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Close Reading: Fantastical Literature

Close Reading: Fantastical Literature
This class is currently archived, but if you're interested in it being taught again, you can express your interest here!
08/21/2023 - 12/15/2023
Fall Semester
0.5 credits in Humanities & Electives
Grades 9-12

Taught by:

About the course

This course aims to connect a student’s love of reading with the skills required to responsibly and rigorously analyze texts. The stories chosen for this course each contain an element of the fantastical that excites the student’s sense of wonder and draws their interest. But the stories will be read and discussed with the kind of attention to detail given to works like The Odyssey or Shakespeare. In this way, this course will model and train the habits and practices of close reading while linking that task directly to the joy of reading fun stories that get the imagination going. This course aims to be your student’s favorite literature course while being no less rigorous than their other literature courses.

The writing assigned will be graduated according to student age. So while we will all be discussing together, each student's individual engagement with the texts will be scored according to appropriate rubrics.

Note: The .5 credit for this course is optional.

Course Objectives:

  1. To consider the interplay of various aspects of character, plot, and setting in crafting stories that grab us immersively;
  2. To be able to identify and discuss the larger issues pertaining to human wisdom that these stories raise and speak to;
  3. To develop the ability to ground textual arguments in concrete textual passages;
  4. To construct logical, well-organized textual arguments that consider counter-arguments and conflicting textual evidence.


  • Fairy poems
  • Through the Looking Glass, Lewis Carroll
  • The Once and Future King Book 1: The Sword in the Stone, T.H. White
  • The Golden Key, George MacDonald
  • Oscar Wilde fairy tales
  • “Leaf by NIggle,” J.R.R. Tolkien
  • So You Want to Be a Wizard, Diane Duane
  • The Magician’s Nephew, C.S. Lewis
  • The Dark is Rising, Susan Cooper

Watch the course trailer

About the teacher

Dr. Junius Johnson Dr. Johnson has more than 20 years of teaching experience, and is currently the executive director of Junius Johnson Academics. He is also a writer and musician.