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Vitruvius, Critics, and the Architecture of Worlds: Extra-Narratival Material and Critical World-Building

Authors Stefan Ekman
Published in Fafnir – Nordic Journal of Science Fiction and Fantasy Research
Volume 6
Issue 1
Pages 118-31
ISSN 2342-2009
Publication year 2019
Published at Swedish National Data Service (SND)
Pages 118-31
Language en
Keywords critical world-building, world architecture, roleplaying games, lore, illustrations, codex, Dungeons & Dragons, Anomaly comic
Subject categories General Literature Studies, Specific Literatures


In this essay, I look at non-narratival world-building. I introduce the concept of critical world-building and outline my view of world-building as architecture. "World-architecture" then provides the basis for my analysis. I propose that the world-architectural way of reading a world would work just as well with worlds built in any medium, textual or non-textual, narrated or non-narrated. My first example shows how a collection of “lore” in a computer game or (in my case) a graphic-novel app can offer material for a scholar who analyses the world of the story. Then I turn to a world without any explicit narrative, using the illustrations from a Dungeons & Dragons rule book to show what they can say about the implied game world.

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