Find the full programme for GIFCon 2021 here.
Hailed as “the Iliad and Odyssey of medieval Persia”, Hamzanama or The Adventures of Amir Hamza-Lord of the Auspicious Planetary Conjunction is an ahistorical and areligious narrative built around the life and times of Hamza bin Abdul Muttalib, the uncle of Prophet Muhammad who lived in Arabia (566–625 C.E.). The first historical references to stories venerating Hamza date back to the times of the Prophet. However, through centuries of being narrated in the Indo-Persian oral storytelling genre known as dastan, history and fact have been distorted by—and perhaps subsumed into—the fantastical. Here is an uncanny world of the “strangely familiar” for the Muslim believers: a world of magic, peris, devs, jinn and talismans.
Rushdie’s characters and stories continuously cross over from the dastan tradition into his works of fiction complete with their intact histories. The reason this connection has not been studied is because Rushdie is held in “intellectual and political quarantine”1 in the geographical regions familiar with the fantasy narrative that he ‘plagiarises’ with aplomb. This paper seeks to study this space that connects Rushdie’s stories with his “Eastern literary ancestors”.
1 Warner, Marina. Stranger Magic: Charmed States & The Arabian Nights. Penguin Random House, 2011.
Hence, in her most recent narrative sequence, Seppenko Monogatari (Hanami Sonata, Gridlock Coda vol.1 and 2, Masshiro Ni), French writer Léa Silhol leaves the shores of Celtic folklore, that generally infuses her fiction, to take her readers into Japan. In doing so, she expresses her fascination for Japan and Eastern Asia both in the stories and in the discourse surrounding the books.
However her Japanese Fantasy, though particularly documented regarding Japanese traditions, society and folklore, is not free from Western clichés, namely the vision of the Japanese civilization as constantly oscillating between tradition and modernity. In her fiction, Japan becomes the epicentre of a virtual phenomenon, the rising of the Grid, a cybernetics universe in the deep Web, which some people can enter for real, while the country still counts characters who stick to the old ways of bushido and a tremendous sense of duty.
In this alternative present, the Izôkage family operates as a bridge between past and present: in each generation, its members, who are the descendants of the poet Seppen, have to face the threat of a yuki onna, a winter spirit whose love was rejected by their ancestor long ago. Connected to tradition and folklore, the Izôkages are also deeply involved in modern-day Japan, as with Fuyue, who is better known in the Grid as the mysterious hacker Neko.
This paper aims at analysing how Léa Silhol creates a Japanese Fantasy that is both documented and typical of Western views on Japan and Eastern Asia. It will examine the Seppenko Monogatari world building and its place in Léa Silhol’s fiction.
Viviane Bergue holds a PhD in Comparative Literature from the Université de Toulouse 2 (France). Her PhD research work focused on the centrality of the quest motif in Fantasy fiction. She published a revised version of her dissertation in 2015 under the title La Fantasy, mythopoétique de la quête. She is the founder and editor of the biannual journal Fantasy Art and Studies. As an independent scholar, she has published papers on Urban Fantasy, time in Fantasy fiction, and the works of Léa Silhol.
Nonetheless, contemporary fantasies seem to be straying away from this influence, using non-white, non-Western cultures as a source of inspiration for their fantasy worlds – and, perhaps more importantly, as a subtle critique to the above-mentioned tendencies. This paper would like to focus on Naomi Novik’s Spinning Silver (2019) as an example of this. Though Novik is an author of American origin, her fantasies are heavily influenced by her Lithuanian-Polish ascendency; Spinning Silver, her second standalone novel, can be considered a conscious deviation from the traditional, Western canon by expressing an implicit, yet obvious ideological stance.
Therefore, the objective of this paper is to provide an examination of the novel’s commentary on gender and religion-based discriminations, focusing on Novik’s use of Eastern European folklore and her direct inclusion of Judaism within the fantasy world of the novel. This analysis shall hopefully show how approaching fantasy from this point of view serves to create more inclusive and agential representations of otherness, as well as open new possibilities for the exploration and critique of power relations within and through the fantasy genre.
Ms. Sara González Bernárdez is an English Philology graduate at the University of Santiago de Compostela, where she is currently undertaking a PhD in English Studies. She is now set to remain at the University of Glasgow for a research stay of three months under the supervision of Dr Dimitra Fimi. Her thesis project deals with fantasy and the possibilities which it affords for the representation of marginalised identities, focusing especially on the case of women as an example. She has recently had been published on the ESSE Messenger and the Spanish journal Brumal: Research Journal on the Fantastic.
Anindita Bhattacharya is a doctoral fellow at the Department of English at Dublin City University. She is a recipient of the Ireland India Institute fellowship, 2017-2021. She is interested in children’s literature, young adult fiction, comparative literature, and post-colonial studies. Her articles have been published in various academic journals and books. She is an avid reader, a blogger, and a supporter of diversity and inclusivity in Anglophone and vernacular children’s literature.
In Buyan, everything is living: “the houses and halls … patched together from the skins of many exotic and familiar beasts” (2011: 88); “fountains spurted hot, scarlet blood into glass pools” (2011: 88). Refusing “to accept the Natural as ultimate or identical with reality” (Tabas, 2015: 4), Valente’s work enters the domain of weird fiction. Buyan echoes the natural world of human and nonhuman biology, yet subverts it by fashioning these into non-sentient objects considered testament to anthropocentric progress (i.e. architecture). In doing so, she draws attention to the false dichotomy drawn between humans and their surrounding environments, where we are surrounded by life and death on a daily basis, yet remain able to distance ourselves from it.
Employing Timothy Morton’s theory of dark ecology alongside close reading of Valente’s original text, this paper thus intends to explore Deathless through the lens of Weird fiction. Through the language of the grotesque, the Country of Life becomes not only alive, but hyper-sentient. As such, Buyan mirrors the version of living embodied by Koschei, the Tsar of Life, and reveals a deeper sense of Russian naturalistic thought.
Victoria Bovalino is a creative writing and practice-based PhD student at Royal Holloway, University of London. Her research focuses on young adult fantasy literature inspired by Russian folklore. Tori has previously edited fiction for Profane Journal, Typehouse Magazine, and The Shanghai Literary Review. She has also briefly worked with Autumn House Press (Pittsburgh), Enitharmon Press (London), and Hikari Press (London). Her creative and critical work has appeared in ANGLES Literary Magazine and The Coal Hill Review, among others.
You can use Star Wars metaphors or motifs to kind of reel people in to educate them, to let them see what’s happening, or see what happened before, say, in history, — Ryan Singer, Navajo artist.
This paper aims to briefly introduce an overview of this phenomenon taking place throughout the Star Wars franchise (1977 – onwards), and then go into greater depth with a case study of ‘Native Baby Yoda’, the most well-documented and recent example arising from the character of The Child, season one of The Mandalorian (2019). The case study will use of original and published interviews, digital ethnography and field research.
Having contextualized Native Baby Yoda, the paper will then utilize Stanley Fish et al’s Reader Response theory – in particular the concept of Interpretative Communities – to explore how Native Baby Yoda is an example of the ‘reading’ of Star Wars enabling a specific articulation of multiple elements of Indigenous identity. The paper intends to show the effectiveness of this action in showcasing not only the specific qualities of these Star Wars fan cultures, but how these fan cultures impact upon Indigenous and non-Indigenous fans of Star Wars by centering and cherishing Indigenous experiences and culture in acts of generosity, fun and pride.
Nicole Brandon is a PhD researcher in English Literature at the University of Dundee. Her PhD is titled ‘What We Dream Comes to Fruition: Diversity, Artificial Intelligence, and Science Fiction’ and explores how AI is depicted in science fiction around the world and the impact this has on the creation and reception of AI in reality. She has degrees in Anthropology (University of Durham), Scots Law and Creative Writing (Edinburgh Napier University). Her anthropology dissertation was based upon her field work with Indigenous Peoples in Western Canada. Her twitter is @puretemerity.
Chloé Germaine Buckley is a Senior Lecturer Manchester Metropolitan University and member of the Centre for Gothic Studies and the Manchester Centre for Youth Studies. She has published widely on gothic, horror and fantasy, including the monograph Twenty-First-Century Children’s Gothic (EUP, 2017). She’s an expert peer reviewer for several journals, including Fantastika. She is working on a second book titled The Dark Matter of Children’s “Fantastika” Literature: Speculative Entanglements for Bloomsbury. www.chloegermainebuckley.com | @gothlit_chloe
The author’s word, however, is not needed to see that Black Leopard Red Wolf is more than just an African adaptation of a well-known fantasy formula. It may refer to the classics in some ways – containing a quest, following the well-known fantasy publication format of a trilogy – but it does so in a unique form that does not follow any preconceived notions of what a fantasy novel should look like.
In this paper, I will analyse the novel’s narrative form and explore how the use of oral storytelling markers destabilises the very form ‘fantasy novel’ and highlights a multiplicity of voices and narrative levels that goes beyond the polysemous narrative threads that some quest fantasies display, albeit neatly separated into different chapters.
Bettina Burger completed her B.A. degree in English Studies and History at Heidelberg University in 2012. In 2013, she graduated with an MSc degree in the course “Literature and Society: Enlightenment, Romanticism and Victorian Literature” from the University of Edinburgh and her thesis focused on 19th-century children’s literature and morality. She also gained an M.A. at Bonn University in 2016, where she researched the representation of women in fantasy literature. Currently, Bettina Burger teaches Anglophone Literatures at Heinrich-Heine-University, Düsseldorf, where she is also working on a fantasy literature PhD thesis. Her research interests are varied and include postcolonial and global literature, fantasy literature and science fiction, and Scottish literature.
Astrup took as his primary subject his surroundings in Jølster – landscapes, mountains, gardens, festivals and interiors around him – simultaneously producing quasi-realist representations and fantastical or uncanny invocations of trolls, snow queens and deceased friends. His work oscillates between Mendlesohn’s modes of intrusive and immersive fantasy, juxtaposing fairy tale and Christian imagery into his present-day surroundings. His studied naiveté offers animorphic landscapes which are immersive through their use of pagan history, Christian iconography and Norse mythology and intrusive through their invocation of mysticism, ungodliness and raw hedonism.
In the process he melds pagan and Christian values in the ideological and aesthetic construction of a version of Norwegian national identity that Dag Thorkildsen identifies as based on based on national history, the Constitution, nature, the national industries (agriculture, mining, fishery, forestry) and folklore” and art critic Andrew Graham-Dixon characterises as “Hardness, sharpness, clarity … Pride tempered by a sense of living at the margins, anxiety, loneliness, melancholy […] an absolute determination to endure, come what may”.
Dr Andrew M. Butler is the author of books on Philip K. Dick, Cyberpunk, Film Studies, Postmodernism, Terry Pratchett and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. He is also the author of Solar Flares: Science Fiction in the 1970s and coeditor of The Routledge Companion to Science Fiction, among other anthologies. He is managing editor of Extrapolation and teaches media and film studies at Canterbury Christ Church University. He is the Chair of Judges for the Arthur C. Clarke Award. In his spare time he collects shiny trousers.
This paper will discuss two such works: the anime franchise Little Witch Academia (Yoh Yoshinari, 2013-17), and the manga The Ancient Magus’s Bride (Kore Yamazaki, 2014-present). In both, the protagonist is a Japanese teenager who comes to Britain in order to be inducted into magic – one as a witch at Luna Nova Academy, the other as the apprentice of non-human mage named Elias Ainsworth. Both frame Britain as a place of deep magical traditions, and both do so by drawing on British fantasy and school literature (notably Harry Potter and Enid Blyton) and folklore. Both also engage with the geography of Britain, portraying fantasy versions of specific British locations. Glastonbury – aka ‘Blytonbury’ – is the setting of Little Witch Academia; and the Cotswolds of The Ancient Magus’ Bride, although in neither case are these places named. The occidentalist gaze that Japan’s fantasists direct to Britain is enlightening both in itself and as a study to set against portrayals of the ‘exotic’ in British fantasy.
Catherine Butler is Reader in English Literature at Cardiff University. Her academic books include Four British Fantasists (Scarecrow/ChLA, 2006), Reading History in Children’s Books (with Hallie O’Donovan; Palgrave, 2012) and Literary Studies Deconstructed (2018). She has also co-edited several academic collections, including Modern Children’s Literature (with Kimberley Reynolds, 2014) and essay collections on Roald Dahl and Philip Pullman. She is also the author of six fantasy novels for children and teenagers. Catherine is Editor-in-Chief of Children’s Literature in Education.
“As related as Kahiu and Okogu’s works may be to European and American speculative fiction, however, they are clearly African texts…. They recycle many of the existing tropes and conventions of Euro-American SF and insert them into distinctly African cultural geographies”
This Omelsky’s method of reading is grounded in the postcolonial theory of ‘writing back’ in which the emergence of African SF can only be accounted for by the need ‘to fuck with’ colonial narrative to use Nalo Hopkinson (2004:9) words. In this sense, the Euro-American text is the master template in which African SF is built upon. But Africa SF has a different genealogy that goes back to African orality (Ogundele 2002, Quayson 2009, Ryman 2017) in what Nnedi Okorafor calls Organic fantasy (2009).
What I will do in this paper is to trace this genealogy of African SF and the ethics of eco-democratic socialism of ujamaa that underpins it. I will highlight how colonial institutions from the 1950s curated an African literature that suppressed this genealogy and foregrounded the current tradition of analysis in which the role of African SF is to be the alterity of the West.
Hopkinson, N (2004) So Long Been Dreaming: Postcolonial Science Fiction & Fantasy, Arsenal Pulp Press
Omelsky, M. (2014) “After the End Times”: Postcrisis African Science Fiction. Cambridge Journal of Postcolonial Literary Inquiry, 1(1), pp 33–49 Cambridge University Press
Ezeiyoke Chukwunonso is a Ph.D. candidate at Manchester Metropolitan University. His research focuses on the impact of postcolonial theory on the evolution of Africa Speculative Fiction. A collection of his short stories, Haunted Grave and Other Stories was published by Parallel Universe Publications.
How can science fantasy supply a lens through which to examine the histories and ancestral knowledge of Māori and Pasifika peoples adversely impacted by colonialism? Māori and Pasifika peoples are not currently represented in any meaningful way in the science fantasy genre. To be excluded from such a huge arena of cultural production is another form of colonial erasure. Critical and creative production of Pasifikafuturist theory and story is remedying this exclusion and erasure.
This paper discusses the development of “Pasifikafuturism”, a theoretical construct inspired by Afrofuturism and its Indigenous fictive kin, situating Māori and Pasifika science fantasy in the afterlife of colonisation. Pasifikafuturism challenges the inherent colonialism of the science fantasy genre and its norm of the white, male, heteronormative, cisgender point of view.
This paper looks to Māori and Pasifika culture, our past, our cultural practices, our Indigenous science, and specifically our ancestral navigational knowledge of wayfinding across the vast Pacific Ocean entity, as providing us with an imaginative metaphor for finding our way in the present and envisioning transformative future pathways in our writing.
Gina Cole(from Aotearoa, New Zealand) is of Fijian, Scottish, and Welsh descent. Her collection, Black Ice Matter won Best First Book of Fiction at the 2017 Ockham New Zealand Book Awards. She has a forthcoming SFF novel, Na Viro. She has participated in Auckland Writers Festival, Same Same But Different LGBTQI Writers Festival, and CoNZealand 2020. She holds an LLB(Hons), a masters in jurisprudence, and a masters in creative writing from Auckland University. She is an Honorary Fellow in Writing at Iowa University and completed a PhD in creative writing from Massey University in 2020 researching Indigenous science fantasy.
In this paper I will discuss the intersection between fantasy and musical theatre, examining the physical representation of marginalised audiences through casting choices, musical styles and the stories being told. From The Wiz, to Once on This Island, to Hadestown, musicals which attempt to create safe spaces and tell diverse stories using myth and fantasy do exist. However, they risk pandering too much to anglocentric audiences, by retelling and reappropriating stories such as The Wizard of Oz, The Little Mermaid and Greek mythology they are already familiar with, rather than risking a story which would be considered ‘new’ to a white-dominated space. I will examine and problematise these choices and consider how the progress being made can continue to push boundaries.
Dr Sarah Courtis is an early career researcher in theatre and drama at Murdoch University. Her thesis 2084: A Study of the Lyric in Musical Theatre examined contemporary musical theatre adaptations with a focus on lyric theory and audience reception. Her other academic interests include Tolkien studies, Shakespeare, mental health in academia and Learning and Teaching.
Partly using concepts from J. R. R. Tolkien’s essay, On Fairy Stories, this paper considers manifestations of the fantastic in Aeolian Earth, taking into account the national identities and geopolitical conditions that created them. By analysing the novel’s metatextual fantastic tales as fairy stories, I will examine the extent to which these Greek tales function as recovery, escape, or consolation–and for whom.
Bowers, Maggie Ann. Magic(al) Realism. New York: Routledge, 2004.
Cadbury, Alison. “Against Return: Genre and Politics in Elias Venezis’ Aeolian Earth.” A Semiannual Scholarly Review Leyed to the Greek Experience of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, vol. 27, 1992, pp. 27-39.
Madalena Daleziou (she/her) earned her BA in English Language and Literature from the University of Athens. She then studied the Fantasy Mlitt at the University of Glasgow. Her dissertation focused on wolf and human encounters in contemporary fantasy. Other research interests include children’s and YA fantasy, body politics in manga and anime, and dystopian literature. She is currently editing her neo-Victorian fantasy novel. She can most often be found in a bookshop or behind a keyboard, writing stories with too many ghosts.
E. Dawson Varughese’s research explores literary responses to post-millennial New India, in doing so her work engages with the various experiences of living in urban India and evolving ideas of ‘Indianness’. In 2016 Genre Fiction of New India: post-millennial receptions of ‘weird’ narratives was published by Routledge and in 2018 Palgrave published Visuality and Identity in post-millennial Indian graphic narratives. She is currently extending her work on Indian speculative fiction and its intersections with precarity, urban living and ideas of Indianness as a monograph for Bloomsbury.
An independent scholar, she divides her time between the UK and India. She is a Senior Fellow at Manipal Centre for Humanities, Manipal, India where she works part of the year. See her work at beyondthepostcolonial.com.
Namrata Dey Roy is a doctoral candidate of English Literature at the English department of Georgia State University, USA. Her research interest is postcolonial literature and theories, with a focus on South African Anglophone writers. She works as a teaching assistant and writing studio consultant at GSU. She completed her bachelor’s degree (English Honors) from Presidency College, Calcutta and Masters from Calcutta University, India. She completed her M.Phil from Rabindra Bharati University, Calcutta. She has presented papers at several national and international conferences (SAMLA, BCPS) and has publications online and offline.
While fantasy literature can be incredibly diverse in presenting various cultures and its indigenous species through a number of methods, the most obvious of which is defamiliarization when explained through the eyes of the narrator. This paper will explore, compare, and contrast the abovementioned narratives in which the protagonists are fixed in their Anglocentric perspective throughout their journeys, where they experience the non-Anglocentric, or must endure cultures other than their own, which they find exotic, strange or, in the worst cases, thoroughly beneath their notice. While there are many reasons to do so, two issues that will be of particular interest is hyperbole to humorous effect, and moreover, exoticization of the non-Anglocentric or marginalized culture.
Through analysis of the protagonists’ actions when they come into contact with these other cultures, a deeper understanding of the meaning and importance of representation in popular literature becomes apparent. While discourse on matters of representation for marginalized cultures has increased and diversity in fantasy literature has changed greatly over time, there is still room for improvement, but what happens when online presences actively campaign against what they refer to as ‘affirmative action’ which they claim to be distorting the genre and debasing its worth?
Atli Dungal is a 3rd year PhD student at the University of Iceland, where he also teaches courses on fantasy literature. He holds an MA in Literature, Culture and Media from Lund University and a BA in English from the University of Iceland. His current project is a comparative effort that combines unnatural narrative theory with the theory of the fantastic, applied to the representative works in the genres of high and urban fantasy. His research interests are wide and varied, but he constantly faces the daily risk of whiplash injury when someone mentions Sir Terry Pratchett or Jim Butcher.
As with most characters of his stripe, Sláine functions as a rather basic power fantasy – his only consistent goals are to defend his land, crush his enemies and sleep with every woman who catches his eye. As such, he follows the tradition of earlier ‘barbarian’ figures who’ve been used as thinly-veiled icons of nationalist furor – the lone man who, by strength alone, is able to vanquish the enemies of the people.
What makes the figure of Sláine different than other such characters is the ability to read his adventures through a postcolonial frame – here is an Irish hero, defending Ireland from not just supernatural evils but from Romans, the English, and other real-world ‘enemies’ of Ireland’s antiquity. However, that Sláine is battling against the forces of imperialism (and therefore, battling for ‘good’) is almost secondary to his love of fighting for its own sake. He vanquishes his enemies not only because it’s ‘right’ but because he can. But Sláine’s commentary goes deeper; his greatest ability is the dreaded ‘warp-spasm’ which expands and distorts his entire body into a gargantuan, nearly-invincible form that lusts for murder and is barely able to discern friend from foe (rendered grotesquely by artists such as Simon Bisley) – the ‘hero’ is strongest when he is actually the monster.
Here is the power fantasy ‘warped’ upside-down and inside-out, being sold to 2000 AD‘s primarily Anglophone audience who’ve been weaned on honorable, chivalrous heroes like King Arthur and Perseus, the ‘heroes’ who embody those traits venerated by Western Civilization. The ‘barbarian’ hero is their reflection – a loosing of the shackles of civilization and a liberation through primitivity. Sláine, then, is a reflection of a reflection. Despite being the protagonist, even creator Pat Mills would likely be hard-pressed to call the violent, lustful, power-hungry Sláine a ‘hero.’ As his adventures continue, his primal propensity for violence is exposed as horrific and freakish, his savagery explicitly made ignoble and the ‘game’ of imperialism he repeatedly finds himself caught up in is exposed for what it was (is?) – the powerful crushing the weak because they can. A postcolonial reading of Sláine interrogates a specific form of power fantasy and asks difficult questions about who we exalt as ‘heroes’ – such a figure can be hero to one people and villain to another. What binds these heroes, then, is the trail of bodies left in their wake – the literal and symbolic violence enacted along their way to becoming ‘legends.’
Dennin Ellis is a PhD Student at the Ohio State University. He received his Master’s at the State University at New York, Albany. His research interests include popular culture, narrative theory and postcolonial studies, with an emphasis on film, music and graphic narrative. His recent publications include papers on Aboriginal characters in Marvel Comics and the specter of communism in Andrei Tarkovsky’s Stalker.
French children’s fantasy fiction, though bursting with a range of rich and exciting texts from Tistou les Pouces verts (1957) and Contes de la Rue Broca (1967) to Tobie Lolness (2006-2007) and Oksa Pollock (2007-), is little appreciated besides such classics as Le petit Prince (1943), including in literary criticism. This presentation will thus explore the history of French children’s fantasy since the 1800s and draw attention to gaps in current research. Whilst hoping to decentre the Anglophone, it will also use the dominance of English-language texts as a means of understanding the unique appeal of French children’s fantasy and its marked differences from Anglophone traditions, including a discussion of major themes. It hopes to draw attention to the often forgotten ways in which French texts have inspired English fantasy writers, and will discuss the influence of major events in France, such as May 1968, upon the development of French children’s fantasy.
Rebecca Elton is a final year PhD student in modern languages at the University of Leeds. Her thesis examines portrayals of masculinity in British and French children’s fiction from the 1940s-70s in light of events such as World War Two and feminist movements that were changing perceptions of masculinity at the time. Her interests include genre, popular culture, gender and comparative study, and she fiercely loves studying other cultures and languages. During her Masters, she completed a comparative study of renowned fantasy series A Song of Ice and Fire (1996-) and French historical series Les rois maudits (1955-77).
This paper will examine the ludic mechanics which encode an Orientalist worldview onto the Monk class, continuing the critical work of scholars such as Aaron Trammel and Antero Garcia to interrogate D&D’s fictional (re)construction of a blinkered Anglocentric, Anglonormative worldview. The encyclopedic structure of D&D’s official handbooks ‘display[s] both appreciation and authority toward the Orient’ and ‘encourage[s] players to develop a similar disposition’. This reproduces real-world Orientalism, as identified by Edward Said: ‘a Western style for dominating, restructuring, and having authority over the Orient.’
Furthermore, this paper will then explore professional players’ negotiation and deconstruction of these problematic tropes in podcasts and livestreams documenting real-time D&D gameplay, using the Monk characters Beauregard Lionheart from Critical Role (played by Marisha Ray), Sofia Lee from The Unsleeping City (played by Emily Axford), and Sawyeh Noor from Venture Maidens (played by Naseem Etemad). It will ask whether culturally sensitive play and players’ compensatory imaginations can do anything to recover the Monk from its problematic Orientalist origins.
Emma French is a SGSAH-funded PhD student at the University of Glasgow, examining how Dungeons and Dragons has been used to both cement and subvert notions of fantasy. She graduated from the University of Oxford in 2015 with a First and the University of Glasgow’s MLitt Fantasy Literature programme in 2019 with Distinction. Her current player characters include a sorcerer trying her best in Barovia, and a dark academia wizard who uses the prestidigitation cantrip as self-care. She can be found on Twitter at @howlsmovinglib.
Martine Gjermundsen Ræstad is a recent graduate of the MLitt in Fantasy at the University of Glasgow. She has a BA in English Language & Linguistics from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, which included engaging in courses on Translation and Sociolinguistics. With a life-long interest in science fiction, fantasy and history, she has always balanced her own nation’s culture with that of the anglophone world and has taught academic writing in both traditions side-by-side at her previous university, and is particularly interested in the ways that traditions merge and interact with each other.
This paper will start by briefly exploring the western understanding of the frontier as liminal space, to accomplish this it will look into the 2016 film The Embrace of the Serpent, lauded by its approach to the indigenous beliefs of the communities living in the Colombian and Peruvian Amazon, and noting how the archetypical western frontier manifests itself throughout the story. It will be argued then, that the film fails to both understand the Amazon on its own terms and give voice to the cosmology of the indigenous groups, by relaying heavily in these western archetypes and turning the spiritual journey at its core into just another version of western concerns.
In contrast, the Netflix series Green Frontier (2019), another story set deep in the Amazon forest, through a murder mystery and considerable doses of magic realism allows for the Amazon to show itself and the uniqueness of its social complexities while transgressing and mutating the afore mentioned archetypes and creating a space for diverse ways of understanding the world to play side by side and in the end interact with one another.
Finally, it will be acknowledged that even though a notable contrast is evident in both stories there is much space to grow and for indigenous people to find and explore the opportunities given by fantasy and magic realism.
Leidy Laura Gonzalez Bojaca (she/her) is a PhD student at the University of Aberdeen working on Ogham and Pictish Symbol inscribed Stones in Early Medieval Scotland and Ireland with the support of the Leverhulme Trust. She holds a BA in Anthropology from the National University of Colombia with a dissertation on contemporary fantasy, analysing the worlds of Game of Thrones (HBO) and A Song of Ice and Fire. Her main interests surround the areas of religion, mythology and fantasy studies; as well as an ever present inquiry into Western understanding of its own past.
The novel blends two worlds, one real and one a dream, until the line between them becomes untenable. The narrator of the ’real’ sections finds himself at the center of a conspiracy involving experimental brain surgery. He is the only subject to survive the process and now must find a way to prevent his own death. This process involves the manipulation of his ‘core consciousness’ and the conflict between his own identity and the manipulated ‘story’ the Professor has placed in the narrator’s mind. This conflict is played out symbolically in the ‘dream’ sections of the novel.
Through an analysis of the symbolism used throughout the novel, I will show how Murakami makes a subtle criticism of exclusive reading of fantasy. Ultimately, the novel highlights the influence that all media can have on the creation of our identities when consumed without thought, and particularly when we focus too closely on a specifically anglophone view of the canon.
Elliott Greene is a first year PhD student at the University of Edinburgh. He focuses on modern reinterpretations of classic fantasy tropes with particular emphasis on contemporary epic fantasy.
Dr Lizanne Henderson is Senior Lecturer in History, Tourism and Animal Studies (School of Interdisciplinary Studies, University of Glasgow). She works primarily on supernatural belief traditions, the witch-hunts, Scottish emigration and exploration, Arctic Studies, wildlife tourism, and human-animal studies. Her most recent monograph is Witchcraft and Folk Belief in the Age of Enlightenment: Scotland, 1670-1740 (2016), is currently preparing her next book (Super)natural Animals in the Age of the Stewarts (forthcoming), and working on a multi-disciplinary project called Picturing Polar Bears: Past and Present Semiotic and Iconic Perceptions of Ursus maritimus.
Lars Johnson is a PhD student at Cornell University. He received an MLitt in fantasy at the University of Glasgow and completed his BS in biology and English literature at the University of Michigan. Lars’s previous research has explored queerness, spirituality, and neomedievalism in A Song of Ice and Fire. His current scholarship focuses on the threads of gender and sexuality that link medieval epics and epic fantasies.
In the 20th and 21st centuries, we can trace attempts to diversify, decolonise, and feminise myths in literary adaptations, research, and pedagogy. My PhD is focussed on contemporary feminist adaptations of Greek myths, particularly considering how female authors use ancient myths to engage with modern feminist discourses. Margaret Atwood, Jeanette Winterson, and Madeline Miller must surely lay flowers at the graves of women authors who came before: Adrienne Rich, H.D., and Sylvia Plath, for instance.
This paper will trace the traditions of mythic adaptation from white men to its current problem of white feminism.1 One example of such prevalent privilege is in Atwood’s The Penelopiad, in which Penelope’s class privilege somewhat detracts from her intended characterisation as pitiable. Yet, there is a marked movement towards intersectionality in feminist adaptations of myths, evident in Kamila Shamsie’s Home Fire, an Islamisation of Oedipus, and Ali Smith’s Boy Meets Girl, a queer Scots retelling of Iphis and Ianthe.
Shelby Judge is a second year English Literature PhD student at the University of Glasgow. Her thesis topic is “Exploring contemporary women writers’ adaptation of myth for feminist purposes”. In this thesis, Shelby is researching what impact contemporary adaptations of Greek myth can have upon the feminist movement. Shelby’s overarching research interests are in feminist and queer theory and contemporary British and American women’s fiction. Shelby also runs a PhD-related blog: TheShelbiad.blogspot.com
Star Wars is a huge – and hugely popular – agglomeration of films, books, comics and TV shows, depicting a large variety of fantastical cultures. However, it is left to the fans to draw parallels to real world cultures that go beyond the vision of the predominantly white and US American creators of the source content.
In this paper I will focus on the fan-coding of characters such as Poe Dameron, Cassian Andor and Bail Organa as belonging to Latin American culture and the extension of this concept to entire planets in the Star Wars universe, including Alderaan and Yavin IV. Fan creations range from picking up on small hints within the canon and extending the concept further, to making up completely new aspects of world-building to better represent their chosen field of diversity. Drawing on current research into the ‘fandom phenomenon’, I will discuss the methods with which fans perpetuate such alterations to the canon – fanfiction, discussions on social media, fanart, etc. – and examine the positive impact fan-driven diversity can have on the representation of minorities and other languages in the ‘white English’ playing field of the source material. Lastly, I will argue for the importance of fandom-driven diversity in inspiring a new generation of content creators and pushing the establishment towards acceptance of a broader range of voices.
Bettina Juszak studied Linguistics at the University of Cambridge and finished a Masters in Fantasy Literature at the University of Glasgow in 2017. Her research included such topics as accent usage in science fiction films and the intersection between music and magic in fantasy texts. She presented a paper on Terry Pratchett’s use of fantasy world-building to tell stories socially-relevant at Gifcon in 2018. Originally from Germany, Bettina is currently working in Harrogate and biding her time in order to return to university for a PhD.
Aroosa Kanwal is Assistant Professor in English Studies at the International Islamic University. She is the author of The Routledge Companion to Pakistani Anglophone Writing (Routledge, 2019) and Rethinking Identities in Contemporary Pakistani Fiction: Beyond 9/11 (Basingstoke: Palgrave, 2015). Her monograph received the KLF-Coca-Cola award for the best non-fiction book of the year 2015.
Her articles and book chapters have appeared in Journal of Gender Studies, The Journal of Commonwealth Literature, Journal of International Women’s Studies, and Journal of Consciousness, Literature and the Arts, and in edited collections Imagining Muslims in South Asia and the Diaspora (Routledge, 2014), Consciousness, Theatre and Literature and the Arts (Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2012).
In this paper, I consider the work of contemporary Muslim authors such as S. A. Chakraborty, Ausma Zehanat Khan, and Zeynab Joukhadar whose vivid imagery and writing open a gate to Islamic mythology and Middle Eastern folklore and invites for an exciting exploration into the sinister and mystical world of the Jinn, complex politics, and supernatural cities. I begin by outlining a brief history of Islamic literature, focusing particularly and specifically on tales of the supernatural that exhibit elements and concepts of the Gothic, notably concepts of Otherness and the uncanny. I then explore how contemporary Muslim authors draw on a rich Islamic literary tradition to create tales reminiscent of Scheherazade’s tales of wonder in The One Thousand and One Nights.
Meriem Rayen Lamara is a PhD candidate at The University of Northampton. Her PhD thesis looks at the supernatural Gothic in Young Adult literature. Her adjacent research interests lie in comparative literature, transnational Gothic, children’s literature, dark fantasy, supernatural folklore and fairy tales.
Based on the series by Polish Fantasy author, Andrzej Sapkowski, The Witcher follows the story of a brooding monster hunter caught in the web of destiny as he strives to protect his young ward and the world around him descends into a war of the races. Interestingly, the race war portrayed in the novels has nothing to do with skin colour and all to do with species (elves, dwarves, humans). Yet the response from many white viewers are as intense as a battlefield in the world of The Witcher.
This paper seeks to explore the source of rejection of black and brown casted actors by white viewers in adaptations of eurocentric Fantasy. I will investigate why major characters of colour are met with resistance when inconsequential characters such as the servants Missandei or Grey Worm from Game of Thrones are not. Is it truly a matter of authenticity or disdain for having to include people that traditional Fantasy never made room for?
Sammarko Lightbourne received his BA in English Studies at The College of The Bahamas in 2014. He worked as a communications associate, a concierge, and now finds himself in the world of radio. He is a lover of the Bahamian oral tradition and is a thalassophile. He is currently completing the final year of his MFA in Creative Writing at The University of the West Indies, St Augustine Campus, where his novel focuses on memories as commodities in a futuristic Caribbean resettled by the descendants of climate change refugees. You can reach him on Instagram at @sammarkothescribe.
First the strategy of Olivér Csepella’s 2017 comic book entitled The West + Zombies (in which West references a prominent literary journal in Hungary between 1908 and 1941) is shown to attack the enforced Hungarian attitude towards the canonical literary heritage. The comic book, which came to being thanks to community fundraising, familiarizes parts of the canonical and completes it not only with the fantastic but also with the noncanonical but historical, demonstrating the nature of a long debate about Hungary’s educational system and presenting the paradoxical relation between contemporary Hungarian society and its devouring past that manifests as a zombie horde in the narrative.
In contrast to this example, vampires appear in narratives where the historical past is less connected to Hungarian pride. These works have a strategy of coming to terms with national traumas by creating alternatives to historical accuracy. Such a strategy may be seen in a 2019 Hungarian comedy, Comerade Draculich, in which monsterizing the monstrous past paradoxically aims at coming with the traumatic past by turning it into comedy and making it “consumable” by introducing the monster that consumes. In both narratives the monster reveals Hungarian’s paradoxical attitude to their national past and thus familiarizes and stabilizes what is about to be lost to the national collective by means of otherizing it.
Ildikó Limpár, Senior Lecturer of English, Pázmány Péter Catholic University, Budapest, holds a Ph.D. in English and an MA in Egyptology and works in the field of Monster Studies. Her monograph entitled The Truths of Monsters: Coming of Age with Fantastic Media was published by McFarland this spring (2021) and focuses on the use of monsters as literary tools addressing life challenges in coming-of-age fantasy and science fiction. She edited an anthology of essays entitled Displacing the Anxieties of Our World: Spaces of the Imagination (published by Cambridge Scholars Publishing in 2017) and an anthology of essays in Monster Studies written in Hungarian (published by Athenaeum in 2021).
In line with the famous dichotomy between Urras and Anarres in Le Guin’s The Dispossessed, Hao Jingfang has also set up two opposing worlds, that is a) the libertarian Earth following the neoliberal rules in favour of market competitions and individualistic pursuit for capital and b) the egalitarian Martian Republic built upon scarcity and under the supervision of a central archive system. In the latter society, the Martians are grouped in numerous “ateliers” (the realistic reflection of the “work units” or “danwei” in China). They are the main provider of social welfare and protection, which, therefore, form the basics of social stability.
However, neither of the two societies are “perfect” enough to be called a true utopia and among each of them, they are internal challenges proposed by people who seek for reforms. These people would view the other world as the negation to their own, yet again only to find themselves trapped in an unending cycle of “negating to negation”. I would argue that it is the ambiguity identified in such a cycle that represents China’s post-socialist quest for the new order since the 1990s.
LYU Guangzhao (He/Him) is currently a PhD student in Comparative Literature at University College London (UCL). His research project is a comparative study of the British SF Boom and the Chinese SF New Wave, focusing on the relation between the two SF movements and the broader socio-cultural transformations in the post-Thatcher Britain and the post-socialist China. He is the co-founder of London Chinese SF Group (LCSFG), co-director of London SF Research Community (LSFRC), and was recently awarded the “Support a New Scholar” grant (2021-2022) by Science Fiction Research Association (SFRA). His latest essay was published on SFRC Review in September 2020.
In this paper, the concepts of ‘Self’ and ‘the Other’ will be given firstly, while some examples from the Western and Eastern texts will be shown as supports for further detailed analysis.
‘Self’ only refers to the author’s own cultural position which he or she is familiar with, while ‘the Other’ refers to every strange thing outside the author’s ‘Self’. In this paper, the main reason caused the differences between Eastern and Western dystopian YA literature would be considered as the difference of the author’s start point of imagination on ‘Self’ or ‘the Other’. For example, in most Chinese dystopian YA literature, from the narrative structures to the design of characters and world, it is possible to see traces of influences from Western literature. However, the authors’ imaginations are mostly inspired by the present circumstances in which they are living, and the issues with which they are concerned. In contrast, Western and Japanese writers’ imaginations about highly-censored dystopian societies are mostly based on the gaze to ‘the other’ and history. This difference of start point leads to the differences of the designs of characters, social background, solutions to social problems shown in those Western and Eastern stories. Particularly, it probably can explain some paradoxical points appeared on the designs of characters in the Western dystopian YA literature.
Lan Ma is a PhD student at the School of Education in the University of Glasgow. Her research focuses on the representation of discourse and power in Japanese, Chinese and English dystopian YA literature. She received a BA in Sociology from the University of Fudan in China, and a MA in Children’s Literature and Literacies from the University of Glasgow. Before coming to the UK, she worked as an editor of children’s and YA literature for several years in China.
Indian mythology is representative of the world history but, as a result of massive Anglo-centric productions in all forms of media, it has witnessed a decrease in its study over the years, leaving today’s generations with a blind spot in the knowledge of their history. This gap not only subdues the relevance and representation of our culture, but also negates any chances of allowing it to be taught or made aware of. Therefore, I intend to present, how, the Indian usage of fantasy, not only tries to keep its history alive, but also educates us to not turn a blind eye to the problems in our society.
Raman Malik is a PhD student at the University of Sheffield, working on ‘Subdued and Misrepresented Child Voices in British Fantasy Literature from 18th century to 20th century.’ He completed his M.Phil. English with first division from Amity University in 2018, with a dissertation on -‘The Representation of Magical Realism in C.S. Lewis’ The Chronicles of Narnia.’ His interests lie in studying all forms of fantasy literature that includes fairy tales, science fiction, mystery and supernatural fantasy. His hobbies include reading, and playing football. He recently finished reading Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials, and has begun Necronomicon by H.P. Lovecraft.
In his fantasy trilogy set in the fictional Gameworld, Samit Basu Indianizes the Western epic fantasy structure to question this very notion of superiority. In doing so, he also dismantles the very myth of the hero as indigenous stories are subverted within the frame of the subverted anglocentric fantasy narrative. In a world where heroes are constructed by politicians and history constantly re-interpreted to undermine reader expectations, Basu blurs the lines between good and bad, monsters and heroes, thereby challenging what Hourihan calls “the fundamental dualisms that have shaped Western thought and values.” This paper examines how Basu redefines not only the discourse of Western superiority but also the Brahmanical hegemony within the Indian narrative to dismantle ingrained cultural dualisms and cast new light on the hero tale.
Basu, Samit. The Manticore’s Secret. Penguin: New Delhi, 2005.
—. The Simoqin Prophecies. Penguin: New Delhi, 2004.
—. The Unwaba Revelations. Penguin: New Delhi, 2007.
Campbell, Joseph. The Hero with a Thousand Faces. Bollingen Series XVII. Third Edition. Mumbai: YogiImpressions, 2008.
Hourihan, Margery. Deconstructing the Hero: Literary Theory and Children’s Literature. London: Routledge, 1997.
Ruchira Mandal is an Assistant Professor in the Department of English, Lady Brabourne College, Kolkata. She has recently submitted her doctoral thesis on Mervyn Peake’s Titus Groan novels at Jadavpur University, Kolkata. Her research interests include fantasy, fairytales and popular culture. She is also a poet and has been published in the anthology, A Letter, A Poem, A Home alongside Rudy Francisco and Sarah Kay among others. She did her M.Phil from Jadavpur University and masters from the University of Calcutta.
This paper will analyse two recent fantasy blockbusters from China: Chronicles of the Ghostly Tribe (2015) and Mojin: The Lost Legend (2015), both based on the influential internet novel Ghost Blows Out the Light (2006). These films, like all of China’s state-sanctioned media, conform to requirements that they are in some way “educational” or “culturally or politically uplifting” and include revealing depictions of nationalist sentiment.
Chronicles of the Ghostly Tribe, set in 1979, combines overt fantasy elements (the discovery of magical creatures and ancient artifacts) with a realistic depiction of the People’s Liberation Army, and features a sometimes-subversive streak of black humour. Mojin: The Lost Legend, meanwhile, performed even better at the domestic box-office (becoming the highest-earning Chinese IMAX film of all time on its release), and deploys fantasy elements is the service of not just visual spectacle, but also to comment patriotically on the apparent virtues of life in China. The themes of the film center on the contrasts between the rational world and the magical world; between history and modernity; and between China and the USA. This paper therefore offers analysis of these two films in order to explore the increasingly prominent ways Chinese filmmakers use fantasy to express problematic ideas about national history and political ideology.
Dr. Daniel Martin is Associate Professor of Film Studies in the School of Humanities and Social Sciences at the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST). His recent research concerns fantasy traditions in films from South Korea, Japan, and Hong Kong. He is the author of Extreme Asia: The Rise of Cult Cinema from the Far East (Edinburgh University Press, 2015), co-editor of Korean Horror Cinema (EUP, 2013) and Hong Kong Horror Cinema (EUP, 2018), and has published articles in Cinema Journal, Journal of Film and Video, Journal of Popular Culture, Continuum, Asian Cinema, and Journal of Korean Studies.
In this sense, it is equally strange – almost an anomaly – that Hispanic video games include among their games a fantasy genre typical of their tradition or native mythology. What is usual are games that become accustomed to a historical event or to a literary tradition, which are less risky in contrast to peninsular folklore. Nevertheless, two platforms recently published by Spanish developers, Cursed Castilla EX (Locomalito, Abylight, 2016) and Blasphemous (Team17, 2019) have come to break this rule: their creations are full of symbols, narratives and settings that are nurtured from the traditional fantasy of the Spanish Medieval and Baroque periods. In addition, they are full of references to books of chivalry (Amadís de Gaula), medieval and baroque architecture (the Palacio de los Águila, the Mosque-Cathedral from Córdoba), or the religious imagery present in the paintings of Goya, Zurbarán or Ribera.
The main objectives of this text are to explain the approaches of these video games and in particular the findings and crosschecking between the mythological, historical and religious manifestations of Hispanic culture and these platforms.
Mario-Paul Martínez is a researcher, professor and coordinator of the Aesthetics and Art Theory Area of the Art Department at Miguel Hernández University. He is also coordinator of the Area of Historical, Artistic and Scientific Assets at the same University and is director of the Massiva Research Group that studies the interrelationship between audiovisual arts and mass culture. He teaches in the MUPIA master’s degree and the MUECA master’s degree in Cultural Studies and Visual Arts at the School of Fine Arts in Altea.
Fran Mateu is a researcher and professor in the area of Aesthetics and Art Theory at the Art Department of Miguel Hernández University. Since his beginnings in teaching, he has taught subjects such as Theory and Technique of Editing and Montage, or Video Games and Virtual Environments. Previously, he graduated in Advertising and Public Relations, and obtained a degree in Cinematography, specializing in Film Direction. He is the co-director of the International Congress of Fantastic Genre, Audiovisuals and New Technologies, With Mario-Paul Martínez.
Contemporary Serbian children’s writers are exploring new possibilities of merging foreign and domestic literary traditions. On the one hand, they are mostly influenced by Anglophone works, but on the other they are integrating Serbian folklore motifs in attempt to create Slavic-mythology based type of fantasy. When folklore heritage reappears, it can take on a comical function in a contemporary urban context, as presented in Ivana Nešić’s Zelenbabini darovi (Greenmother’s Gifts, 2013) and Tajna nemuštog jezika (The Secret of the Animal Language, 2014), or horror function as in Uroš Petrović‘s Peti leptir (Fifth Butterfly, 2005) and Deca Bestragije (Children of Bestragija, 2013). Sometimes the authors even use modern Serbian poetry and its vegetative motifs as an inspiration for their own work (Selina Lovren in Malo zeleno drvo [Little Green Tree] 2019).
The unusual positioning of these novels in the frameworks of both Serbian and Anglophone tradition of the children’s fantasy novel is explored: the paper offers an overview and analysis of the fantasy element’s function in children’s novels, its influence on the novel’s structure as well as its heterogeneous origins.
Ivana Mijić Nemet is a PhD candidate at the Faculty of Philosophy in Novi Sad, Department for Serbian Literature. Since 2012 she is administrator of the journal for children’s literature, Detinjstvo, and since 2013 employed at the Preschool Teacher Training College in Novi Sad. Her main research interest is children’s fantasy literature, and her current research examines the poetic characteristics of the children’s fantasy novel in Serbian literature of the early 21st century.
The were-fox (Chinese 狐狸精, húli jīng; Korean 구미호, kumiho/gumiho; Japanese 狐, kitsune) is just such a character. Initially conceived of as a supernatural creature able to transform into a desirable woman in order to trick men or drain them of their life energy, the were-fox has been widely disseminated in both European and Asian writing. The traits that make the were-fox ‘sexy’ are dependent on the context within which the character is adopted. It is these traits that will be examined by this paper. To provide a broad, though not exhaustive overview, the paper will focus on four works of fiction, each from a different cultural context:
– the South Korean drama My Girlfriend is a Gumiho (2010)
– the Japanese manga Nura: Rise of the Yokia Clan (2008 – 2012)
– the US-produced web-television anthology of animated shorts LOVE DEATH + ROBOTS (2019), specifically episode 8 Good Hunting
– the novel The Sacred Book of the Werewolf (2004) by Russian author Victor Pelevin.
All four narratives reached an international audience, but were not necessarily written with an international consumer in mind. Thus, their portrayals of a character who is defined by sexuality vary significantly and provide a valuable insight into what sexual appeal in literature can look like beyond the Euro-centric femme fatale.
Miss Anna Milon is a PhD student at the University of Exeter working on the Horned God as environmental symbol in British fantasy. She has a long-standing interest in folklore and the folkloresque, and speaks Russian fluently. With a background in English and Medieval Literature from Royal Holloway, UoL, and the University of York respectively, Anna teaches in Liberal Arts concurrently with her studies. In her spare time, Anna helps out at the Museum of Witchcraft and Magic (sadly, not as the resident witch).
It’s called Ma. Emptiness. It’s there intentionally. [He claps his hands] The time in between my clapping is ma. If you just have non-stop action with no breathing space at all, it’s just busyness. But if you take a moment, then the tension building in the film can grow into a wider dimension. (Ebert 2002)
My paper aims to look at ‘Ma’ as a ‘breathing space’ and how it functions in creating a ‘wider dimension’ in the Fantastic world-building of Miyazaki’s films. Moreover, I aim to show how this is specific to Japanese animation. While the Anglocentric animation depends on narrative-driven actions, Miyazaki’s finds as much value in extra ‘gratuitous’ movements that characters are shown doing which emulates a tactility that truly brings his worlds to life. This is reflected in everything from character movements to music, framing, dialogue and scenery. I aim to show how these moments of ‘Ma’ that break from narrative-forming actions allow the viewers to buy into the world that Miyazaki builds, creating an immersive kind of realism specific to his Fantasy.
Sandra Mondejar Revis is a recent graduate of the Masters in Fantasy Literature at the University of Glasgow. Although the Fantastic has always remained her primary passion, she enjoys finding ways to apply it to her other interests. Sandra has a Joint Honours degree in Philosophy and English, and so is keen to point out the philosophic angles that Fantasy takes. Coming from a mixed cultural background herself, she is curious about the ways in which this shapes other Fantasies and Philosophies.
Debaditya Mukhopadhyay is an Assistant Professor of English at Manikchak College, affiliated with the University of Gourbanga, India. His research articles have been published in peer-reviewed journals like Muse India, DUJES, etc. He has contributed chapters to collections published by Salem Press, McFarland, and Lexington Books. He also has forthcoming chapters in edited collections from Lehigh University Press and Peter Lang. He has presented his papers at Presidency University, Banaras Hindu University, etc. and has been invited to speak at the Symposium: Sholay at 45 (event postponed due to the Pandemic) organized by School of Media, B.C.U. (UK)
Dipanwita Paul is a Queer Feminist-Activist, and a student of Jadavpur University, Department of English. She is a member of Women Against Sexual Harassment, and Das Theke Das Hajar, both forums combating sexual harassment in workplace, and has been an active participant in the Feminist, Queer Rights, Caste-Based, and anti-CAA, NPR, NRC movements.
Primrose (full name) graduated from National University of Singapore in 2016 with a degree in English Literature and is currently pursuing her Master’s in the National University of Singapore. Her research interests are in the area of contemporary Chinese literature, cultural theory, postcolonial theory, and world literature. Her Master’s research project revolves around the study of contemporary Chinese novels to examine the aesthetic representation of China’s uneven and unequal modernity, and the compound of ecological abuse and social injustices in the context of Post-socialist China, as focalised through the abject dispossession endured by the rural subaltern.
One reason that could explain the predominance of those four core genres to the detriment of Fantasy is the thought that this literature cannot offer significant insights about Latin America’s current struggles, as the other types of non-mimetic fiction do. Fantasy literature, in the Latin American context, is often understood as a mere commercial and derivative genre, a shallow replica of the First World best-selling book model.
Against this, I sustain that present Latin American Fantasy exists as a non-homogenic and on-growing corpus that has already offered interesting works, worth inscribing in the long history of Fantasy as a literary form. To demonstrate a grasp of its richness, in this paper I will propose three possible aesthetic paths of this literature, that will show different and complex ways to engage with Latin America’s ethos trough literary imagination: Latin Americanism (in dialogue with indigenous traditions), Medievalism (in dialogue with European traditions), and expanded realism (in dialogue with Latin America sociopolitical problems). I will illustrate the way in which these paths express themselves through the analysis of three novels: Los días del venado (2000), by Argentinian author Liliana Bodoc; El fuego verde (2016), by Mexican author Verónica Murguía; and El tren marino (2015), by Chilean author Daniel Villalobos.
Bodoc, Liliana. Los días del Venado. La Saga de los Confines I. Norma, 2000.
Murguía, Verónica. El fuego verde. Ediciones SM, 2016.
Villalobos, Daniel. El tren marino. Laurel Editores, 2015.
Paula Rivera Donoso (Viña del Mar, Chile, 1987 / She, her). Master in Literature from Universidad de Chile. She also holds a diploma in Children’s and Young Adult Literature from Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile. She is a Chilean author and independent researcher. She is currently interested in Hispano-American Fantasy works and their phylogenetical relationship with English-speaking canonical Fantasy. She is the co-founder of Vagalumbre (https://vagalumbre.com), a Spanish-written website dedicated to Fantasy literature.
This paper examines how Pakistani fantasy adds to the “syncretic” element by imagining worlds that connect religious beliefs and scientific possibilities in order to bridge the traditional and modern. As a case in point, Boy of Fire and Earth by Sami Shah has Djinns as characters, creatures that Muslims unquestioningly accept as occupants of a parallel dimension to humans. Shah thus creates a fantastical story with Djinns that is “impossible” but real because it is based in Quranic testimony; and “improbable” but true because a sci-fi universe of simultaneous alternative realities is supported by quantum physics research. I argue that if one of the constructive roles of speculative fiction is foresighting, then the influence of the present Us vs Them bias that informs our vision of humanity’s future must be dismantled. Recognition of alternative speculations from non-Western literary sources can potentially bridge the divide.
Attebery, Brian. “The Postcolonial Fantastic”. Stories About Stories: Fantasy and the Remaking of Myth, Oxford University Press, 2014, 169-185
Bechtel, Gregory. The Word for World Is Story: Towards a Cognitive Theory of (Canadian) Syncretic Fantasy. ProQuest Dissertations Publishing, 1 Jan. 2011.
Shazia Sadaf (she/her) is an Instructor of Human Rights and Social Justice in the Institute of Interdisciplinary Studies at Carleton University, Ottawa, Canada. She holds a doctorate in Postcolonial Literature from Western University, Canada, as well as a previous PhD in English from the University of London and an MA in English Literature & Language from King’s College London, UK. Her articles have been published in Interventions: International Journal of Postcolonial Studies, Journal of Postcolonial Writing, South Asian History and Culture, ARIEL: A Review of International English Literature, and the European Journal of English Studies. She has also contributed chapters to the Routledge Companion to Pakistani Anglophone Literature (2018) and Violence in South Asia (Routledge 2019). Shazia is currently working on the manuscript of her book on human rights and Pakistani speculative fiction.
In this 20-minute paper, I will break Jackson’s theory down into its component parts, apply them to Bulgakov’s novel, and highlight the main areas of coherence and discrepancy between them. I will also place the novel within its historical and social context in order to explain the reasons for these discrepancies, mainly in regard to their approach to the Marvellous, or the genuinely supernatural.
Bio: Judith Schofield(she/her) is a postgraduate student on the Fantasy Mlitt program within the University of Glasgow. Her undergraduate degree is in English Literature with Creative Writing from the University of Birmingham. Her primary research areas are the Weird, Queerness within genre fiction, and genre intersections between Fantasy, Science Fiction and Horror. She is currently working on a queer fantasy/horror novel and several short stories and poems. She is a Nighting-Owl, a hybrid of the Owl and Nightingale Fantasy Mlitt cohorts.
Fans draw on their diverse personal, social, cultural, political, and ideological contexts to interpret and respond to the texts they read. Marginalised fans, whose lives are missing or stereotyped in popular culture, use fan podcasts to offer complex and nuanced perspectives. These spaces offer opportunities for intersectional conversations where fans use their favourite characters and worlds to navigate experiences which matter to them. Such conversations can raise awareness about issues which are otherwise erased in mainstream discourse.
Fan podcasts act as alternative media that allows marginalised cultures to present their own counternarratives which question taken-for-granted assumptions about them. Fans use these podcasts to challenge dominant representations and raise critical questions and reflections. Fan critiques about social justice issues function as consciousness-raising tools, allowing other fans to develop more nuanced interpretations of their favourite texts.
While mainstream fantasy media often reflects dominant perspectives, fan podcasts offer room for multiple and diverse lived experiences. Fans use the fictional framework to explore complex topics, wrestle with real-life limitations, explore real-world social, cultural and political issues, and voice their concerns and fears. This exposure to diverse perspectives and unfamiliar cultures they may not have otherwise encountered can allow fans from both marginalised and dominant cultures to think critically about the media they consume. It also has the potential to encourage reflection on the lives of others and promote understanding, respect and empathy for diverse experiences.
Parinita Shetty has worked with young people and children’s books in India in various ways – as an author, a bookseller in a children’s bookshop, a reading programme developer, and a coordinator of a children’s literature festival. She completed her M.Ed in Children’s Literature and Literacies from the University of Glasgow in 2017. She is currently a second year PhD candidate at the University of Leeds. Her research interests include children’s literature, digital media, online fan communities, critical literacy, and intersectionality. She studies fan communities and identifies as a RavenPuff. She should currently be writing but is probably watching Avatar: The Last Airbender.
The paper examines the specific example of the story ‘Final de una lucha’ by Mexican author Amparo Dávila. Dávila’s work has often been classified as belonging to the fantastic, a categorisation that is due in large part to the ambiguity that permeates most of her stories. ‘Final de una lucha’ is no exception. Dávila employs a narrative voice that at first appears to give an unbiased account of events; however, over the course of the story the reader comes to doubt the ‘objectivity’ of this narrator, and indeed to question whether objective narration is even possible. Dávila plays with the inescapably subjective nature of the narrator as both perceiver and reporter of that which is perceived. The result is the co-existence of multiple interpretations of the text, none of which can be easily disregarded.
The ambiguity surrounding the narrative voice in this story lends the text a polysemy that is reflective of definitions of the fantastic given by theorists such as Alazraki and Jackson, who cite multiplicity of interpretation as being essential to this genre or mode. Thus, narrative ambiguity is seen to be intrinsically linked with the fantastic, the transgressive nature of which creates an environment in which the very concept of objective reality is called into question.
Sarah Simpson recently completed a Masters by Research in Hispanic Studies at the University of Edinburgh and holds a BA in Spanish from the University of Oxford. Her Masters research centres around the short story in Latin America, particularly women authors whose work falls within the fantastic and related genres. She is also interested in gender and sexuality studies. In October 2021 she will begin a PhD at the University of Nottingham examining the constructed categorisation of so-called ‘lesbian literature’.
Dr Duncan Sneddon holds a PhD in Scottish History from the University of Edinburgh (2018) and taught in the Gaelic department at the University of Aberdeen from 2018 – 2019. He is currently teaching Gaelic at Sabhal Mòr Ostaig. He has published on different aspects of Gaelic folklore, literature and medieval ecclesiastical culture.
Cradled between the Atlantic Ocean and North Sea, it is unsurprising that the sea features heavily in Orkney’s folk heritage. Tales of the selkie seal folk have links to the merfolk of various cultures. The Fin people, with their home under the ocean in Finfolkaheem, share similarities with the huldrefolk of Norwegian mythology and the Pictish Feins. Tangies,shape-shifting water spirits in the Scottish Highlands, become demonic sea horses in Orcadian myths and the nuggle or noggelvi has Nordic roots, but is similar to the Pictish kelpie. In the depth of the ocean lurk the Nuckelavee, a uniquely Orcadian monster, and the Taren, who is responsible for winter storms. The Mither of the Sea guards humans and her subjugation of the Taren regulates the seasons.
This article considers how Norse and Pictish influences combined to give a distinct Orcadian folklore tradition. These stories were gathered and preserved by the Victorian folklore enthusiast Walter Traill Dennison, who set them down in the Scottish Antiquary Journal. The article asks whether his romanticising of the tales removed their true purpose, of serving as cautionary tales and explanations for natural phenomena passed through generations. It also looks at the role these mythologies have in establishing a dual Celtic and Nordic identity in modern Orkney.
Bio: I am a fantasy writer living in Orkney, where I developed a curiosity for the rich folklore. I am particularly interested in stories concerning animals and the sea. I mainly write fiction and have an anthology of fantasy stories coming out next year, but I have written non-fiction pieces, including an article for my professional magazine when I was a veterinary surgeon, short filler pieces for a Scottish magazine and I have had a paper published in the Luna Press Publishing volume ‘A Shadow Within’ (2019). I have submitted a paper for their next volume to be published in 2020.
On one side of this cultural shock, we have the beliefs of a pre-existing native culture and on the other the fantastic vocabulary and the values exported by a catholic Europe of the fifteenth century. The contrast between these two cultures resulted in the upcoming of the “New World” as an historical reality, in which fantasy represents one of the main sources of its identity development.
During his Nobel Prize acceptance speech, Gabriel García Márquez referred that a chronicle written by Antonio Pigafetta, who was a Florentine navigator upon his passage through American southern lands on the fifteenth Century “contained the seeds of our present-day novels, is by no means the most staggering account of our reality in that age.”
In this presentation, I intend to confirm the role and importance of fantastic narratives in the evolution of the Latin-American space’s collective memory. With this in mind, I will use places’ descriptions in Magical Realism Literature as a tool to analyze themes well-rooted in their sociocultural context, such as death, social violence and urbanistic organization.
In the conflict between the fantastic and the real, writers have found a narrative genre that seeks to give identity to the Latin America’s reality. The challenge of representing it has instigated the writing of imaginary cities, which served as themes for giving form to a society that sees magic and reality with the same measure of truth. Macondo and Comala, the cities created by Gabriel García Márquez and Juan Rulfo, respectively, will serve as study cases.
Bio: My name is Ana Mafalda Telhada. I recently finished my studies in Architecture, in University of Minho, Portugal. In 2017 I published my thesis which is entitled “Imaginary Places. A study about urban spaces in the fictional city of Macondo” and I have already participated in a couple of competitions about similar themes. I’m interested in exploring the urban space and architecture in narrative references and tales of Latin-America and European literature. Nowadays, I work as an architect in Guimarães, Portugal.
Nazlı M. Ümit holds an MA from the Department of Drama at Exeter University, and received her PhD from the Institute of Turkology, Istanbul University, with a thesis on Turkish theatre historiography and European Orientalists. She practises Karagöz in professional performances and projects. She is currently Assistant Professor at Istanbul Kultur University, specialising in Turkish-Ottoman theatre, theatre historiography, and Karagöz. Her publications on theatre and Karagöz include Irish Theatre II: Lady Gregory (Mitos, 2012), Traditional Turkish Theatre: Karagöz Puppet Plays, ed. by Marvin Carlson and Nazlı M. Ümit (CUNY Martin E. Segal Theatre Center, 2019), and Hayal Yahut Karagöz’ün Son Perdesi ve Nev İcad Hayal Tiyatrosu (Libra, 2020).
Patrick Hart is Assistant Professor of English Language and Literature at Bilkent University in Ankara, and co-editor of the Journal of the Northern Renaissance. He has recently published on punctuation and poetic voice in the poetry of Drummond of Hawthornden, and on the fate of theatre under lockdown, and is currently writing a book on Baroque Petrarchism. He also works on Anglophone travel writing on Turkey, and is co-editor of Henrietta Liston’s Travels: The Turkish Journals, 1812-1820 (Edinburgh UP, 2020).
In order to transform the fantastic storyworld, the Magical Negro must leave behind his role as a subservient Hollywood caricature who is expected to die saving the white hero, Lance the Brave, from menacing black shadows. Lance sees the Magical Negro in terms of a racist stereotype: speaking a “strange dialect”, his hair “corrupted” and his skin a “horrible color” (13). However, instead of fighting that derogative representation, the Magical Negro is empowered by it. He rebels against his racist stock character fate, declaring that this is not “some kinda typical fantasy world from some kind of typical fantasy book” (13). He gets rid of Lance, becomes the main character, and leads the narrative from an Anglocentric high fantasy setting to an Afro Caribbean one by transforming into Baron Samedi, a voodoo Loa. In his new form, he strolls into the forest looking for “some hobbits, castles, dragons, princesses, and all that other sh*t” (13).
Using exaggerated stereotypes as her main deconstructive tool, Okorafor writes back to Anglocentric traditions of the fantastic genres by exploring and exposing racist conventions that equate blackness with evil, and condemn characters of colour to oblivion or minor, assisting roles. As her new main character directs his gaze “directly at you” (13) at the moment of emancipation, the narrative makes it clear that the responsibility of making the fantastic more diverse and more inclusive belongs to all of us.
Ms. Päivi Väätänen (MA) is a doctoral candidate at the University of Helsinki, Finland, and she is currently working on finishing her doctoral dissertation on African American science fiction. She has published on narrative ethics and the phenomena of Afrofuturism and Africanfuturism.
Taking the original story from Creation of Gods as a point of departure, this presentation summarizes Ne Zha’s character traits in the major adaptations over different periods and investigates how these productions recapture the potential of classical novel, in spite of its religious overtones, to evoke contemporary resonances and to open up space for cultural re-articulation. Ne Zha (2019), in particular, offers an alternative form of animation|fantasy adaptation by subverting the normative expectation or closures that the original literary text warrants. Drawing upon both adaptation studies and fantasy literature research, this study aims to draw out the implications of contemporary appropriation and inversion of the Chinese fantasy classic in reshaping Ne Zha.
Chengcheng You is an Assistant Professor in the Department of English, Faculty of Arts and Humanities, University of Macau. Her publications include recent articles published in Children’s Literature in Education, Mosaic: An Interdisciplinary Critical Journal, and The Lion and the Unicorn, History of Education & Children’s Literature, and book chapters in Child Governance and Autonomy in Children’s Literature (2016) and New Directions in Children’s Gothic: Debatable Lands (2017). Her current research interests include children’s literature, environmental literature, and adaptation of Chinese classics.