GIFCon 2023 Workshops and Roundtables

Event registration can be found here
The Programme can be found here.
Keynotes and Reading Suggestions can be found here.
Workshops and Roundtables can be found here.

Workshop registration opens on May 3 at noon BST. 

This document is updated as needed. All times listed are BST, British Summer Time



“Solo Roleplaying Games: History and How To” with Anna Blackwell

This workshop will introduce participants to the concept of solo roleplaying games, how they differ from traditional roleplaying games, and notable examples from the sub-culture and its evolution over the past few years. It will delve into the process of creating a solo RPG and work with attendees to brainstorm potential game concepts and ideas for further personal development as well as discuss how to self-publish an RPG zine.

Anna Blackwell is the founder of Blackwell Games, a tabletop games publisher primarily focused on solo roleplaying games with such popular releases as DELVE: A Solo Map Drawing Game, Apothecaria, it’s spin-off Apawthecaria, and the upcoming For Small Creatures Such As We.

She also writes reviews and articles for Tabletop Gaming Magazine, Wyrd Science Magazine, Senet Magazine, among many others.

Workshop Details:
Takes place on Thursday 11 May from 11:15 to 12:30 BST
Registration is first come, first served and can be found here.

“Writing Hybrid Genres” with Dr Oliver Langmead 

Join SFF author Oliver Langmead for a creative writing workshop exploring work that crosses genre boundaries. Participants will identify their favourite genre elements in fantasy and beyond, and receive prompts that will help them to combine those elements in their writing, with a view to creating their very own cross-genre fictions. We will discuss some accomplished examples of hybrid genre work, before embarking on a creative exploration ourselves. What are some of your favourite cross-genre works? If you could combine any genre with fantasy to create something new, what would you pick?

Oliver K. Langmead is a Scottish author and poet. His most recent novels are Glitterati and Birds of Paradise, and his long-form poem, Dark Star, was one of the Guardian’s Best Books of 2015. He has a Doctorate in Fine Art from the University of Glasgow, and works as a Lecturer in Creative Writing at the University of Lancaster. In late 2018 he was the writer in residence at the European Space Agency’s Astronaut Centre in Cologne.

Workshop Details:
Takes place on Thursday 11 May from 11:15 to 12:30 BST
Registration is first come, first served and can be found here.

“Boundless Empathy: Exploring Non-Anthropocentric Writing” with Michael Deerwater 

Disrupting the boundaries between character and world, and between subject and object, can help us imagine a life more closely entwined with the more-than-human.

A growing body of work from writers such as N.K. Jemisin, Laura Jean McKay and Jeff Vandermeer is already deconstructing anthropocentric storytelling by challenging the idea of character as an (anthropic) individual acting upon an external environment to generate change. This workshop will explore the work of these authors through writing exercises designed to encourage playful ways to transcend anthropocentric, individualistic writing, and imagine alternative ways of living.

Michael Deerwater (he/they) is working on a Creative Writing doctorate at the University of Glasgow. His work explores post-anthropocene futures in genres of the fantastic and has been published in Surveillance & Society and presented at the IAFA’s Once and Future Fantasies conference. He is an organiser and chair of the interdisciplinary Bio-Lit Talks and is actively involved in youth work with Volunteer Glasgow and Glasgow City Council. Socials are @MrDeerwater.

Workshop Details:
Takes place on Thursday 11 May from 11:15 to 12:30 BST
Registration is first come, first served and can be found here.

“‘The tale is the map that is the territory’: Exploring national identity and the fantastic unknown through the Hunterian Collection” with Siobhan Mulligan and Isabel Ferrari 

In this workshop, participants will explore boundary-making and the fantastic in the construction of national identity. Beginning with a brief discussion of Jorge Luis Borges’ “On Exactitude in Science” as referenced in Neil Gaiman’s American Gods, participants will be guided through three writing exercises. Each exercise uses an object from the Hunterian Collection as a prompt: a distance slab from the Antonine wall; Roullet’s 17th century print “Bellerophon Slaying the Chimaera”; and a world map designed for the Qing Emperor Kangxi in 1674. Through these objects, we will investigate the blurry boundaries between myth- and map-making in fantasy worldbuilding.

Isabel Ferrari (she/her) graduated in 2021 from the University of Glasgow with a Joint Honours Degree in English and Comparative Literature. She completed an MLitt in Fantasy Literature in 2022 at the same institution. Her research interests include modern fantasy literature, transmedia fantasy, and mythology and folklore in fantasy. Her creative writing includes short and long fiction, mostly in the fantasy, romance and sci-fi genres.

Siobhan Mulligan (she/her) is a DFA candidate at the University of Glasgow, researching urban fantasy and representations of the southern U.S. For upcoming workshops, poems, and other publications, get quarterly updates at

Workshop Details:
Takes place on Friday 12 May from 13:45 to 15:00 BST
Registration is first come, first served and can be found here.

“Academic Yassification: From Essay to Article, Navigating Student Publishing” with Gabriel Elvery 

We write essays. They get graded. We pretend to read the feedback… they are never seen again! To save your work from languishing on a hard drive, student journal, Mapping the Impossible has devised a workshop to guide you through the mysterious process of academic publishing. Join us to learn how to give your essay the glow-up it deserves and help find it a forever home in an academic journal (preferably ours 😈).  

This workshop is suitable for students new to academic publishing. Some minimal preparation is required; you will receive an information pack prior to the event. 

Gabe is a genderfluid, neurodivergent LKAS funded PhD researcher at the University of Glasgow. Prior to their PhD, they graduated top for their Fantasy MLitt and PGCE, after obtaining a First Class Degree in English Literature from the University of Warwick. Gabe is an experienced writer and editor: they were co-deputy editor for Press Start, worked for the academic writing department at Glasgow (including their student journal [X]position) and have been published at multiple outlets including The British Fantasy Society Journal, Games and Culture, First Person Scholar and Springer. To see their work, visit their website.   

Workshop Details:
Takes place on Friday 12 May from 13:45 to 15:00 BST
Registration is first come, first served and can be found here.

Roundtable Participants

Researching Boundaries and Margins 

Takes place on Wednesday 10 May from 10:00 to 11:00 BST

Chair: Grace A.T. Worm is a 3rd year PhD researcher at the University of Glasgow researching Tamora Pierce and the boundaries of class, gender, adulthood, medievalism, and heroism. She is also Senior Editor for Mapping the Impossible, Headquarters Officer for the Centre for Fantasy and the Fantastic, and the Events Coordinator for GIFCon.
Deputy Chair: Alexis Evans

Bettina Juszak is a second-year PhD student in the Humanities department at York University, Toronto. She has degrees in fantasy literature from the University of Glasgow and in linguistics from the University of Cambridge. Her interdisciplinary thesis research concerns the connective and affective dimensions of magical music in contemporary fantasy literature and mythological influences thereon, but she is also interested in translation, intermediality, and fan studies. She is an editor for Mapping the Impossible: Journal for Fantasy Research and is currently in the process of publishing her second speculative fiction short story.

Dion Dobrzynski is a third-year PhD student funded by the Forest Edge Doctoral Scholarship Programme, run by the Birmingham Institute of Forest Research (BIFoR) at the University of Birmingham. His project explores forest ecology in the fantasy fiction of William Morris, J. R. R. Tolkien and Ursula K. Le Guin. Running immersive ‘reading walks’ and interactive workshops in collaboration with Ruskin Land in the Wyre Forest, Dion has been using fantasy forests to stimulate cognitive, affective, and ethical engagements with a real forest environment.

Mariana Rios Maldonado (she/her) completed her undergraduate degree at the Autonomous University of Zacatecas, Mexico and her masters at Berlin’s Freie Universität. Her research focuses on the influence of Germanic culture in contemporary literature, Germanophonic fantastic literature, and J.R.R. Tolkien’s literary production. Mariana is currently a PhD candidate in at the University of Glasgow researching ethics and Otherness in Tolkien’s Middle-earth Narratives, funded by Mexico’s National Council for Science and Technology and its National Foundation for Fine Arts and Literature. She is the Equality and Diversity Officer for the University of Glasgow’s Centre for Fantasy and the Fantastic.

Parinita Shetty is a part-time public library assistant, part-time postdoctoral researcher and sometimes children’s book writer. She completed her M.Ed in Children’s Literature and Literacies at the University of Glasgow in 2017 and her PhD in Education at the University of Leeds in 2022. She launched a PhD research/fan podcast called Marginally Fannish to explore intersectionality and public pedagogy in SFF fan podcasts. She is passionate about co-creating knowledge, including diverse voices in academic spaces, and finding ways to make academic research accessible to non-academic audiences. 

The roundtable can be watched here.

Tabletop Role Playing Games 

Takes place on Friday 12 May from 13:45 to 15:00 BST

Chair: Emma French is a PhD Student and member of the Centre for Fantasy and the Fantastic at the University of Glasgow. Her research focuses on how Dungeons & Dragons (D&D) consolidates our notions of fantasy, while enabling players to critically challenge and subvert established genre conventions. She is acting Social Media Officer for Glasgow International Fantasy Conversations, and a Senior Editor at Mapping the Impossible: Journal for Fantasy Research.

Dr Andy Tytler has over a decade of writing and editing experience and has facilitated writing workshops around the world. He holds a doctorate in creative writing from the University of Glasgow, and his speculative fiction has appeared in Archive of the Odd, The Colored Lens, Electric Spec, Triangulation: Habitats, and elsewhere. @NotTheAeronaut,

Misha Grifka Wander is a PhD candidate, writer, and games designer. Their academic work focuses on video game studies, comics studies, and speculative fiction studies, using a ecocritical and queer lens. His creative work focuses on queer experience, speculative futures, and the environment, themes he explores through comics, poetry, and prose. 

Beatrix (Bea) Livesey-Stephens (she/her) is an MPhil student at Abertay University, where she studies the use of safety tools and the performance of romance and sexuality in TTRPGs. She will never shut up about how Caro Asercion’s I’m Sorry Did You Say Street Magic revolutionises worldbuilding.  

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