UW-Platteville to be one of a few schools in state to offer ‘World Building’ course

December 5, 2013

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PLATTEVILLE, Wis. — The University of Wisconsin-Platteville will offer a “World Building” course for the first time this spring – one of the few schools in Wisconsin to offer this type of course. World building is the practice of creating a fictional world or reality to provide an original background and atmosphere for films, novels and video games, such as those created for “Avatar,” “The Lord of the Rings” and “Harry Potter.” Thomas Pitcher, English lecturer at UW-Platteville, will teach this English special topics course (English 3990).

“Almost any work of fiction relies on world building to some degree, but it is especially important in science fiction, fantasy and alternative histories or realities,” said Pitcher. “In those genres, storytellers can’t rely on the specifics of our world to delimit what is possible and impossible, so they have to devise new, internally consistent constraints to make their world believable. Having a magic steam locomotive in ‘Harry Potter’ makes sense, for example, but would seem inconsistent and odd in ‘The Lord of the Rings’ pre-industrial Middle Earth.”

The class will consist of students researching and examining models of worlds as well as crafting a cosmology, creation story, geography, history, culture, economy and technology base for their own world. Students will be asked to turn in a portfolio at the end of the semester containing these various aspects. Depending on the author, worlds might be created from scratch or from creative adaptations of modern society.

Pitcher said the course will be beneficial to storytellers who want to develop a consistent, immersive alternative reality that they can draw from when they create narratives in their medium of choice.

Contact: Thomas Pitcher, Department of Humanities, (608) 342-7239, pitcher@uwplatt.edu

Written by: Julian Robinson, Department of Humanities, (608) 342-1880, robinsonju@uwplatt.edu

Formatted by: Laurie Hamer, College of Liberal Arts and Education, (608) 342-6191, hamerl@uwplatt.edu

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