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Magical Realism

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Magical realism is one of the most unique literary movements of the last century. Like fairy tales, magical realist novels and short stories blur the line between fantasy and reality.

Often playful and exuberant, magical realism also plays a huge role in drawing attention to the economic and political oppression of the Global South.

On this course, you will study magical realism as a literary genre.

You will analyse a selection of magic realist texts from across the globe, including writers such as Latin America's best-known author and Nobel Laureate, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, and Japan’s multi-award-winning Haruki Murakami.

Learning and teaching

The module will be delivered through nine 2-hour sessions via Zoom, made up of lectures, seminar discussions, small group work and debates. Class sessions will be supplemented by resources available to students via Learning Central.

Topics will be centred around literary texts and may include:

  • realistic settings and familiar worlds
  • magical elements – from talking objects to dead characters and telepathy
  • limited information – unexplained magic and normalisation
  • the power and politics of critique – from economic oppression to American Imperialism
  • unique plot structures and atypical story arcs

Coursework and assessment

To award credits we need to have evidence of the knowledge and skills you have gained or improved.

Some of this has to be in a form that can be shown to external examiners so that we can be absolutely sure that standards are met across all courses and subjects.

The most important element of assessment is that it should enhance your learning.

Our methods are designed to increase your confidence and we try very hard to devise ways of assessing you that are enjoyable and suitable for adults with busy lives.

You will complete a portfolio of writing, which may include reviews, analysis and short essays. The portfolio will be around 1800 words in length.

Reading suggestions

Essential reading

  • Ahmed Saadawi, Frankenstein in Bagdad (2014) (trans Jonathan Wright)
  • Franz Kafka, The Metamorphosis (1915)
  • F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (1922)
  • Neil Gaiman, The Ocean at the End of the Lane (2013).
  • Gabriel García Márquez, A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings (1968)
  • Haruki Murakami, The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle (1994)
  • Salman Rushdie, Midnight’s Children (1981)

Selected secondary reading

  • Maggie Bowers Magic(al) Realism (2004)
  • Amaryll Beatrice Chanady Magical Realism and the Fantastic: Resolved Versus Unresolved Antinomy (1985)
  • Wendy B. Faris Ordinary Enchantments (2004)
  • Wendy B. Faris & Lois Parkinson Zamora (eds) Magical Realism: Theory, History, Community (1995)
  • Wen-chin Ouyang & Stephen M. Hart A Companion to Magical Realism (2005)
  • Christopher Warnes Magical Realism and the Postcolonial Novel: Between Faith and Irreverence (2009)

Library and computing facilities

As a student on this course you are entitled to join and use the University’s library and computing facilities. Find out more about using these facilities.


Our aim is access for all. We aim to provide a confidential advice and support service for any student with a long term medical condition, disability or specific learning difficulty. We are able to offer one-to-one advice about disability, pre-enrolment visits, liaison with tutors and co-ordinating lecturers, material in alternative formats, arrangements for accessible courses, assessment arrangements, loan equipment and dyslexia screening.