Date of Award

Spring 5-20-2022

Author's School

Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts

Author's Department

Graduate School of Art

Degree Name

Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Illustration & Visual Culture

Degree Type



This essay explores the realms of special places, the literary genre of fantasy, narrative, and comics. These topics are traversed alongside subjects of adolescence and the creation of stories for middle-grade readers. Framed with personal stories, as well as peaks into my process, I investigate these subjects through the lens of my own life and work, specifically my thesis project, a comic for middle-grade readers titled Beyond the Castle Walls. Beginning with adolescence in association with special places, I consider the work of developmental psychologists David Sobel and Edith Cobb as they pin-point the role of secret forts, nature, and imagination in middle childhood development. Moving into storytelling, narrative is defined through the perspective of Greek philosopher Aristotle alongside American cartoonist and comics theorist Scott McCloud, examining how comics and cartooning formally function as pathways for narrative content. Looking to fantasy as narrative tool, I explore essays on the subject by English writer and philologist J.R.R. Tolkien and American Poet W.H. Auden, defining fantasy and its role within storytelling. The essay concludes in defining a method of storytelling that aims to aid in the personal development of its audience by using real life experiences and places, along with narrative, to build a secondary world. This method brings together the topics of place, fantasy, narrative, comics, and developmental psychology in creating stories for young readers, allowing the story to become a technology for simulating a transitional experience in life.



Program Chair

John Hendrix