Use this URL to cite or link to this record in EThOS: https://ethos.bl.uk/OrderDetails.do?uin=uk.bl.ethos.774592
Title: Crafting, conjuring, and the aesthetic of making : towards a materialistic understanding of fantasy
Author: Pandey, Siddharth
ISNI:       0000 0004 7961 7950
Awarding Body: University of Cambridge
Current Institution: University of Cambridge
Date of Award: 2019
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Abstract:
This dissertation provides a fresh understanding of the fantasy genre by studying its propensity for the concept of 'making'. 'Making' here broadly encompasses the various practices and performances that generate the sense of the magical. These practices and performances can be collectively viewed as 'tasks', whose taskness taps into a heightened regard for materiality in embodied, dynamic terms. A study of the making of magic therefore becomes a study of such taskness, whose sources are both human and non-human. Thus, after providing a long introduction to the concept of making and explicitly linking it to taskness, the thesis divides into two main chapters to study human and non-human taskness by concentrating on five principal British fantasy series: Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy, Terry Pratchett's Tiffany Aching quintet, William Horwood's Hyddenworld quartet, Charlie Fletcher's Stoneheart trilogy, and J. K. Rowling's Harry Potter heptalogy. Leaning on a widely interdisciplinary framework and in particular the theories of making and craftsmanship given by the contemporary Anglophone philosophers Tim Ingold and Richard Sennett, I illustrate the various ways in which fantasy's sense of the magical springs from its rootedness in the tasks that undergird making. In Chapter 1, I assess human tasks by focusing on the hand and handwork, that contribute to the distinct moods of the fantasy narrative: positive, negative, ambiguous, and the various shades in-between. In Chapter 2, non-human tasks are assessed by plumbing the materialistic dimensions of magical artefacts such as jewels and tools, paintings, sculptures, and lines. I conclude that fantasy's 'aesthetic of making' relies on two core elements: skill and growth. A materialistic understanding of fantasy based on a study of making thus creates a vocabulary that can account for both of these. If, as Brian Attebery observes, wonder is the 'key' to fantasy's impact, then this wonder itself gets constituted by skill and growth which intensify the aliveness of alternative universes in a deeply interiorized manner. Ultimately then, this thesis is an exercise in understanding the 'form' of fantasy from within.
Supervisor: Nikolajeva, Maria Sponsor: Cambridge International Scholarship
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID: uk.bl.ethos.774592  DOI:
Keywords: taskscapes ; tasks ; magic ; doing ; making ; fantasy ; aesthetic ; hand ; artefacts ; wonder ; taskness ; British
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