Saturday, 11 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.
Chair: Roger C. Schlobin, Purdue University, North
Walter Gershuny, Northeastern University. "Rococo
Utopias: Evocations of Gnide in Eighteenth Century France."
The literary depictions of Gnide in eighteenth-
century France offered a vision of Utopia as
conceived in rococo terms. As evoked by Montesquieu, Leonard, and Colardeau, this seductive
world, consecrated to the cult of Venus and the
pleasures of love, served as a wishfulfillment
fantasy of a society drawn to the dual ideals of
escapism and sensual delectation. So too, these
evocations reflected the rococo's dual attitude
towards love, in which the idealized flourished
alongside the erotic.
Brian Attebery, Idaho State University. "Fantasy as an
Many fantasies portray societies seemingly engineered to promote human happiness. However, in
most of these stories, the apparent Utopias turn
out to be oppressive or to deaden inquiry and
initiative in their citizens. When a truly "good
place" appears in fantasy, it is generally administered by beings wiser than mere man (Oz is run by
a sorceress and a fairy, Malacandra by an angel)
or it is portrayed as a limited, fragile thing.
Sometimes it is simply left offstage so that we
need not be troubled by possible flaws. Fantasy
may be inherently inhospitable to Utopia, being
concerned primarily with the psychic integration
or spiritual growth of an individual rather than
with the reformation of society.
HUMOR IN FANTASY
Chair: Walter Herrscher, University of Wisconsin, Green
Richard Allan Schwartz, Florida International University. "Underlying Incongruity: An Analysis of
Tragic, Comic, and Fantastic Disparities."
Existing studies identify incongruity as a basis
for humor. John Allen Paulos refines that point
further, indicating that "A perceived incongruity
with a point and an appropriate emotional climate...seems to be necessary and sufficient for
humor." Using Paulos' definition as a starting
point, I argue that the emotional climate determines the incongruity's fundamental nature (i.e.,
tragic, comic, fantastic, or some other) as well
as its meaning. The emotional climate results
largely from the dynamic relationship between our
desires for and our expectations about a character's fate. The emotional climate also has
implications for the reader's perception of the
universe as ordered or disordered and for his or
her general sense of being in control.
Gordon Slethaug, University of Waterloo, Ontario.
"Parody in Thurber's The White Deer: Tarnish on
the American Dream."
In an essay on "Fairy-Stories" published in 1949,
J.R.R. Tolkien accepts the possibility that
fantasy may contain satire, but cautions that "if
there is any satire present in the tale, one thing
must not be made fun of, the magic itself." Since
James Thurber wrote The White Deer in 1945, he
cannot have read Tolkien's statement and would
probably not have agreed anyway since the very
essence of the book is a burlesquing of American
Culture in the 40's and a parodying of the form of
fantasy, including magic. As an implicit overturning of Tolkien's assumptions about the nature
of fantasy, this book playfully demolishes the
things Americans live by — their customs and
habits, their institutions, and their romantic
conceptions of life.
Jean Tobin, University of Wisconsin Center, Sheboygan.
"A Myth, A Memory, A Will-O-The-Wish: Peter
Beagle's Funny Fantasy."
Humor, seldom considered a prime characteristic
of fantasy, pervades Peter Beagle's The Last
Unicorn, both the book published in 1968 and the
animated film released late in 1982. This paper
investigates Beagle's use of humor is this work
and focuses on a kind of humor — one based on incongruity of consciousness, such as that held by
timeless creatures who know their own literary
history up to the present — which may be unique
Peter Jordan, Tennessee State University. "Wish
Fulfillment: The Innocent Humor of Thorne Smith."
This paper will explore the novels of Thorne Smith
in light of the comedy generated by the central
fantasy of stepping beyond the bounds and crashing
against the prison of social convention.
FLIGHTS OF FANTASY: EMILY DI
Chair: Michael H. Palmer, Louisburg College.
Nicholas Roddick, University of Regina. "'The Tint I
cannot take— is best—': Extraspectral Color in
Emily Dickinson's Poetry."
The fantastic writer's technique of estrangement
by breaking the bounds of orthodox (usually Newtonian) physics was appropriated extremely effectively by Emily Dickinson in a group of poems that
show both the limitations of ordinary perception
and the potentialities afforded by extraspectral
(i.e. outside the Newtonian visible spectrum)
vision. This she did by positing the existence of
new colors whose manifestations, ubiquitous and
perceptible by all, give intimations of a transcendent realm where immortality is possible.
Michael H. Palmer, Louisburg College. "'Bulletins from
Immortality': Fantastical Dimensions in the
Poetry of Emily Dickinson."
The very ethereal nature of Emily Dickinson's
subject — that realm beyond the grave, beyond the