"That's All We Are": Storytelling as Postcolonial Praxis in Five North American Urban Fantasy Novels
Helen Young characterizes urban fantasy as a genre wherein the suppressed past invades the modern world. Scholars have studied this aspect of the genre with regards to many issues, such as racial dynamics and the conflict between the natural world and the city. In a settler colonial context, however, the contact between past and present brings up questions about the nature of the settler state. How do we construct our communal and individual identities? What are the ongoing effects of colonialism? What does a just future look like? This thesis situates urban fantasy in its colonial context and examines its colonial roots. It discusses five North American urban fantasy novels from settler, immigrant, and Indigenous authors—specifically, urban fantasy novels in which figures and creatures from diverse traditional cultural stories are living beings who interact with humans in modern society. This thesis draws on postcolonial and settler colonial theory by Mary Louise Pratt, Patrick Wolfe, and others in order to examine how these novels answer the above questions. By examining the relationships between different cultural figures and between humans and figures of story, this thesis argues that urban fantasy portrays characters’ strong connections to their cultural stories as the power and means by which they challenge colonial injustices and build a better future.
Fantasy, Urban Fantasy, Postcolonial Studies, Charles de Lint, O. R. Melling, Darcie Little Badger, Nalo Hopkinson, K. Ming Chang, Colonization, Decolonization, Indigenous literatures, Canadian Literature, North American Literature
Master of Arts (M.A.)