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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Using Fantasy to Save Reality, or the Importance of the Quest to Understanding Gendered and Religious Identity Construction
by Radek, Kimberly M., Ph.D., Union Institute and University, 2016, 291; 10294530
Abstract (Summary)

This project is an investigation into the extent to which popular fantasy fictions entice their audiences to imaginatively reconsider their ethical commitments, relationships, and world views. Building upon the work of Richard Rorty and Martha C. Nussbaum's ethical criticism, I argue that the popular fantasy fictions by C. L. Wilson, George R. R. Martin, and Jim Butcher can assist audiences to understand the constructed nature of individual identity and the social construction of reality, allowing them to participate in discursive communities that empower them to see beyond stereotypes and to consider other people, no matter their differences, as humans equally capable of and entitled to their own decision-making. C. L. Wilson's Tairen Soul series provides a lesson on the importance of inclusion and communication, as it demonstrates that the differences people perceive in cultural groups are constructed and not actual. George R. R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire demonstrates that buying into others' notions of identity, particularly in terms of gender, can be debilitating and restricting, and Jim Butcher's The Dresden Files shows that people with differing religious identities and beliefs can cooperate to solve problems even when they cannot agree upon their constructions of reality. Fantasy as a genre is valuable for cultural criticism, as it can function allegorically to allow audiences to experience emotions genuinely in an arena outside of their assumptions, engaging in experience-taking and learning how constructed realities are dependent upon their own interpretative, but not infallible, frameworks. Fantasy, in other words, can be used to engage people in discussions about values independent of real life that can then be applied to real life, allowing more people into the discussion about how to increase human happiness, a project that Rorty sees as the goal of human progress.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Piep, Karsten H.
School: Union Institute and University
School Location: United States -- Ohio
Source: DAI-A 78/04(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Modern literature, Philosophy of religion, Gender studies
Keywords: A Song of Ice and Fire, C. L. Wilson, George R. R. Martin, Jim Butcher, Popular Fantasy Fiction, The Dresden Files
Publication Number: 10294530
ISBN: 978-1-369-36798-0
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