IN SEARCH OF ALAGAËSIA: EXPLORING THE CONJUNCTION OF READER, AUTHOR AND PLACE IN CHRISTOPHER PAOLINI’S THE INHERITANCE CYCLE

Open Access
Author:
D'Aveta, Laura A
Graduate Program:
Curriculum and Instruction
Degree:
Doctor of Philosophy
Document Type:
Dissertation
Date of Defense:
June 07, 2016
Committee Members:
  • Daniel Dean Hade, Dissertation Advisor
  • Daniel Dean Hade, Committee Chair
  • Angiline Louisa Whitney, Committee Member
  • Jamie Myers, Committee Member
  • Jonathan Paul Eburne, Outside Member
Keywords:
  • Fantasy map
  • Projective Worlds
  • Secondary Worlds
  • Fantasy Landscapes
Abstract:
Fantasy settings are often described as Secondary Worlds—an imaginary landscape in which the narrative and the reader are immersed—and the maps found in the fantasy genre are perhaps its most recognized convention. Current scholarship pertaining to these maps and their efficacy tends to focus on an Implied Reader, effectively ignoring the voice of the individual reader. Yet when a reader interacts with a map, the map does more than aid in creating verisimilitude for that fictional world. The reader is immersed in the setting of the novel, and his or her own sense of place—as a reader, as a fan of fantasy, as someone who may or may not have experienced a real-world location that resembles the map—is projected into that fictional world. What becomes clear is that this sense of place for the fantasy world is powerful; so much so that the reader may express that sense of place through the creation of creating artifacts that reflect the genesis of a Projected World that is a palimpsest of the places of their lives and their readings of the fantasy world. Using qualitative research methods, this study interviewed the author and fans of a fantasy series to understand the ways in which an individual’s sense of place influences the creation and retelling of a fantasy world, specifically in relation to interactions with the map of that fantasy world. By working with readers who identified themselves as fans of the fantasy series, this project aimed to describe and interpret the ways in which readers interact with a fantasy world and the artifacts created by those interactions. The findings have significant implications for the scholarship relating to the genre of fantasy, suggesting that an individual reader develops a sense of place for the fantasy world that should no longer be excluded from the scholarship surrounding fantasy maps and settings.