Sponsored by Cornell University's Institute for Digital Collections (CIDC) this image-bank provides a visual resource for the study of the Fantastic or of the supernatural in fiction and in art. While the site emerges from a comparative literature course on the topic at Skidmore College, it is also intended to open the door to consideration of some of the constant structures and patterns of fantastic literature, and the problems they raise. In this sense, the materials presented here may find a use among students in a variety of disciplines.
In order to take maximum advantage of the materials in the Cornell collections, it seemed best not to adhere to a strict definition of either the Fantastic or its predecessor, the Marvelous, as these have emerged in literary criticism and theory. It will be useful, nevertheless, to note some general markers which have informed the choices implicit in these pages. In the context of western literature of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, The Fantastic involves dread, fear and anxiety in the face of phenomena that escape rational explanation, or that reveal the notion of reality to be no more than a construct. A fantastic experience can therefore be likened to the breaking or shattering of a frame. While the literary fantastic is limited to the last 200 years, the Fantastic in art can be construed more broadly. This elasticity allowed us to choose images from works spanning a period from medieval manuscripts and printed incunabulae, to the early twentieth century.
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