Date of Award

Spring 2004

Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



First Advisor

Dr. Elisabeth Gruner


Ursula K. Le Guin, Philip Pullman, and Gene Wolfe, despite their apparent ideological as well as stylistic differences, all profoundly question the way modernity has divided knowledge, posing serious challenges to contemporary distinctions between religion, science and magic. Moreover, they share a common concern for the power of narrative to accomplish this critique.

In each of their multivolume fantasies, the differences between the categories of science and religion become meaningless. After such a deconstruction, the possibility of nihilism looms unless a new system of meaning surfaces. The move away from discrete areas of science and religion, therefore, in these works constitutes a move toward (or, perhaps, a return to) narrative as a new semiotic after previous semiotics have failed. I argue that their fictior1s resonate with the narrative concerns of Stanley Hauerwas by offerering narrative as a necessary means for making sense of the world. Along with Hauerwas they share an ethical concern for the necessity of story. As fantasies, these works all assume cosmological significance behind their stories; in each case, whole worlds are at stake. It matters, in other words, what happens. These fantasy stories present the radical ability of narrative to shape and reshape the fate of worlds.