Robin Harry Mark Turner

FAE InstructorFADA / FHL
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The Functions of Fantasy

This course examines fantasy from different perspectives. In the first few weeks we will try to find a definition of fantasy fiction and ask if it has any value other than light entertainment. We will then look at “high fantasy”—classic fantasy set in an imaginary world, such as J.R.R. Tolkien's Middle-earth, G. R. R. Martin's Westeros or C. S. Lewis' Narnia, and of course online worlds like Azeroth. In the last part of the course we will examine the currently popular trend called “low fantasy”, “dark fantasy” or “urban fantasy”, looking in particular at Twilight, Supernatural and True Blood. Throughout the course the focus will be on the functions that fantasy performs, or in other words, what fantasy does, whether deliberately or unconsciously. These functions include:

  • entertainment;
  • escaping a boring or stressful reality;
  • reinforcing social norms, values or prejudices;
  • challenging social norms, values or prejudices;
  • experimenting with different ways of looking at people and societies;
  • developing imagination and empathy.
The Purposes of Play

This is a course about issues concerning play and games, and in particular about their applications or purposes. This is paradoxical, since that a characteristic of play seems to be that it has no purpose beyond itself, but nevertheless we see games being used for a variety of purposes, from physical fitness to learning languages. We will therefore attempt to answer questions such as:

  • What is a game? How are games different from other activities?
  • Why do we play?
  • What effects do games have?
  • How are game elements used in everyday life?
Behavioral Change

In this course you will choose a behaviour that you wish to modify - either something you think people should do more, or something they should do less - and come up with a proposal for changing it. Recommended methods are environmental design and gamification.

Books, articles and conference papers
Turner, R. (1997). Combining cognitive and language skills: a critical thinking course for social science students. In J. Spring & B. Gilroy (Eds.), English Medium Higher Education: the challenge of content, skills and language. Ankara: Bilkent University.
--- (2000, 2009). From brainstorm to bibliography: writing a term paper in the social sciences and humanities. Bilkent University internal publication, available at
--- (2004). “Guns, lots of guns”: the role of violence in The Matrix. Molly, a Pop Culture Zine, (1), 20–32.
--- (2004). “Male logic” and “women’s intuition”. In P. Callaghan & A. Dobyns (Eds.), Meeting minds: a brief rhetoric for writers and readers. New York: Longman.
--- (2005). Easing students into academia: popular culture in the CBI curriculum. In S. Phipps (Ed.), Challenge in learning: helping learners realise their full potential. Ankara: Bilkent University.
--- (2005). First steps to the virtual classroom. In FAE: Proceedings of the sixth annual symposium. Ankara: Bilkent University.
--- (2006). “How do you know she’s a woman?’ Features, prototypes and category stress in Turkish kadın and kız. In Cognitive linguistics investigations: Across languages, fields, and philosophical boundaries (pp. 219–234). Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
--- (2007, February) [Review of the book The steam magnate by D. Copithorne]. Broadsheet.
--- (2011). Giving feedback online: Pros and cons. Modern English Teacher, 20(4).
--- (2013). Student perceptions of video tutorials. In J. O’Dwyer (Ed.), Teachers exploring practice for professional learning. Ankara: Bilkent University.
--- (2014) Lying, cheating or stealing: Plagiarism, the essay as game, and the myth of intellectual property. In B. Rodriguez (Ed.) Refresh: The changing role of Freshman English. Istanbul: Sabancı University.
--- (2017) Game-based learning, serious games, and gamification: A necessary but confusing distinction. In Y. Baek (Ed.) Game-based learning: Theory, strategies and performance outcomes (pp. 83–95). Haupagge, NY: Nova Science.
--- (forthcoming) What testers can learn from games. In T. Akşit, H.İ. Mengü & Robin Turner (eds.) Classroom Assessment: Bridging Learning, Teaching and Assessment. Newcastle: Cambridge Scholars.
A Hero’s Journey: Robin Turner at TEDxYouth@BLIS available at
What Educators Can Learn from Games (Bilkent Library lunchtime lecture) available at
Other videos available at
Perlconc, an online application for corpus analysis. Source code available from
Awlcheck, a online application for checking a text against the Academic Word List. Source code available from

Robin is interested in linguistics, philosophy, computer and technology issues, and Turkish language and culture. He also practices t'ai chi and enjoys working out with weights.

Robin was born in Shropshire, England. He graduated in English and Music from Leeds University, and later obtained an MA in Linguistics from Surrey University. He came to Bilkent in 1993, after teaching in schools in Britain, Spain and Turkey.