Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository


Master of Arts




Dr. M. J. Toswell


Fantasy literature in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries uses the construction of new races as a mirror through which to see the human race more clearly. Categorizations of fantasy have tended to avoid discussions of race, in part because it is an uncomfortable gray area since fantasy literature does not yet have a clear taxonomy. Nevertheless, race is often an unavoidable component of fantasy literature. This thesis considers J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings as a taproot text for fantasy literature before moving on to Neil Gaiman’s American Gods and China Miéville’s Perdido Street Station, both newer fantasy novels which include interesting constructions of race and raise issues of miscegenation and hybridity. This thesis moves towards an understanding of what purpose creating and utilizing races serves, and how fantasy literature allows for the identification and potential resolution of a number of human anxieties regarding race.