Building Imaginary Worlds

Book description

Mark J.P. Wolf’s study of imaginary worlds theorizes world-building within and across media, including literature, comics, film, radio, television, board games, video games, the Internet, and more. Building Imaginary Worlds departs from prior approaches to imaginary worlds that focused mainly on narrative, medium, or genre, and instead considers imaginary worlds as dynamic entities in and of themselves. Wolf argues that imaginary worlds—which are often transnarrative, transmedial, and transauthorial in nature—are compelling objects of inquiry for Media Studies. Chapters touch on:

    • a theoretical analysis of how world-building extends beyond storytelling, the engagement of the audience, and the way worlds are conceptualized and experienced
    • a history of imaginary worlds that follows their development over three millennia from the fictional islands of Homer’s Odyssey to the present
    • internarrative theory examining how narratives set in the same world can interact and relate to one another
    • an examination of transmedial growth and adaptation, and what happens when worlds make the jump between media
    • an analysis of the transauthorial nature of imaginary worlds, the resulting concentric circles of authorship, and related topics of canonicity, participatory worlds, and subcreation’s relationship with divine Creation

Building Imaginary Worlds also provides the scholar of imaginary worlds with a glossary of terms and a detailed timeline that spans three millennia and more than 1,400 imaginary worlds, listing their names, creators, and the works in which they first appeared.

Table of contents

  1. Cover
  2. Half Title
  3. Title Page
  4. Copyright Page
  5. Dedication
  6. Contents
  7. List of Figures
  8. Acknowledgements
  9. Introduction
    1. World-building as a Human Activity
    2. Toward a Theory of Imaginary Worlds
  10. 1 Worlds within the World
    1. The Philosophy of Possible Worlds
    2. Imagination, Creation, and Subcreation
    3. Degrees of Subcreation
    4. Story vs. World: Storytelling and World-building
    5. Invention, Completeness, and Consistency
      1. Invention
      2. Completeness
      3. Consistency
    6. Immersion, Absorption, and Saturation
    7. World Gestalten: Ellipsis, Logic, and Extrapolation
    8. Catalysts of Speculation
    9. Connecting the Secondary World to the Primary World
  11. 2 A History of Imaginary Worlds
    1. Transnarrative Characters and Literary Cycles
    2. The Mythical and Unknown World
    3. Travelers’ Tales and the Age of Exploration
    4. Utopias and Dystopias
    5. The Genres of Science Fiction and Fantasy
      1. Science Fiction
      2. Fantasy
    6. The Rise of Mass Media
      1. Early Cinema and Comic Strips
      2. Oz: The First Great Transmedial World
      3. Pulp Magazines
      4. Developments in Cinema and Theater
      5. Radio and Television
      6. Developments in Literature
    7. The Lord of the Rings and Tolkien’s Influence
    8. New Universes and the Rise of the Media Franchise
    9. Interactive Worlds
    10. Into the Computer Age
    11. Worlds as Art and Thought Experiments
  12. 3 World Structures and Systems of Relationships
    1. Secondary World Infrastructures
    2. Maps
    3. Timelines
    4. Genealogies
    5. Nature
    6. Culture
    7. Language
    8. Mythology
    9. Philosophy
    10. Tying Different Infrastructures Together
  13. 4 More than a Story: Narrative Threads and Narrative Fabric
    1. Narrative Threads, Braids, and Fabric
    2. Backstory and World History
    3. Sequence Elements and Internarrative Theory
    4. Retroactive Continuity (Retcon) and Reboots
    5. Crossovers, Multiverses, and Retroactive Linkages
    6. Interactivity and Alternate Storylines
    7. The Story of the World: “Making Of” Documentation
  14. 5 Subcreation within Subcreated Worlds
    1. Importance of the Word
    2. Self-reflexivity
    3. Subcreated Subcreators and Diegetic World-building
    4. Evil Subcreators
  15. 6 Transmedial Growth and Adaptation
    1. The Nature of Transmediality
    2. Windows on the World: Words, Images, Objects, Sounds, and Interactions
    3. Transmedial Expansion
      1. Description
      2. Visualization
      3. Auralization
      4. Interactivation
      5. Deinteractivation
    4. Encountering Transmedial Worlds
  16. 7 Circles of Authorship
    1. Open and Closed Worlds
    2. Levels of Canonicity
    3. Originator and Main Author
    4. Estates, Heirs, and Torchbearers
    5. Employees and Freelancers
    6. Approved, Derivative, and Ancillary Products
    7. Elaborationists and Fan Productions
    8. Participatory Worlds
    9. Creation, Subcreation, and the Imago Dei
  17. Appendix: Timeline of Imaginary Worlds
  18. Notes
  19. Glossary
  20. Index

Product information

  • Title: Building Imaginary Worlds
  • Author(s): Mark J.P. Wolf
  • Release date: March 2014
  • Publisher(s): Routledge
  • ISBN: 9781136220807