UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

The veil between worlds : examining the present by exploring the fantastic in a secondary classroom Bergman Wood, Deborah


This action research study was conducted to examine the ways that speculative fiction texts, fantasy literature in particular, can establish and expand students’ critical literacy skills, and to argue that fantasy has a place in the classroom. The study focused on students’ connections between fantasy texts and the contemporary world and their ability to identify and critique the role that power plays in a fantasy novel. English Studies 12 students in a high school in British Columbia, Canada, chose a fantasy novel and then read, discussed, and responded to their chosen book in literature circles. The students applied critical literary theories to their texts as a tool for critical literacy as they engaged with and analyzed the power structures and relations within their texts. This study contends that fantasy literature is a ideal vehicle for teaching and practicing critical literacy—the act and art of reading the world (Freire, 1987). Fantasy and critical literacy make an excellent pair because each requires and values a multiplicity of perspectives and truths. By its very nature, fantasy provides a portal to different worlds and perspectives that, when approached critically, provides students with points of commonality between the fantastic world and their own. Fantasy’s liminality can support students’ own abilities to break down borders between themselves and the world. Indeed, by applying the combined tools of critical literary theory and critical literacy to fantasy literature, students were able to demonstrate more complex readings of their texts than they had been able to before.

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