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Re-Enchanted: The Rise of Children’s Fantasy Literature in the Twentieth Century

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Maria Sachiko Cecire introduces the idea of an Oxford School of children’s fantasy literature, describing how J. R. R. Tolkien and C. S. Lewis pushed back against "modern" cultural changes in the first half of the 20th century through both the fiction they wrote while medievalists at the University of Oxford and as the architects of a new English curriculum that inspired future fantasy writers including Susan Cooper, Diana Wynne Jones, and Philip Pullman. Cecire addresses the aftereffects of this legacy, with an emphasis on the colonialist fantasies of white male heroism that circulated in the genre well after the end of empire and 21st-century responses by authors (such as Junot Díaz) whose fiction reclaims enchantment for audiences often excluded by mainstream fantasy. This lecture has been adapted from material published by the University of Minnesota Press in Cecire's book Re-Enchanted: The Rise of Children’s Fantasy Literature in the Twentieth Century (available at: https://www.upress.umn.edu/book-division/books/re-enchanted).