Schools of Magic

Learning in Children’s and Young Adult Fantasy Fiction

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About the Book

What happens when the classroom and the fantastic meet? When lessons cover spells and potions alongside science and language arts? Through fantastic school stories—fiction involving the intersection of fantasy and school—the cycle of lessons, homework, exams, and graduation becomes new again, inviting us to consider what schools are teaching, who can be a student, and how knowledge is developed. Introducing a new framework for analyzing texts in the fantastic school story subgenre, this book examines texts including the Harry Potter series, Lev Grossman’s Magicians trilogy, Terry Pratchett’s Discworld, and Patrick Rothfuss’s Kingkiller Chronicle, along with works by Jane Yolen, Nnedi Okorafor, and Tracy Deonn. This holistic framework combines the methods of fantasy literature scholarship, the focus of school story analyses, and an awareness of hidden lessons taught alongside official subjects, allowing for nuanced examinations of topics such as standardized testing, apprenticeships, and access to education.

About the Author(s)

Megan H. Suttie completed her PhD at McMaster University in 2021, concluding over a decade of research in fantasy literature, education systems, and pedagogy. She co-owns The Bard and Bear Games Cafe in Hamilton, Ontario.

Bibliographic Details

Megan H. Suttie

Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 206
Bibliographic Info: notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2023
pISBN: 978-1-4766-8059-0
eISBN: 978-1-4766-4904-7
Imprint: McFarland
Series: Critical Explorations in Science Fiction and Fantasy

Table of Contents

List of Abbreviations viii
Preface 1
Introduction: A Framework for Analyzing Fantastic School Stories 7
1. Ordinary Wizarding Levels: ­High-Stakes Standardized Testing in J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter Series 33
2. Not a Bent Penny More: Capital in Patrick Rothfuss’s Kingkiller Chronicle 68
3. Imperial Institutes: Portal Fantasies and Education in Lev Grossman’s Magicians Trilogy 95
4. Nothing Exactly Like a Lesson: Legitimate Peripheral Participation in Terry Pratchett’s “Tiffany Aching” Quintet 125
Conclusion 160
Chapter Notes 167
Bibliography 183
Index 197

Book Reviews & Awards

“The exploration of the hidden curricula in the fantastic tales explored makes for an original combination of educational and literary analysis…particularly subtle and persuasive.”—Elisabeth Gruner, professor of English and president of the Children’s Literature Assocation (2021-2022)