For best experience please turn on javascript and use a modern browser!
You are using a browser that is no longer supported by Microsoft. Please upgrade your browser. The site may not present itself correctly if you continue browsing.
In the Netherlands, we have no tradition of fantasy stories, though we can learn a lot by escaping to and thinking about fantasy worlds. Indeed, fantasy could well be the key to a better society, and the flexible policymakers who have to make it. That is why IIS is launching the Honours module 'World Building for Storytellers & Changemakers' this week, whose lectures (unique in the Netherlands) is the matching public podcast 'Fantasy Worlds', in Dutch: 'Fantasiewerelden'.

Podcast creator and author of the 'Handbook for the Young Rebel' Esther Crabbendam, together with speechwriter and rhetoric teacher Thomas van Neerbos, takes students as well as podcast listeners through the process of building a fantasy world, as we know it from Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter and Koning van Katoren.

Van Neerbos: "All good stories take us away, but only fantasy stories have the magic to disconnect us from thinking about that oppressive 'real world'. Fantasy thus challenges us to ask the following question: what if? That question is the starting point for a new thought process: one of proposing new possibilities. And with that, we can eventually move forward in this world too." 

The craft and podcast stem from the idea that fantasy worlds have more to contribute than relaxation and entertainment. Crabbendam: "Fantasy provides the opportunities to approach stuck problems in a new way. Using your imagination gets you out of your trenches, and you think more freely."

The podcast was created in collaboration with Day & Night Media. Tim de Gier was behind the idea for the craft: "fantasy is needed to study humans, to see how we behave in extreme situations". From the UvA, Andrea Manneke helped develop the honours subject (an elective that can only be taken by excellent students from all faculties): "I felt it was important to spark students' imagination with this course". The great thing about the podcast is that the episodes are not only available to Honours students but can be listened to by anyone.

In the episodes, Crabbendam and van Neerbos interview creators and experts on how to design your own fantasy world - as we know it from books, films, series, and games. They spoke to, among others, bestselling author Thomas Olde Heuvelt about the difference between fantasy in the Netherlands and the United States, UvA PhD student Anne-Rieke van Schaik about narrative maps, psychologist and UvA alumnus Thijs Launspach about developing a hero, screenwriter Manju Reijmer about writing good characters, storytelling expert Mieke Bouma about building a story and children's book author Jan Terlouw about writing about social problems. In the podcast, you can hear their stories.

You can listen to the podcast via Spotify or other podcast apps. The course started on Wednesday 2 November, the students will present their self-made worlds in an exhibition in January. Listeners of the podcast are expressly invited to share their devised worlds.