Accepting the Unacceptable: Textual Accessibility in Baum's Oz Books, L'Engle's Time Quartet, and Rowling's Harry Potter Series


Melissa Smith

Date of Graduation

Summer 2005


Master of Arts in English



Committee Chair

Joel Chaston


The genre of fantastical literature is subject to many misconceptions, and audiences often find the reading of such texts difficult because they require refers to as a willing suspension of disbelief. Some fantastical works, however, are much more accessible. L. Frank Baum’s Oz book, Madeleine L’Engle’s Time quartet, and J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series are accessible to the reader because the protagonists begin their journeys in the reader’s familiar reality. Dorothy Gale, the Murry children and Harry Potter all live in the real world before their adventures begin. Additionally, each series creates textual accessibility by establishing a sense of familiarity within the setting. Baum’s Oz is the American fairy tale, and the setting contains creatures that a Western reader would find familiar. L’Engle creates a familiar world by building on the traditional Christian ideology held by many readers. Finally, Rowling creates accessibility in Harry Potter by detailing the rules and limits to the magical world. Understanding how authors establish textural accessibility in these three series offers a real explanation to their popular success and insight into why some fantastical literature is so well received by mainstream audiences.


children's literature, young adult literature, fantasy, willing suspension of disbelief, Frank L. Baum, Madeleine L'Engle, J.K. Rowling

Subject Categories

English Language and Literature


© Melissa Smith