Awards

“The 13 essays in this volume cover the whole range of present-day forms of fantasy…a valuable contribution to the discussion of contemporary fantasy by demonstrating in great detail that there is much more to this often reviled form of dealing with the complexities of our world than meets the eye”—Inklings Jahrbuch.