Upgrading the Owl House: Fantasy's Problem with Technology

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper


Technology in opposition to nature, itself often represented by magic, is one of the most prevalent themes throughout the Fantasy genre. We find it in Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, where Saruman’s industrialisation ravages first Fangorn and then the Shire, and we see it again in Disney’s recent animated series, The Owl House. In this, the main character Luz gains her powers by observing the natural world, while the antagonist, Emperor Belos, is framed by technology, gears and pipes digging into the literal heart of the land behind his throne. At first, it appears technology is a negative force, diametrically opposed to the heroes’ natural magic. However, this is undermined by the introduction of Hunter, a character who cannot use magic without the aid of an artificial staff. Technology allows him to participate in his magical society and so reframes the show’s exploration of the theme.
In this talk, I intend to use The Owl House to examine Fantasy’s relationship with technology. This will place it within the Hopepunk subgenre, which breaks from dystopian trends within speculative fiction by instead focusing on acts of resistance and maintaining an optimistic perspective. By exploring the ways The Owl House follows the genre’s thematic norms, and the ways it diverts from these, we can see how they might be better explored in light of modern experiences and the importance of technology in achieving a more inclusive and sustainable future.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished online - 2 Dec 2023
EventInvoking Action and Empathy for the Planet: A Writing for the Earth Conference - Ulster University, Belfast, Belfast, United Kingdom
Duration: 2 Dec 2023 → …


ConferenceInvoking Action and Empathy for the Planet: A Writing for the Earth Conference
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
Period2/12/23 → …
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