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Fantasy. Fantasy: Two meanings. Fantasy can be seen as a psychological phenomenon Fantasy can be seen as a form of literature. Fantasy literature.

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  1. Fantasy

  2. Fantasy: Two meanings • Fantasy can be seen as a psychological phenomenon • Fantasy can be seen as a form of literature

  3. Fantasy literature • Fantasy literature (and film, TV, etc.) presents the audience with a world, characters, events or circumstances that are either ‘impossible’ or so unlikely that any reasonable person would not believe that they either had previously happened or are likely to happen in the ‘historical world’

  4. Influences on fantasy • Fairy stories are sources of much of the content found in contemporary fantasy • Elves, dwarves, dragons, witches, etc. • Classic myths have often inspired the plotlines as well as contributing characters to the fantasy genre • Heros, quests, fairy stories, Greek myths, conflicts between good and evil

  5. Related genres or subgenres • Dark fantasy--------Horror • Science fantasy--------Science fiction • Superhero fantasy

  6. Why do we like them? • One argument is that we enjoy pure escapism • Simply being immersed in a fantasy land with mystical or nonhuman characters is said to be enjoyable in and of itself • Questionable • Another argument is that by taking control over the environment the author can simplify the conflicts, provide clear characterization that is not muddied by experience, etc.

  7. What attracts us to fantasy? • Pure escapism • Simplification, clarity of exposition • Basic, primal themes and characters • Invokes a sense of wonder

  8. A third explanation is that these timeless stories are that way because they touch something basic and primal in the human psyche • Freud’s views on the conflicts involved in maturation, the id, the ego, the superego • Jung’s archetypes as collective unconscious

  9. A fourth explanation is that they invoke in us a sense of wonder • The sense that has declined in the face of secularization, science • The same need for a sense of wonder that sparked the religious revival of the 1970s and 1980s

  10. Common features • Magic/mysticism • Monsters • Non-human characters • Often taken from Nordic mythology • Classic sexist stereotyping • Recent moves toward less stereotyped portrayals • Human heroes • Knights, kings, common men pressed into service

  11. Common features • Stereotypic character roles • Hero, helper, princess, witch, evil knight, etc. • Quests • The Holy Grail, the Golden Fleece, Destruction of the Ring, Recovery of the Lost Ark, The getting of wisdom, Destruction of the Minotaur • Cataclysmic confrontation between good and evil • Battle for Middle Earth, War for Narnia, etc.

  12. Development of fantasy • The folk (fairy) stories of Germany, etc. were handed down through the ages • The Brothers Grimm • Hans Christian Anderson • Children’s fantasy stories • Developed and became popular during the 1800s • A few fantasy stories aimed at adults, but the genre considered to be lower quality than traditional drama writing • Alice in Wonderland

  13. Science fiction became a significant subgenre in late 1800s with H.G. Wells and Jules Verne • At the beginning of the 20th Century, “lost world” fantasies were developed and became popular, making adult fantasy a recognized genre • Horror films became popular in the 1930s and beyond • The ‘high fantasy’ works of C.S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien raised fantasy to a high literary standard and increased its popularity

  14. 1950s science fiction films and TV shows enhanced the popularity of fantasy with wide audiences • Continuing but rather cult-status interest in fantasy until Star Trek franchise and then Star Wars film series • Expanded interest in fantasy, especially with J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series

  15. Fantasy video games among the most popular, especially in the role-playing genre • Dungeons and Dragons • Final Fantasy

  16. Adaptive functions of fantasy and imagination • May enhance self-knowledge and self-understanding by helping individuals to clarify their thoughts and to stay in touch with their needs and feelings • Promote decision making by allowing one to spell out anticipated consequences of one’s choices • Regulate moods and emotions, and relieve tension—for example, by allowing individuals to relive the positive or negative emotions associated with previous experiences

  17. Two types of thinking • Paradigmatic and narrative thinking are complementary • Paradigmatic thinking ‘involves logical and verbal thinking and its object is to test for empirical truth’ • Good argument, tight analysis, falsifiable empirical discovery • Narrative thinking “entails storylike, imagistic thinking, and its object is not truth but ‘verisimilitude’ or ‘lifelikeness’”

  18. “Narrative thinking seeks ‘good stories, gripping drama, and believable (though not necessarily true) historical accounts” • “Fantasy and imagination play an essential role in narrative thinking”

  19. Escapism • Overproduction of unpleasant fantasies • Boredom-avoidance

  20. Thematic Correspondence Hypothesis • People choose content based on their fantasies • Those with violent fantasies tend to watch violent content • However, reverse causation is indicated • May be reciprocal

  21. Thematic Compensation Hypothesis • “people select entertainment themes that reflect those types of fantasies that they cannot produce themselves” • Erotica • Freudian argument that fantasies reflect unsatisfied wishes • Evidence to date does not support—people watch content they tend to fantasize about

  22. Role of fantasy and imagination during media exposure • Very little research carried out on this • Must draw from related disciplines • Emotional involvement in fantasy worlds runs counter to prior emotion theory • Emotions were thought to be tied to a feeling that what one was witnessing was real—the more real, the more powerful the emotional response

  23. Aesthetic emotion • “According to Frijda (1989), viewers experience aesthetic emotions because they regard the events in films as true events in an imaginary world. Viewers do not perceive the occurrence of these events as unreal; they just discount any proof in the film that point to it being unreal.”

  24. Harris • Two ways of watching a movie (TV show, etc.) • In ‘default mode’, the viewers “do not employ their knowledge of the reality status of the movie to suppress their emotions” • They are aware the movie is unreal, they just don’t take it into account • In the second way in which viewers consume fictional entertainment, they do use their knowledge of the reality status of the movie. • They do so either because the movie challenges their suspension of disbelief or because of the shocking character of what they see—they protect themselves by remembering the fictional nature of the events, etc.

  25. “When viewers consume fiction in the default mode, that is, escorted by emotions, they rely on their experiential system of information processing. The experiential system involves rapid, automatic processing, is pleasure-oriented, emotionally driven, and characterized by a primacy of affective reactions.”

  26. Immersion • Transportation • Diegetic effect • Presence • The viewer/consumer’s mental system becomes focused on the events occurring in an imaginary world while the real-world events are suppressed, the viewer witnesses the imaginary events and these drive the viewer’s emotional system, and the force of the effect is derived from our capacity for imagination

  27. Responses to drama (Polichak and Gerrig) • Inferences • ‘As if’ responses • Problem-solving responses • Replotting responses • Evaluatory responses

  28. Social Responses • Empathy • Parasocial interaction

  29. Role of fantasy and imagination after exposure • Stimulation • It appears that media content can stimulate certain forms of fantasy • The evidence does not seem to demonstrate that imagination is enhanced by audiovisual stimulation • Scholars appear to assume that books, etc. stimulate imagination

  30. Reduction hypotheses • Visualization hypothesis • By providing ready-made video and audio, the stimulation of imagination (among kids) is reduced • The evidence is mixed • Rapid-pacing hypothesis • Little time to evaluate, think over content • Evidence is inconclusive

  31. Passivity hypothesis • Television generates a passive, “let you entertain me” attitude that suppresses imagination • Again, evidence lacking and other ‘let-you-entertain-me’ situations are not included (plays, listening to books being read, etc.) • Arousal hypothesis • Arousal leads to hyperactivity, impulsive behavior • Some evidence in the case of violent programming, but limited understanding of the mechanism

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