In this course, students will develop critical reading and analytical writing skills through the exploration of the genre of contemporary fantasy. We will examine both written texts (short stories by contemporary fantasy authors as well as some genre criticism) and visual texts (films and television shows) in order to consider how current social issues--such as gender, race, class, and sexuality--are reflected and explored in this genre. Throughout the semester, we will work to define fantasy and ponder its potential to affect social change; does fantasy generally uphold the current social order and perpetuate stereotypes and cultural myths, or does it contain the possibility of social critique and change? Students will investigate this problmem through analytical, argumentative academic essays that examine fantasy texts through the lens of social issues.