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Anna Vaninskaya

Apr 7, 2022

Fantasy Then, Now, and Forever with Anna Vaninskaya

A Conversation with Anna Vaninskaya

New Books Network 2022

Elizabeth and John talk about fantasy's power of world-making with Edinburgh professor Anna Vaninskaya, author of William Morris and the Idea of Community: Romance, History and Propaganda, 1880-1914 (2010) and Fantasies of Time and Death: Dunsany, Eddison, Tolkien (2020). Anna uncovers the melancholy sense of displacement and loss running through Tolkien, and links his notion of "subcreation" to an often concealed theological vision. Not allegory but "application" is praised as a way of reading fantasy.

John asks about hopeful visions of the radical politics of fantasy (Le Guin, but also Graeber and Wengrow's recent work); Elizabeth stresses that fantasy's appeal is at once childish and childlike. E. Nesbit surfaces, as she tends to in RtB conversations. The question of film TV and other visual modes comes up: is textual fantasy on the way out?

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Elizabeth Ferry is Professor of Anthropology at Brandeis University. Email: ferry@brandeis.edu. John Plotz is Barbara Mandel Professor of the Humanities at Brandeis University and co-founder of the Brandeis Educational Justice Initiative. Email: plotz@brandeis.edu.

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Elizabeth Ferry and John Plotz

Elizabeth Ferry is Professor of Anthropology at Brandeis University. Email: ferry@brandeis.edu. John Plotz is Barbara Mandel Professor of the Humanities at Brandeis University and co-founder of the Brandeis Educational Justice Initiative. Email: plotz@brandeis.edu.

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