FL 263A The Fantastic

unit one
unit two
unit three
Le Monde à l'Envers
La Danse Macabre
Le Grotesque


the web site

The site is intended to provided a visual accompaniment to the course. For a small group of artists long associated with the genre, a series of images opens the door to some of the constant themes, patterns and problems of the fantastic. Authors appear in brief excerpts that capture a particular mood or moment of the text involved. Browsers are encouraged to explore the universe of all of these artists in greater detail by consulting serious bibliographies and critical studies in the library. 


Because of its wonderfully varied modes of representation, and its subtle emphasis on the inexplicable, the Fantastic lends itself very easily to interdisciplinary approaches. Our principal avenues of investigation will involve literature, art and psychology: each of these fields will provide readings and/or viewings for discussion and analysis. Optimally, art and literature will illuminate one another. The analytical grids of psychoanalytic and literary theories wil provide the basic critical concepts (repression, the uncanny, indeterminacy, the postmodern, etc.) To allow, in addition, for a sense of the historical contours of the Fantastic, the course will be divided into three units lasting from three to five weeks each, and grouping texts and art works in discrete yet elastic periods and categories. 

Unit One, weeks 1-4, The Intuitives 

Unit Two, weeks 5-9: Master Technicians, or, from Intuition to Self-Awareness

Unit Three, weeks 10-14: From the Self Conscious to the Post-Modern

Fantastic Themes

Phobia by John Vassos

Le Monde à l'Envers

La Danse Macabre

Le Grotesque


Students will be required to write three short papers, at least one of which will be an analytical application of a critical concept to a work; another of which might involve a comparative assessment of different works, and a third which will require presentation of a work not studied in class and justification for its categorization as Fantastic. An electronic bulletin board will be used to catalogue reactions to the material, and to stimulate outside of class discussion. There will be a mid-term and a final exam, and perhaps some coordinated, collective writing exercises involving the creation of a fantastic short story (the group ghost story). Depending on the time available, I hope to screen several films that may generate paper topics for interested students. Most of the works to be studied are relatively short, so that reading assignments will rarely involve more than thirty pages per class. I will thus count on your preparedness, and your readiness to take part in discussions. After three unexcused absences, the overall course grade will drop for each new absence. 

John Anzalone, PMH 408, x 5202 

web site design by Jennifer Conklin '98 Skidmore College Foreign Language Department revised June 2000