9th Conference European Sociological Association

RN07 Sociology of Culture

2009-09-03 09:00:00 2009-09-03 10:30:00 Thursday, 3 September 09:00 - 10:30 Arts in Public Sphere Building II, C4.08

Ideology and Subjectivity in Fantasy Literature

This paper is about power relations and subjectivity in fantasy literature. My approach is mainly concerned with the ideological impact of fantasy literature and it focuses on the effects and consequences of representation. In this sense it is not only about the production of meaning through and within representation, but mostly about the reproduction of power relations and the construction of identities and subjectivities.

A key feature of fantasy literature is the denial of dominant assumptions concerning the ?real? and the ?possible?. Thus a fantasy narrative is founded on an obdurate defiance of what is generally accepted to be plausible. It is ?the narrative result of transforming the condition contrary to fact, into a ?fact? itself?. In a way, such a violation of dominant assumptions upsets prevailing normative conventions. It would certainly be naive to assume that fantasy is inherently subversive (it might as well reproduce dominant or even reactionary ideologies). But in redefining the ?real? we reach the limits of categories we have learned to consider as fixed. Questioning given boundaries between the real and the fictional, human and non-human, male and female etc. such hybrid subjectivities can lead to the redefinition of the concept of subjectivity and the deconstruction of binary categories. This hybrid status may question the ontological purity according to which western societies define what is canonically human. Unsettling dominant categories, fantasy forms may redefine what it means to be a subject inside a binary ordering system.

My work draws upon Foucault?s archaeological method, on genealogy as well as on the key concepts of discourse theory by Laclau and Mouffe. I also draw on literary criticism and psychoanalysis.