So the best news I heard this past week was the announcement of the establishment of The Centre for Fantasy and the Fantastic, a center for fantasy studies at the University of Glasgow, which offers a MLitt in fantasy.
Here's a great short piece by Dimitra Fimi giving an overview of the Centre's goals and planned activities:
They launched the new programme with a 'webinare' event: a lecture by Ellen Kushner and panel discussion by Terry Windling, Brian Attebery, and Rbt Maslen:
A general overview of the Centre's planned activities --"the world's first research centre focusing purely on the fantasy genre . . . everything from the works of J. R. R. Tolkien to Dungeons & Dragons and Game of Thrones"--can be found here:
I was particularly interested in the requirements for the degree, as detailed under "Programme Structure" in the following link:
Looking at this, I'm immediately curious over the break-point between their two survey courses, Fantasy from 1780 to 1950 (Part I) and Fantasy from 1950 to Present (Part II). If I were to get the chance to take such a course the third topic I'd probably have gone for wd be either "Children's Fantasy Literature" (the distinction between fantasy for younger readers and for adults being a permeable one) and "Early Modern Mythmaking".
It's also exciting to know that dissertations are currently in the works on Terry Pratchett (the first person knighted for writing fantasy), stage-plays based on fantasy novels (which I assume will cover things like the popular adaptation of Pullman's HIS DARK MATERIALS and perhaps the LotR musical) and Tolkien as seen by younger readers.
I have to confess found myself wistful, thinking about what might have been had there been an option like this one back in 1981 when I was wrapping up at Fayetteville and looking around for someplace where I cd work on a doctorate while continuing my Tolkien studies. As it turned out, it was like pursuing two courses of research at the same time -- which is probably one reason it took me so long.
For all of those of us who were discouraged (to put it mildly) from researching Tolkien, and for those like Verlyn Flieger and Douglass Parker who found a way to teach such courses despite lack of departmental support (and sometimes downright disapproval), this is a great day.
--current reading: THE LAST TSAR, the new Woodward book, a light novel