Dissertation: Women and Power in Fantastic Societies

Women and Power in Fantastic Societies

Femininity and Power in J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings, George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire, and Anne Bishop’s The Black Jewels

POETICA – Schriften zur Literaturwissenschaft, volume 168

Hamburg , 340 pages

ISBN 978-3-339-12038-0 (print)
ISBN 978-3-339-12039-7 (eBook)

about this book deutsch english

Since the 1990s, modern Fantasy has established itself in popular culture as one of the commercially most successful genres. Authors like Terry Pratchett, Philip Pullman and J.K. Rowling were essential in anchoring Fantasy permanently into the mainstream. Peter Jackson’s film adaptation of J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings and, in the more recent past, the HBO series Game of Thrones have further solidified this development.

The enormous commercial success and the resulting spread of genre fiction further led to an increasing interest in Fantasy in the academic sector. David Beck’s book focuses on aspects of femininity and power and uses selected works of Second World Fantasy to offer valuable insights into the interconnectivity between the two phenomena.

Gender and power are first discussed in theoretical considerations. The social production of gender by means of perception and performance, as well as the conceptualization of gendered normality are at the centre of the socio-psychological observations of femininity. With regards to the phenomenon of power, the focal point lies on relational aspects of power, power resources and the interaction between power and gender.

Afterwards, the study traces the theoretical insights throughout three examples of Second World Fantasy: J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings, George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire, as well as Anne Bishop’s The Black Jewels. The three titles were chosen due to their differences in the social setup of femininity, as well as their differing subgenres within the Fantasy genre. The conceptualization and production of femininity in societies which are explicitly not the known, ’real’ world are at the forefront of this process. The study furthermore provides insight into the influence of gender on the power structures surrounding female characters in those societies.

The book offers a deliberately removed view on contemporary, highly relevant issues of the primary world through the kaleidoscope of fantastic worlds. In doing so, it reinforces the transcending potential and the ever increasing social and academic relevance of the Fantasy genre.

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