When it Changed: Women in SF/F Since 1972 Recap

The following report was written by 3rd year PhD student Emma French who contributed to running the conference. Emma’s research is focused on the intertextualities between literary fantasy and the tabletop roleplaying game Dungeons & Dragons (D&D). She can be found on twitter at howlsmovinglib.

The keynotes from this conference can be viewed here:

When it Changed Conference Recap

By Emma French

The 2nd-4th December 2022 saw the hosting of ‘When It Changed: Women in SF/F since 1972’, an online conference organised collaboratively by the Science Fiction Foundation, the Centre for Fantasy and the Fantastic, and the Games and Gaming Lab at the University of Glasgow. This conference marked the 50th anniversary of Joanna Russ’ landmark short story, and celebrated contributions to the genre by women and people from other marginalised backgrounds that are indebted to her legacy. Paul March-Russel and Kate Heffner pulled together a wonderful conference filled to the brim with papers from international fans, scholars, and fiction writers. My academic work on an area of contemporary fantasy that is grappling with its own legacies of sexism and racism. This conference was a nice and welcome reminder of SF/F’s long history of creative practitioners, academics, and fans who have also come up against similar issues, grappled with them through their beautiful creative work, and made real and tangible changes to the field that are still felt today. As both Lisa Yaszek and Cheryl Morgan noted in their keynote speeches, while it can feel very isolating to be in a period of backlash marked by 2009’s Race Fail, 2013-2017’s Sad Puppies, and current transphobia within UK genre fiction today, even just a brief look back at history can show that these periods of feminist growth and resultant backlash have always happened. And when they do, those leading the backlash are nearly always in the minority, and eventually overcome. With 2022 feeling like a very hostile place, this affirmation of a slow bend towards an inclusive genre full of diverse voices and creative potential was much needed! 

The conference was filled with wonderful and inspiring papers and panels, focusing on the history of Russ’ contributions and the work of her contemporaries; current work within Science Fiction and Fantasy that grapple with the same issues they faced; as well as certain topics very particular to our current moment in 2022. In particular, a major thematic focus on maternity, the female body, and reproductive rights emerged, in the wake of Roe vs. Wade. There were also several papers discussing trans and genderqueer representations, presenting an inclusive definition of womanhood. ‘Panel 5: Vandana Singh’ and ‘Panel 7: The View from Brazil’ spotlighted non-white perspectives on the genre and its major canonical works, alongside many papers discussing whiteness within SF/F and its associated fan communities, addressing a previously elided or evaded discussion of race within the field. 

‘When It Changed’ also hosted three excellent keynotes from Professor Lisa Yaszek, Hugo-award winning critic and publisher Cheryl Morgan, and Professor Joy Sanchez-Taylor. Yaszek’s talk, ‘A Brief History of Gender and Genre in the SF Anthology’, traced the history of feminist debate and thought in Science Fiction from 17th-century author Margaret Cavendish to the present day. In her conclusion she noted that, while there are occasional periods of backlash and ‘steps back’, ‘yet we continue to thrive’. Morgan’s keynote focused on measurable data, discussing the diversity present within the Hugo Awards finalists and winners, as well as the structural inequalities in the collation and curation of Science Fiction and Fantasy and its history that can result in women’s writing being suppressed. While this data seemed to present a positive trend towards more focus on women and those from other marginalised identities, Morgan ended on an interesting and important counterargument, that an industry becoming ‘women’s work’ can often indicate that it is becoming undervalued, ‘and so, the struggle goes on’. 

In contrast, Sanchez-Taylor’s talk focused less on the SF/F’s historical trends and instead on the history of a single case study: the female figure of the ‘witch’ or ‘bruja’ in fantasy and science fiction. Sanchez-Taylor highlighted innumerable works of contemporary fantasy that have begun to revise this trope, including Ryka Aoki’s Light From Uncommon Stars, and Zoraida Cordova’s Labyrinth Lost. 

However, Sanchez-Taylor also closed her talk with a call to action and activism within academia itself, advocating for the support of the work and publications of female scholars, particularly women of colour and caretakers. 

All three keynotes, and many of the panels, ultimately served to remind me that if we wish to continue to uphold the cause of feminism within academia, fan communities, and genre publishing, it is nothing less than a collaborative effort. We must all be mindful to promote and elevate works by women, queer voices, and people of colour, either by citing them in our research or teaching them in our classes and curriculum. We must celebrate the awesome, original, and honestly just fun stories that such a diversity of perspectives produces, and be mindful of how we can use our own power and privileges to help others.

Announcing the Wat Dryhope Award

The cover of A History Maker (1994),
by Alasdair Gray

Alasdair Gray’s novella A History Maker (1994) is set in a Scotland of the future which understands human history, past and future, in terms of the domestic household. The global economy has been transformed by the invention of a universally available green energy source, the powerplant stalk: a column of light that extends from the ground to the clouds, requiring no input or maintenance except what is provided by the local ecosphere, and capable of converting all available material into whatever a household needs, from books and minerals to china dolls. As a result, societies have rearranged themselves into small domestic units organised around individual powerplant stalks, each unit directed by a group of matriarchal ‘aunts’ whose ‘gossip’ helps them resolve every crisis faced by their community.

The men of the future amuse themselves by staging wargames between local communities, fought with real weapons and involving a sometimes spectacular body count. The book’s protagonist, Wat Dryhope, acquires cult status among the spectators of these wargames thanks to his part in winning a victory for his clan against all odds. As a result, he finds himself drawn into a worldwide plot to overthrow the matriarchy by destroying the powerplants that supply its households. Wat represents, in fact, the intrusion of history into a world that sees itself as having left history behind; history, here, being largely the product of dissatisfied men seeking to gain power by violence over as many households as they can, often because of some personal resentment caused by their upbringing. Only the matriarchs and their gossip can prevent this utopia of the future from lapsing back into its historical state of continuous warfare.

The intrusion of history into a settled world is also, for Gray, the realisation of story. Hailed as a hero, Wat stands in danger of coming to embody the desire of certain men and women to transfer their fantasies wholesale from the space of storytelling into the public and private spheres, with consequences as disastrous as you might expect if you like to read action adventures or indulge in extravagant fantasies. Mark Twain, among others, shared this awareness of the disastrous effects of confusing the real and the fantastic, ascribing the American Civil War to the passion of Southern Gentlemen for reading the romances of Sir Walter Scott, and for imposing the terms of those romances unchanged on their unfortunate nation. Gray’s world of the future, set in the Scottish landscape quite close to Scott’s home in Abbotsford, involves instead a constant interplay between fantasy and reality, and so invites us to consider how best to achieve a healthy relationship between the two. Gray politicizes fantasy, in other words, and encourages his thinking readers to do the same.

Alasdair Gray
Image Courtesy The Alasdair Gray Archive

Wat Dryhope is not simply an embodiment of toxic masculinity or imperialist self-delusion. He also represents a resistance to complacency: dreams and fantasies as stimulants to reflection, invention, needful transformation. His disruption of the matriarchy leads it to needful self-reformation, giving new creative functions to the men who had formerly been wasting their lives in pointless combat. And he ends his life as a wandering Gangrel: one of those travellers whose philosophy of constant movement and debate challenges the self-satisfaction of the settlements they refuse to settle in. His first name recalls both ‘Walter’, invoking the internationally acclaimed and notoriously conservative writer of romances, and Wat Tyler, the leader of the fourteenth-century peasant’s revolt whose life was an inspiration to the socialist writer-artist William Morris. His second name summons up both the old word wanhope – despair, depression, despondency – and the conviction that the green shoots of hope can spring from the driest of grounds (‘For there is hope of a tree, if it be cut down, that it will sprout again, and that the tender branch thereof will not cease’; ‘Thus saith the Lord GOD unto these bones; Behold, I will cause breath to enter into you, and ye shall live’). Like most of us, and like the fantasy genre, he is a thing of contrasts.

The Wat Dryhope Award is intended to reward thought on fantasy. To this end it is presented annually to the best-performing student in the MLitt English Literature: Fantasy at the University of Glasgow. The Centre for Fantasy and the Fantastic thanks the Estate of Alasdair Gray for giving us permission to name the award after one of his quirkiest and most unsettling protagonists.

Call for Papers: GIFCon 2023 Boundaries and Margins


Boundaries and Margins in Fantasy 

The Centre for Fantasy and the Fantastic is pleased to announce a call for papers for Glasgow International Fantasy Conversations (GIFCon) 2023 (to be held online on 10-12 May 2023) with the theme of ‘Boundaries and Margins’

Brian Attebery famously argued in Strategies of Fantasy that fantasy can be conceptualised as a ‘fuzzy set,’ with the edges of the genre mainly understood through the lens of what is placed at its centre. Given the subjectivity inherent to this definition, notions of boundaries (or lack there-of) have been a key concern to academic and critical discourse on fantasy and the fantastic, as well as a preoccupation of fictional texts, with fantastical occurrences often being germinated in liminal spaces and margins. As Rosemary Jackson claims in Fantasy: A Literature of Subversion, “The dismissal of the fantastic to the margins of literary culture is in itself an ideologically significant gesture, one which is not dissimilar to culture’s silencing of unreason.” However, while fantasy fandom has historically perceived itself as being on the margins, the genre and its presumed canon privileges a narrow selection of voices and texts, pushing alternate perspectives to the edges of the fuzzy set. Despite the conception of fantasy as the literature of the impossible, the delimitation of margins and boundaries can undermine the potential offered by multiplicity, eliding certain works and creative practitioners from genre, subcultural fan communities, and academic research. 

Boundaries and their transgression have often been seen as inherent to textual encounters with fantasy. This thematic concern with the perceived limits of consensus reality arguably makes it uniquely suited for representing the lived experience of those marginalised by such definitions of realism. Examining the borders of both reality and the genre are central to contemporary fantasy studies, from negotiating the fantastical geographies of works such as Lud-in-the-Mist, Doctor Who, and The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild to contested borders of genre in Gideon the Ninth, Star Wars, and Horizon: Zero Dawn. The genre is increasingly acknowledging the perspective of racially, culturally, and ethnically marginalised creative practitioners, such as in the works of Nalo Hopkinson, Guillermo del Torro, NK Jemisin, Rebecca Roanhorse, and Nghi Vho. Fantasy’s academic discourse is becoming less concerned with establishing a canonical ‘centre’ and more with examining those margins, as seen in the work of Sami Schalk, Ebony Elizabeth Thomas, Rukmini Pande, and Maria Sachiko Cecire. Marginality is the space where fantasy happens.  

How do academics, creative practitioners, and fans create, enforce, or challenge boundaries in the production, distribution, and reception of fantasy texts? Fantasy and the fantastic have myriad capabilities for challenging hegemony, but how can that capacity be fully utilised? 

GIFCon 2023 is a three-day virtual conference that seeks to examine boundaries and margins within fantasy, be they textual, linguistic, geographical, embodied, or imposed. We welcome proposals for papers relating to this theme from researchers and practitioners working in the field of fantasy and the fantastic across all media, whether within the academy or beyond it. We are particularly interested in submissions from postgraduate and early career researchers, and researchers whose work focuses on fantasy from the margins. We also invite ideas for creative workshops for those interested in exploring how the creative processes of fantastic storytelling and worldbuilding can engage with boundaries and margins  from a practice-based perspective.  

We ask for abstracts for 20-minute papers. See our Suggested Topics list below for further inspiration. Please submit a 300-word abstract and a 100-word bionote via this form by January 6th 2023 at midnight GMT

We also ask for workshop descriptions for 75-minute creative workshops. Please submit a 100-word description and a 100-word bionote via this form by January 6th 2023 at midnight GMT

If you have any questions regarding our event or our CfP, please contact us at GIFCon@glasgow.ac.uk. Please also read through our Code of Conduct. We look forward to your submissions! 

Suggested topics include, but are not limited to, the following: 

  • Fantasy texts and media by creative practitioners from marginalised backgrounds  
  • The mediation of marginality and marginalised identities in fantasy and fantasy worldbuilding 
  • Liminality, threshold-crossing, and physical or intangible borders in fantasy 
  • Boundaries or lack thereof between fantasy media (including but not limited to literature, film, television, theatre, oral traditions, comic books, video and tabletop games, new media, virtual reality, theme parks, podcasts, scripts, visual arts) 
  • Characters and creatures on the margins 
  • Texts and practices beyond the Anglophone and Anglocentric fantastic 
  • Boundaries of bodies, gender, sexuality, and romantic attraction in fantasy 
  • Boundaries of race and ethnicity in fantasy 
  • Representations of class in fantasy media, and its role in shaping fandom, creative practice, and academic research 
  • Transgressions of boundaries 
  • Boundaries between fantasy and reality or realism 
  • Intertextuality, metatextuality, and marginalia in fantasy 
  • Regional genres and traditions of fantasy 
  • Hybridity in genre and form, problems of classification and definition in fantasy and the fantastic 
  • Boundaries in magic systems 
  • Interdisciplinarity and cross-disciplinarity 
  • Fandom as marginalised community, and fans’ own practices of enforcing boundaries, e.g. gatekeeping 
  • Fantasy creation, fandom, and academic research as cult practices 
  • The role of marketing and promotional materials in shaping boundaries and margins 
  • Awards and notions of legitimacy as boundaries 
  • Fantasy, the fantastic, folklore and myth in national and regional contexts 
  • Worldbuilding and fictional boundaries 
  • Boundaries and margins on fantasy in the academy 
  • Negotiation of boundaries placed by cultural industries and governments 

Follow us on twitter for more updates!

Call for Papers Volume: Dissenting Beliefs: Heresy and Heterodoxy in Fantasy

Religious fantasy, for a great many readers, is synonymous with Christian fantasy; more specifically, it is understood as literature overtly reproducing biblical narratives within a fantasy world, such as C. S. Lewis’ The Chronicles of Narnia. Concurrently, fantasy texts engaging with theology through non-allegorical means that challenge mainstream Christian doctrine are all too often dismissed as disingenuous, offensive or deliberately antagonistic. While this is sometimes the case, such a narrow view of religious fantasy excludes all but the least innovative texts from the genre and leaves little room for authors of other faiths. Furthermore, the dominance of texts affirming orthodoxy in religious fantasy discourse threatens to blind us to another side of belief: that radical, sometimes even heretical, literary reconfigurations of religion can also be acts of devotion. 

If religious fantasy is instead allowed to encompass heterodoxy and heresy, theological subversions and expressions of misotheism, then the affordances of religious fantasy expand far beyond the didacticism popularly attributed to it. Understood in these terms, religious fantasy can be used: to affirm one’s identity and spiritual worth in opposition to official doctrines which may deny it, as a tool of protest against unjust systems of power, to explore complex spiritual responses to historical instances of religious complicity in atrocities, or to express lived spiritual experiences which do not conform to orthodox teachings. 

Following on from the ‘Dissenting Beliefs’ conference sponsored by the Centre for Fantasy and the Fantastic at the University of Glasgow in December 2021, this edited volume aims to encompass the depth and breadth of new scholarship on the affordances of heresy and heterodoxy in fantasy across a wide range of faiths. We welcome proposals for eventual peer-reviewed chapters of 5,000-7,000 words, and we especially welcome submissions from postgraduate students and early-career researchers. Chapters might address, but are not limited to, the following topics: 

  • Queer, feminist and womanist theology in fantasy 
  • Non-Western, post-colonial or anti-colonial heresies and fantasy 
  • Misotheism, ‘New’ Atheism and Death of God theology in fantasy 
  • Fantasy and interreligious dialogue 
  • The affordances of fantasy in theologies of protest 
  • New Media’s interactions with fantasy and theology, and how this might differ from traditional media 

Please submit a 300-word abstract and a short bio (maximum 150 words) to Dissenting.Beliefs@gmail.com with the subject line ‘Abstract Submission’ by 3 October 2022. We are particularly keen to highlight the contributions of authors who are underrepresented in scholarship on religion and theology in fantasy; therefore we will not be accepting submissions on the works of J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, J.K. Rowling or Philip Pullman. 

CFP: Tolkien and Fantasy sessions at ICMS Kalamazoo 2023

The Call for Papers for the 58th International Congress on Medieval Studies in Kalamazoo, Michigan, USA (May 11–May 13, 2023) is now open. Proposals of papers and contributions to roundtables are due Sept. 15, 2022. The Centre for Fantasy and the Fantastic, University of Glasgow, is sponsoring two sessions: 

Tolkien and Medieval Constructions of Race (A Roundtable)

Organised by: Mariana Rios Maldonado
Modality: Virtual

British Library, Royal 19 D I f. 65: Saracens and Christians

The construction of race in J.R.R. Tolkien’s Middle-earth narratives, legendarium, and their adaptations represents even now a gap within Tolkien scholarship. The adverse reactions to the 2021 Tolkien Society’s “Tolkien and Diversity” Seminar and the diverse casting of the upcoming Lord of the Rings series highlight the pressing importance of addressing this subject from all areas of Tolkien scholarship, including medieval studies. This roundtable will bring these discussions to the forefront, with special consideration towards the ground-breaking, critical inputs by medievalists of colour and the field’s intersection with postcolonial theory. Contributions from all scholarly approaches are welcome.

Ursula K. Le Guin’s Marvelous Medievalism

Organised by: Kristine A. Swank
Modality: In person (in Kalamazoo, MI)

Ursula K. Le Guin
Photo by Eileen Gunn

Ursula K. Le Guin (1929–2018) left an unparalleled legacy of masterworks in science fiction and fantasy. Several of her imagined worlds were founded upon or enriched by global medieval influences from Europe, Asia, North & South America. This paper session will explore and examine some of Le Guin’s marvelous medievalisms, her sources and influences, and their effects on her fiction. Papers might employ any scholarly approach. Possible texts include Always Coming Home, Annals of the Western Shore (Gifts, Voices, Powers), The Beginning Place, Earthsea series, Eye of the Heron, Hainish cycle, Lavinia, Orsinian Tales, and Le Guin’s short stories.

All proposals must be made through the Congress’s Confex system. Please carefully follow the instructions on the Congress’s Call for Papers.

CFP: Tolkien sessions at IMC Leeds 2023

Paper abstracts are currently being sought for the following Tolkien sessions for the International Medieval Congress at Leeds, 3-6 July 2023.  The special thematic strand of this conference will be Networks and Entanglements.  See more here https://www.imc.leeds.ac.uk/imc-2023/

We are very pleased that the 2023 IMC Tolkien Sessions will again be sponsored by the Centre for Fantasy and the Fantastic at the University of Glasgow.

Paper submissions are being sought for the following sessions:

Tolkien: Medieval Roots and Modern Branches

This session can accommodate wider topics and new approaches to Tolkien’s medievalism, ranging from source studies and theoretical readings, to comparative studies of Tolkien’s works. 

Tolkien’s Medieval Entanglements 

Throughout his life and academic work Tolkien explored and grappled with some of the most perplexing and interesting cruxes and entanglements of medieval literature and language.  This session will explore examples of Tolkien’s engagement with these ‘medieval entanglements’ and how he sought potential solutions for them through both his own academic research and fictional worldbuilding. 

Tolkien’s Work and Academic Networks at Leeds

J.R.R. Tolkien established his academic career at the University of Leeds, joining as a Reader in 1920, aged 28, before being promoted to Professor within a few years. By the time he left in 1925 he had established the School as a UK leader in Old Icelandic language and literature.  Papers in this session can explore elements of Tolkien’s academic as well as fictional work while he was at the University of Leeds.  Papers can also explore the work of colleagues that formed part of Tolkien’s academic network(s) while he was at Leeds.   

New Work and Methods in Tolkien Research – Making the Links

Papers in this session can explore new methods of academic research that can be applied to both Tolkien and Middle-earth studies and what these methodologies are revealing for the continuing academic dialogue around Tolkien and both his academic and fictional works.  

Disentangling the Second Age of Middle-earth

In Tolkien’s great masterwork The Lord of the Rings, the Second Age of Middle-earth is a time remembered in poetry and song and the memories of such witnesses to its history as Elrond and Galadriel. In this session we are seeking papers that deal specifically with elements of the history, peoples and events of the Second Age of Middle-earth which saw the rise of the great evil that would cast its shadow over Middle-earth in the Third Age.  Papers in this session can be in dialogue with the upcoming Amazon Prime The Lord of the Rings: Rings of Power series as well as the new book The Fall of Númenor And Other Tales from the Second Age of Middle-earth which will be published by HarperCollins in November 2022.

The Lord of the Rings: Rings of Power and Questions of Adaptation and Authenticity – A Round Table 

Our continuing Tolkien at Leeds Round Table series will explore one of the most significant new adaptations of Tolkien’s works, Amazon Prime’s The Lord of the Rings: Rings of Power series.  Participants will offer short presentations on some element of this series and how it is (or is not) in dialogue with Tolkien’s texts and what this new adaptation develops or reveals in the expanding body of adaptations of Tolkien’s world-building.   

  • Please submit a paper contribution title and abstract by 31 August 2022 to  Dr. Andrew Higgins (asthiggins@me.com)
  • Length of abstracts: 150 words (max!) 
  • Papers will be 15-20 minutes long
  • With your abstract, please include name and details of contributor (affiliation, address, and preferred e-mail address)

CFP: When it Changed: Women in SF/F Since 1972 (3-4 Dec 2022)

Keynote Speakers: Cheryl Morgan and Joy Sanchez-Taylor

To mark the 50th anniversary of Joanna Russ’s landmark short story, ‘When It Changed’, the Science Fiction Foundation, and the Centre for Fantasy and the Fantastic and Games and Gaming Lab the University of Glasgow are proposing an online conference on women’s role in reshaping science fiction.

Fifty years after Russ’s game-changing story, the major sf/f prizes are being won by women, among them N.K. Jemisin, Mary Robinette Kowal, Laura Jean McKay and Martha Wells. To these we can add the posthumous success of Octavia E. Butler and the mainstream acclaim of writers such as Susanna Clarke. Despite such controversies as ‘Puppygate’, sf/f now appears to be a more inclusive place, partly because of the role played by women.

If sf/f has indeed changed, in what ways did women help to cause this happen? On the other hand, does the glamour of sales and literary prizes for a few select authors disguise structural inequities within sf/f that endure from the 1970s? We invite papers of 20 minutes in length that will debate these questions. Possible topics may include (but are not limited to):

  • Imagining post-patriarchal futures
  • Lesbian, non-binary and trans representations
  • Women and Indigenous futurisms
  • Women and technoculture
  • Disability studies and the medical humanities
  • Women, ecology and the ‘Manthropocene’
  • Space opera and planetary romance
  • Sf/f and Young Adult fiction
  • Women and the graphic novel
  • Video, table-top and role-playing games
  • Fanzines and fan cultures
  • Modes of production and consumption – women as editors, reviewers, publishers
  • Feminist presses and imprints
  • The New Wave and literary experimentalism
  • The role of the female auteur in sf music and cinema
  • Women and sf/f criticism and theory
  • Exploding the sf/f canon – re-visioning sf/f histories
  • Sf/f and social/digital media
  • Transmedia and adaptation studies
  • Canonisation and the role of literary awards

Proposals of up to 250 words with a bionote of 50 words should be submitted to Dr Paul March-Russell (paulmarchrussell@gmail.com) by 9 August 2022. We are also interested in ideas for panels on special topics related to the conference theme. A selection of papers will be published in the winter 2023 issue of Foundation.

GIFCon 2022 Fantasy Across Media Workshops

The Programme can be found here.

Abstracts and Speaker Bios can be found here.

Keynote Bios and Roundtable information can be found here.

Event registration here.

Registration for workshops is now open for GIFCon attendees!

Workshops have limited availability so you must sign up in order to attend.
The two workshops that GIFCon are offering this year happen concurrently on Day 2 Thursday April 28th from 11:10-12:25.

After you have registered for your workshop, an email will be sent with instructions. Registration links for the workshops are included in the programme in the conference packet but you will not receive Zoom links to join them unless registered.

Unlike the panels, the workshops will not be recorded so we ask you only register for a workshop you can attend live to allow for the spaces to be filled with active participants. Spaces are limited, so please make sure you sign up for only one workshop. Hope to see you there!

We are pleased to offer the following workshops this year:

Small Tools, Small Games, Small Memories

Up to 15 can participate in this workshop – sign up here.

When video games are discussed both in and outside of academia, one much-prevailing narrative that surfaces in conversation is that developing interactive pieces is almost always a huge undertaking requiring sizable teams of developers with decades of expertise and knowledge.

This is not all there is to video game development and video game making, however. “Small tools” such as Adam Le Doux’s Bitsy and Chris Klimas’ Twine make it possible to create impactful narrative-focused games that invite makers with little to no familiarity with game development practices to the table.

This workshop is open to those who are interested in making narrative games, but are less or not at all familiar with industry-standard technology to start. Using either Bitsy or Twine, participants of the workshop will focus on finding ways to tell an interactive story centred around a memory. They will be introduced to each tool and the simplest ways to use them, and will be invited to create their own game during the workshop which they can finish or polish afterwards. Finished pieces can then be published and displayed in an itch.io collection and the GIFCon website.


Fruzsina Pittner is a designer, writer and illustrator completing her PhD at Dundee University. Her concept art and illustrations have featured in a number of game projects, and she has worked on a number of original digital comics and short stories, as well as collaborative write-ups of research projects, and delivering public-facing and industry talks and workshops. She has a passion not only for powerful storytelling aiding social change, but for accessibility: of information, tools, stories, services and people.

Publishing Your Papers: Taking Your Student Essays and Conference Papers to the Next Level 

20-25 people can participate in this workshop – sign up here.

University of Glasgow published academic Gabriel Elvery leads a workshop guiding you through the mysterious process of academic publishing – helping you to give your essays and papers the glow-up they deserve, in anticipation of finding them homes in journals or books. Gabriel is joined by the Editor in Chief of the UofG’s own student journal for fantasy, who will be available to answer questions, and tempt you to submit!  

This workshop is suitable for students who are new to academic publishing.  

Please bring an abstract of a paper you would like to receive feedback on and edit for publication.  


Gabriel Elvery is an LKAS PhD funded researcher at the University of Glasgow. They joined Glasgow to complete their Fantasy MLitt, and prior to that completed their Undergrad Degree in English and Comparative Literary Studies at The University of Warwick. Their current research project is focused on theorising applied player-reception theory for the Digital Fantastic in video games and considering the uses of this theory as a teaching tool. They are a co-organiser of the Game Studies at Glasgow reading group, Vice Editor of Press Start Journal and a member of the Games and Gaming Lab at The University of Glasgow. 

Oliver Langmead is the Editor in Chief of Mapping the Impossible: Journal for Fantasy Research. He is a doctoral candidate at the University of Glasgow, where he is researching terraforming and ecological philosophy, and in late 2018 he was the writer in residence at the European Space Agency’s Astronaut Centre in Cologne. Oliver is the author of Glitterati, published May 2022, and Birds of Paradise, out now, and his long-form poem, Dark Star, featured in the Guardian’s Best Books of 2015. 

Fantasy and Puppetry: Animating the Fantastic – Videos and Reading List

Our Fantasy and Puppetry event celebrated the art of puppets and puppeteers in bringing fantasy and the fantastic to life, on stage, on screen and on the page. If you missed it, you can watch all sessions below. You will also find here a reading list of texts mentioned during these sessions!

Fantasy and Puppetry (Film): Brian and Wendy Froud, interviewed by Terri Windling:

Bringing Fantasy Creatures to Life : William Todd-Jones, interviewed by Terri Windling:

Bringing Fantasy Creatures to Life (Theatre): Howard Gayton:

Panel on Puppets and Puppetry in Fantasy Narratives:

Reading/Viewing Recommendations

The two lists below were collated from the Zoom comments during all of the Fantasy and Puppetry sessions. Recommendations are listed in alphabetical order and are copied directly from the comments of attendees.

Puppeteers, Practitioners, and Theatre Companies  

More Text and Media Recommendations  

Changing the Voices of Science Fiction: The Progressive Fantastic in Germany

Join us on 26 May 2022 at 5pm BST (on campus and online!) for a public lecture by Dr Lars Schmeink, Leverhulme Professor of German Studies, University of Leeds, on “Changing the Voices of Science Fiction: The Progressive Fantastic in Germany”. The lecture will take place in Room 253 (Seminar Room 1 – Yudowitz), at Wolfson Medical School but will also be broadcast via Zoom webinar. Book your free tickets here.

German science fiction has traditionally been a conservative genre, its main authors to this day mostly white, cis, hetero males of middle age. Until recently, diversity of genders, non-heteronormative sexuality, race or varied ethnic and cultural backgrounds, or representations of other marginalized groups (age, (dis)ability, etc.) has been sorely missing. But there has been a concerted effort by a younger, more diverse group of writers to change the approach to fantastic literature as a whole. Under the umbrella of the “progressive fantastic”, they have called for the inclusion of other identities in speculative fiction, the strengthening of own-voices, and a keen-eyed reexamination of traditions and structures in fantastic texts. In this talk, Dr Schmeink will present the key features of this “progressive fantastic” by looking at exemplary texts of recent German SF production: Judith and Christian Vogts groundbreaking work in writing in a non-heteronormative language and presenting intersectionally diverse communities in Wasteland (2019) and Ace in Space (2020); James Sullivan’s investigation of belonging and self-positioning via Afrofuturist estrangement in Die Stadt der Symbionten (2019), Lena Richter’s subtle emphasis on (dis)abled and neurodivergent characters in her short stories “Feuer” (2020) and “3,78 Lifepoints” (2021), and Theresa Hannig’s reinvigoration of the hopeful narrative strategies of utopia as a genre in Pantopia (2022). 

Dr Lars Schmeink

Dr Lars Schmeink is currently Leverhulme Professor of German Studies at the University of Leeds, visiting from his position as Research Fellow at the Europa-Universität Flensburg, where he just applied for funding for a larger research project on science fiction as a form of science communication. Before coming to Leeds, he concluded his work as principal investigator of the federally funded „Science Fiction“ subproject for the „FutureWork“ network, an interdisciplinary research group working on the development of work and society. In 2010, he inaugurated the first German academic organization dealing with research into the fantastic, the Gesellschaft für Fantastikforschung, and served as its president for ten years. He is the author of Biopunk Dystopias (2016), and the co-editor of Cyberpunk and Visual Culture (2018), The Routledge Companion to Cyberpunk Culture (2020), Fifty Key Figures in Cyberpunk Culture (2022) and New Perspectives on Contemporary German Science Fiction (2022).