[DWJ] and while I'm talking to you, perhaps I can be a little more on topic...

deborah.dwj at suberic.net deborah.dwj at suberic.net
Fri Nov 14 15:28:19 EST 2008

On Thu, 13 Nov 2008, Jackie E Stallcup wrote:
> I'm really glad to hear that teaching DL with the Hobbit went well!  What
> kind of course were/are you teaching it in--YA lit?  Fantasy lit?
> Children's Lit?

Fantasy and Science Fiction in a graduate program for Children's
and Young Adult Literature (MA, literature oriented as opposed to
education or librarianship, although there are some dual degree
people in the program).

> And did you introduce DL as a parody or satire of some elements of high
> fantasy?

Before the first week of class I'd had them read The Hobbit
without any preparation. All but two of the students had already
seen the Lord of the Rings movies, so for many of them the
relative fluffiness of evil in The Hobbit was something of a
surprise. Then they read Dark Lord at the same time as The Book
of Three and The Paper Bag Princess, and I asked them to read
those three books in publication order. I wanted to see if they
would get to seeing the historical progression in the development
of quest fantasy without me starting them on it: from classic
quest fantasy to feminist retelling to deconstruction of the
whole genre.

They actually did a very good job. It was tough, of course,
partly because there really aren't that many classic quest
fantasies in children's lit (it's more of an adult genre, if you
are going for the whole Belgariadesque thing being parodied in
Dark Lord), and partly because what there is is almost all
trilogy or larger. You can't really see the structure of the
quest by just reading The Book of Three. If it keeps the class
again next year, I might try to find an entire trilogy and have
them read it for character arc, although not sure which one I
would pick.

The students are fairly mixed group; many of them have already
had the theory class in the program, but many others haven't.
There's a lot more readers of fantasy than there used to be,
though, so I'm very pleased at how many of them already like the
genre or are open to it. There's a lot less hostility than I'd

But they were very happy to read Dark Lord as parody. They
certainly didn't all like the book, but they all saw what it was
doing and appreciated it. Sadly, I only had one Dungeons &
Dragons player in the group, so I couldn't get into too much of a
discussion about how it plays off of those tropes, as well.

(Thinking about the discussions we've had on this list, I also
asked them what they thought went on in that scene with the
soldiers and Shona. They were about as divided as the listers
are: some thought it was very clearly a sexual assault, some
thought it wasn't, some were disturbed at how underplayed it was,
some didn't mind at all.)

I'm a little teapot, short and stout.
Here is my handle and here is my ... my ...
Hey, I'm a sugar bowl!

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