Creation Stories: Early Fantasy and the Making of Worlds, a Crag Talk by Anna Vaninskaya
Wednesday 20 April 2016 from 5.30 to 6.30
Project Room 50 George Square
‘All works of fiction ‘create reality’, but none do so in a more literal sense than works of imaginary-world fantasy. Many of the latter employ the imaginary world simply as a setting for a novelistic plot; but some are actually about the creation of worlds, i.e. they are fully or in part ‘cosmogonic’ fictions – alternate, usually theistic, accounts of the origins of reality. The gods are, of course, invented; the worlds they create may or may not be. In my talk I will touch upon three British practitioners of cosmogonic fantasy from the first half of the twentieth century: Lord Dunsany, E. R. Eddison and J. R. R. Tolkien, and offer some reflections on the functions and significance of this kind of ‘creative’ writing.’
Dr Anna Vaninskaya was born in Russia and grew up in the United States, where she completed a BA and MA in English Literature at the University of Denver. She came to the UK as a Marshall Scholar in 2003, and after completing a D.Phil. in English Literature at the University of Oxford, she held a Postdoctoral Research Fellowship with the Cambridge Victorian Studies Group and a Junior Research Fellowship in English at King’s College, Cambridge. She was appointed Lecturer at the University of Edinburgh in 2010. Dr Vaninskaya is the author of ‘William Morris and the Idea of Community: Romance, History and Propaganda, 1880-1914’ (Edinburgh UP, 2010), as well as over twenty articles and book chapters on topics ranging from Chesterton, Orwell, Tolkien, Chukovsky and Stoppard to nineteenth-century socialism, education, popular reading, historical cultures and immigration.