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

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Workshops

“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.

Bio:
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?

Bio:
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.

Bio:
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.

Bios:
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 tinyletter.com/siobhanmull

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. 

Bio:
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, andytytler.com

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.  

GIFCon 2023 Boundaries and Margins Speaker Bios and Abstracts

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

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Panelists in alphabetical order (by first name):

Aicha Daoudi

Abstract:
Trickster Witches: The Manifestation of the Archaic Trickster Energy in Female Characters of the American Fantasy Genre

The archetype of the trickster has long been linked to boundary crossing and liminality. In recent decades, there have been numerous studies concerning the gender of the figure, and the female trickster rose to the surface. Some of these significant studies include those of Marilyn Jurich, Lori Landay, Maria Tatar, and Ricki Stefanie Tannen. They identify numerous female tricksters such as Scheherazade (One Thousand and One Nights), Cat Woman (Batman), Katniss Everdeen (The Hunger Games), and Carrie Bradshaw (Sex and the City). These scholars focused their research on genres like folklore, as well as realistic romance, comedy, dystopia, and thrillers, but they neglected Fantasy. In fact, this neglection could account for two of these scholars’ statements: That supernatural and magical characters, specifically witches, could not be possible tricksters (Jurich 49) and that the archaic feature of the trickster; buffoonery, has disappeared in post-modern times leaving only tricksters as culture heroes (Tannen 133)*. However, what if we inspect Fantasy for supernatural tricksters? This present paper aims to do just that. It examines three American series: Charmed, Supernatural, and Witches of East End demonstrating how trickster energies can manifest in witches like Phoebe Halliwell, Rowena MacLeod, and Wendy Beauchamp. It also demonstrates how fantastical dramas can provide a medium for these characters to exhibit the archaic duality of cultural heroism and buffoonery. It starts by addressing the characters’ liminality in moral behavior. It moves to tackle how they transcend and transgress creative tendencies being verbal and magical, and, finally, it concludes with an examination of the duality and how the three witches demonstrate an archaic image of the archetype.

*The scholar Michael Carroll agrees with Tannen that buffoonery disappears in post-modern tricksters (male or female).

Bio:
Aicha Daoudi is a Ph.D. student at the University of Limerick, Ireland. Academically, she focuses her research on genre studies and psychoanalytic criticism. She previously worked on the effects of roleplay in video games, the monomyth, as well as themes of female repression and mental illness. She is currently working on the overlap of the trope of the witch with archaic archetypal energies in American television series of the late twentieth and early twenty-first century. Her research interests include popular culture, American fiction, Fantasy, archetypes, witchcraft, and the supernatural.

Alvin Emmanuel Alagao

Abstract:
A Filipino Gamer Gets Lost in the Universe of Saga Frontier in 1998 and 2021: An Autoethnography

SaGa Frontier is a science fantasy Japanese role-playing game developed by Square Enix (then Squaresoft) that was originally released for the PlayStation in 1997. While SaGa Frontier proved popular in Japan and even got a rerelease in the mid-2000s as part of Square’s Ultimate Hits label, it only ended up being a cult classic in North America.

A number of factors could be said to have contributed to the disparity between the popularity of Saga Frontier in North America and the popularity of the game in Japan. The non-linear character of game and its arcane mechanics may have turned off American gamers, for one. Such a difference should not come as a surprise since different groups of people “read” works differently. Indeed, a study by Brückner et. al. (2019) found that there were significant differences in the ways Japanese and German gamers received JRPGs. For one, the study found that in the case of Trails of Cold Steel, German gamers had positive view of its plot while Japanese gamers “frequently criticize the story of ToCS as being repetitive and stereotypical, with characters that lack depth and appear to be unnecessary to the story” (p. 226).

While Square did not intentionally target a Filipino audience for SaGa Frontier, I was able to play its US release in 1998 and its remastered version in 2021. How did I, a Filipino gamer living in the Philippiness—a non-addressee—receive the game? Using an autoethnographic approach, this paper will take a critical look into my own experience of getting lost in the universe of Saga Frontier. By writing this paper, I hope that I can shed more light on how fantasy JRPGs generate different responses as they traverse cultural boundaries.

Bio:
Alvin Emmanuel G. Alagao is a graduate of the University of the Philippines Diliman’s MA Art Studies (Art History) program. He currently teaches at the Department of Humanities, University of the Philippines Los Baños. His current research interests include the history of Philippine painting and its aesthetics, art and technology, and reception study/history/theory. He has been playing video games since he was five years old (maybe even younger) and would also like to do more research in game studies. You can reach him at agalagao@up.edu.ph.

Amber Hancock

Abstract:
Rejected and Searching for Home: An Exploration of Doorways and Queer Representation in Seanan McGuire’s Every Heart a Doorway

My paper will explore the themes of rejection, home and queerness as represented within Seanan McGuire’s Every Heart a Doorway through her allegorical use of doors to other worlds. ‘Doors’ and ‘doorways’ is a common trope in both fantasy literature and children’s/young adult literature. From Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland to Phillip Pullman’s His Dark Materials, these doorways are often associated with identity formation with a focus on that transitional period between adolescence and adulthood. Every Heart a Doorway, however, considers the aftermath of a traditional portal fantasy by emphasizing the tragedy of finding ‘home’ on the other side of a doorway only to lose it again. Indeed, having returned from a different world irrevocably changed, each character at Eleanor West’s Home for Wayward Children embodies the struggle of living an identity when surrounded by misunderstanding and rejection. Through their choices in clothing, food and bedroom, the teenagers of the novel exemplify what Georg Simmel described those who ‘at any moment … separate the connected and connect the separate.’ The poignancy of the author’s approach to questions of doorways and home is further highlighted through the novel’s queer representation; of its five main characters, three are explicitly queer and centers often-underrepresented identities within that spectrum, including asexual and transgendered individuals. Thus, examining this novel through a queer lens, I will discuss the significance of the novel’s connected tropes of doorways and home through an examination of its diverse character representation, how the narrative defines the concept of home and the isolating dangers of being unable to find the way home.

Bio:
Amber Hancock is originally from Chino, California, and received her BA and MA in English from California State University Fullerton in 2008 and 2014 respectively. She recently earned her PhD at Bangor University in North Wales, which explored different kinds of border representation across prose genres within Late Modern/Contemporary Welsh and Scottish-based, English-language literature.
Twitter: Dr Amber Hancock@amadaun777

Amy Richmond

Abstract:
The Living (and Loving) Dead: The Erotic Rejection of Death in Critical Role: Campaign 3

Dungeons & Dragons (D&D) is no stranger to transgressing death. From death mechanics and saving throws, revivification spells, undead creatures, and more, the fascination with defying or reversing death is central to many players enjoyment of the game. Never is this more obvious than in the live-play D&D stream Critical Role (2015-Present) where character entanglements with death form recurring plot arcs throughout the three campaigns streamed on Twitch.com. The current campaign, Critical Role: Campaign Three, follows the adventuring party The Bell’s Hells as they grapple with political troubles and corruptions. In this group, actress Marisha Ray plays the character of Laudna, a dead woman brought back to life by the – also dead – necromancer who killed her, Delilah Briarwood. Both characters are defined by their conscious/unconscious rejections of the final bodily boundary – death. This paper aims to perform an autopsy on the dead women and the fan reactions to them, exploring the eroticism of the relationship between them and the fan eroticisation of Laudna in particular. The relationship between Laudna and Imogen Temult, played by actress Laura Bailey, has been a fan favourite, with the pairing amassing 800+ hits on fanfiction site Archive Of Our Own. This paper will use a combination of critical engagement with the live-stream and improvisation by Ray, Bailey, and Dungeon Master Matthew Mercer and fanart and engagement on social media, supplemented with gender and queer body politics theory. It will argue that the fan engagement aids in the transgression of death, placing the dead female body as an object of queer erotic potential, not sexualizing it under the male gaze, but rather under a queer female gaze.

Bio:
Amy Richmond (she/they) is an early-career academic who holds an MA(hons) in English from the University of Aberdeen and an MLitt in Fantasy Literature from the University of Glasgow. Specialising in contemporary fantastic fiction, their research interests include spatial theory, queer theory, Young Adult fiction, and body politics. She has presented at Exclamat!on Conference and is on the journal board as Social Media Officer and Copyeditor for Mapping the Impossible.

Ane B. Ruiz-Lejarcegui

Abstract:
Embracing Hybrid Identities in Silvia Moreno-García’s The Daughter of Doctor Moreau

Silvia Moreno-García’s The Daughter of Doctor Moreau (2022) offers a feminist re-imagining of H.G. Wells’ The Island of Doctor Moreau (1896), focusing on the antagonist’s daughter, Carlota Moreau. Although both novels involve a ruthless Doctor who has managed to manufacture half-human, half-animal creatures, Wells’ takes place in a remote island, away from repercussions, while Moreno-García’s is set against the backdrop of the Caste War of Yucatán, in late nineteenth century Mexico. This paper aims to show that Moreno-García’s use of real Mexican history and elements of its cultural identity, far from serving as mere background against which to tell Wells’ story, becomes an opportunity to approach alterity and transgression from an intersectional perspective. The hybrid identity—highly mediated in the original novel by its white, male, bourgeois focaliser—is offered its own voice in the 2022 re-imagining by having the titular daughter be a hybrid herself. Thus, I argue that hybridity becomes a metaphor for all forms of exploitation endured by marginalised communities: that of women under men, slaves under owners, people of colour under white people, and an overarching capitalism that makes commodities out of them all. In order to illustrate this, I will first look at the importance of naming as a process to establish the hybrids’ identity and its interrelatedness with the Maya language and culture, through a comparison of each novel’s depiction and mediation of alterity. Secondly, I will examine Carlota’s journey of self-discovery through the lens of what Latina feminist author Mariana Ortega has designated as the ‘multiplicitous selfhood’. Lastly, I will ponder on how The Daughter of Doctor Moreau converges Wells’ original dissolution of binary oppositions with an optimistic approach towards marginalised identities that not only breaks such hierarchies but also embraces—cultural, linguistic, racial—hybridity.

Bio:
Ane Belen Ruiz Lejarcegui is a PhD student from the University of the Basque Country, Spain, where she has been granted a scholarship by the Basque Government to carry out her thesis on hybrid identities, power asymmetries and othering in science fictional narrative discourse. She has done extensive research on H.G. Wells’ early works for her BA and MA dissertations, and her interests include Gothic fiction, Monster Studies, Critical Posthumanism and Cultural Studies.

Anika Klose

Abstract:
“My Colours Are Mine” – New Shades of Detective Fiction in Ambelin and Ezekiel Kwaymullina’s Catching Teller Crow

The traditional detective story follows a well-established pattern: a crime, an investigation, and the restoration of order. Genre rules regarding plot and solution first laid out by Van Dine establish a Great Detective who uses scientific methods and rationality to end a previous abnormal state while also restoring a sense of justice. Taking the colonial origins of the detective story into account, the reinstated order is largely influenced by a Eurocentric viewpoint. The alleged superiority of European values leads to the othering non-European characters, who are in turn presented as suspects or culprits.

Instead of perpetuating European methods and empiricism in the detective story, Catching Teller Crow by Aboriginal Australian authors Ambelin and Ezekiel Kwaymullina defy the genre tradition. With three Aboriginal dead girls at the centre of the investigation, the speculative YA novel challenges the traditional depiction of the Great Detective by foregrounding “intra- and intergenerational relationships between women rooted in indigenous epistemologies” (Mattila and Burger 20). In this paper, I will explore how the narrative’s combination of prose and poetry as well as the non-Western approaches to closure and reconciliation offer powerful resistance to the social order fostered by the traditional detective story. Addressing Australia’s history of colonisation and the Stolen Generations through a magical realist lens subverts and dismantles the established colonial order, consequently turning Catching Teller Crow into a feminist postcolonial rewriting (20, 26). Contesting Van Dine’s rules for detective fiction, the novel’s supernatural detective, witness, and murderer defy the boundaries of not only detective fiction but also the borders between life and death as the natural order is not restored but re-established.

Bio:
Anika Klose is a German postgraduate student of Fantasy MLitt at the University of Glasgow. She completed her BA in Media and Culture Science at the Heinrich-Heine-University of Dusseldorf. As an illustrator and student assistant, she was part of the project “Charting the Australian Fantastic”. Moreover, she published blog posts and lectured on Australian Speculative Fiction. In 2022, she has spoken at GiFCon and the Once and Future Fantasies Conference. Her research interests include fantasy costumes, queer monsters, and bodily disassociation.

Anushmita Mohanty

Abstract:
On Why We Read Fantasy: Affective Responses as Generic Boundaries

Fantasy, like most genres, is difficult to define or delineate, as the varieties of texts that employ the fantastic across time and space often have little in common. BBC’s Merlin, Syed Haider Bakhsh’s Qissa-e Hatim Tai, Amish Tripathi’s The Immortals of Meluha, Jordan Ifueko’s Raybearer, and Mohsin Hamid’s Exit West all share elements of the fantastic. As a more disparate set of texts could barely exist, in what ways can the generic boundaries of fantasy be defined? In this paper, I will explore how the affective responses of the audience can be used to understand the unifying features of the fantasy genre. What emotional needs, I ask, does fantasy fulfill, why have readers turned to fantasy for these emotional experiences, and how do these emotions diverge and converge across contexts? If genre can be viewed as a pact between the reader and the audience, this pact that can help understand the boundaries of fantasy. My methodology aligns with Janice Radway’s Reading the Romance, which uses reader responses to analyse the romance genre. In this paper, I shall examine the strategies, tropes, and rhetoric used by writers of the fantasy texts mentioned above, as well as elements of marketing and presentation that fulfill specific audience expectations. I shall also draw upon audience responses through book review and online discussion posts in conjunction with affect theories to answer the question of what audiences look for in fantasy. Both audience disappointment and satisfaction, I shall argue, have influenced the evolution of fantasy. Finally, drawing on Ebony Elizabeth Thomas’s The Dark Fantastic, I shall also analyse the implications of marginalization in fantasy to ask how underrepresented or problematically depicted audiences negotiate affective responses to fantasy fiction, and the ways in which are they excluded from the generic pact between audience and writers of fantasy.

Bio:
Anushmita Mohanty is from Ahmedabad, India, and is currently a PhD candidate in Literature and Cultural Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. She previously graduated with a Masters in World Literatures from the University of Oxford, and has a BA in English from Lady Shri Ram College, New Delhi. Her research has been published in the Oxford Research in English Journal, and the Contemporary Literature Review of India. She previously worked as an Assistant Editor for Studies in History, SAGE. Her research interests include education and literature, fantasy fiction, children’s literature, and book history.

Caighlan Smith

Abstract:
A Hero’s Morality Play: Epic Fantasy Heroes and Morality Mechanics in Video Games

In considering Epic Fantasy, Tolkien inevitably comes to mind, alongside other more modern popular works such as Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire or Jordan’s The Wheel of Time. But what happens when the narrative tropes represented by such Epic Fantasy stories are channeled through the medium of video games? How does the story and the consumer’s reaction to the story change when the consumer is required to step into the shoes – or take up the sword – of the Epic hero themselves? In this presentation, I seek to analyze the ludonarrative operations (how gameplay and narrative work together to create the gaming experience) of several Epic Fantasy games which employ either explicitly or by implication morality mechanics through player in-game choice, such as the Fable series (2004-2010), the Dragon Age series (2009-2004), and The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (2011). I expose how allowing the player moral choice within such narratives might enhance player engagement to the narrative they are personalizing, but at the risk of disengaging players from the ethical implications of the choices they have made. To engage in morality mechanics through Epic Fantasy video games complicates player ethical involvement as (1) the fantastical setting places moral scenarios a step away from “reality” and (2) the player’s assumption of the hero role in these games often goes unchanged despite player actions; a player can lie, cheat, steal, murder, and still narratively retain the role of heroic savior in the main plot. This paper therefore seeks to investigate how the video game consumer’s moral playing of the hero – as opposed to the literature or film-consumer’s moral judgement of the hero – can change perhaps not the overarching glory of the Epic Fantasy hero plot but, and perhaps more insidiously, the day-to-day living as a hero in a virtual fantasy world.

Bio:
Caighlan Smith is a PhD student with the English Department of Memorial University of Newfoundland, holding a B.A. (Hons.) in English from Memorial University and an MLitt (with Distinction) in Fantasy from the University of Glasgow. Her current research interests include power dynamics, gender, monstrosity, fantasy, and hero narratives in video games.

Cameron Bourquein

Abstract:
How Do You Solve a Problem Like “Mairon”?: Exploring How Sauron’s Most Marginal Name Recasts the Lord of the Rings

“[N]othing is evil in the beginning, even Sauron was not so.” These words from J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings express a theological axiom and hint at a character arc for its hidden and eponymous villain—an arc we are never shown, even in the wider corpus of Tolkien’s Legendarium. Unlike Morgoth (the Luciferian “beginner of discord”) who appeared within the opening chapter of The Silmarillion as the unfallen “Melkor,” the unfallen pre-Sauron remained hidden and nameless—until 2007. With the publication of the 17th volume of the Tolkien linguistic journal Parma Eldalamberon, we learned that Sauron had once been “Mairon” (The Admirable).

This name exists only in one place, a figurative and literal margin: a single footnote to a metatextual project inside a niche linguistic journal which had, until very recently, remained out of print. Yet within fandom this marginal note has generated a metaphorical “Great Wave” of transformative works and renewed interest in Sauron as a character. What gives this bit of marginalia such potency in fandom? What can be gleaned from this name amid the dozens of other names and epithets applied to Sauron both in The Lord of the Rings and across the Legendarium? How does “Mairon” compare to the names of Sauron’s maia foils Melyanna, Curumo, and Olórin? What might “Mairon” suggest about the telos of its owner? And what can we make of Tolkien’s statement that Sauron “continued to call himself “Mairon” […] until after the fall of Numenor?”

In the spirit of Croft’s and Broadwell’s work on onomastics in Tolkien as well as the Tolkien fandom history work of Dawn Walls-Thumma, I will explore these questions with regard to how they help shape a potential “capsule story” for the Lord of the Rings, himself.

Bio:
Cameron Bourquein (she/her) is an independent scholar who received her BA from Anderson University in 2006 (Theatre Studies, Graphic Design, Information Systems). Her undergraduate thesis integrated her love of sculpture, set design, acting, and the photography of Josef Sudek into a one-woman show examining the intersection of external space and internal narrative. A lover of Tolkien since the mid 90s, Cameron is currently focused on researching Sauron and his intersections with the metaphysics of Middle-earth. She will be presenting this April at the Popular Culture Association’s 2023 National Conference and this August at The Mythopoeic Society’s Midsummer Seminar.

Canchen Cao

Abstract:
What the “Other” Uncovers: The Periphery of the Medieval Fantasy World and Universe

When contemplating the wonders of the universe, human beings tend to respond imaginatively to phenomena that seem to be poised between fantasy and reality. Monsters have been considered as creatures characterised by “otherness” in various cultures across the fantastic world, as can be observed in medieval writings on distant races and marvellous lands. Considerable scholarly attention has been paid to monsters and the ideology of monstrosity in the Middle Ages; however, relatively little effort has been made to perform cross-cultural examination of monstrous races in the global context of medieval fantasy. This paper will explore how people in the global Middle Ages represented their wonderment at “monstrous races” from the 11th century to the early modern period.

In conversation with scholarship on religious conflict and cultural dissemination in the Middle Ages, the paper will investigate the narratives of monstrous figures in a range of sources, from medieval Christian world maps, mappae mundi, to Arabic and Chinese manuscripts on geography. It will offer insights into how medieval people interconnectedly expressed contemporary social, theological and ideological concerns about “the Other”, both “real” monsters and people who were perceived as monstrous beings. A historical analysis of religious conflict in the Middle Ages will be provided to explain why medieval Christians perceived the Monsters, the Muslims and the Orientals as “the Other”, and how they transformed this conception of otherness into a cartographical form. Meanwhile, this paper will examine how non-European cultures shaped fantastic depictions of the “the Other” to discover compelling interconnections between historical records of monstrous races in liminal spaces and margins.

Bio:
Canchen Cao is a postgraduate student in Medieval History, who holds a first-class honours degree in English Literature and History of Art from University of Glasgow. Her academic interest mainly focuses on exploring the interconnection between medieval geography and monstrous creatures from a global interdisciplinary perspective, seeking to uncover how medieval historical records formulated people’s understanding of the human body and monstrous races. She has already presented her research at several international academic conferences, extensively on monster study, medical science and cross-cultural investigation of cartography in the Middle Ages.

Charlie Schroeder and Roxanne Tuckman

Abstract:
Grotesque Bodies and Surreal Planes: Transgressing the Boundaries of the Weird through Video Game Glitches

Video games are unique in their propensity to break–no matter how streamlined a virtual world is, the intended experience engineered by a developer will, inevitably, shatter. A player might find themselves glitching out of the intended boundaries of their virtual world and into a place unknown even to developers, filled with half-rendered horrors and surreal images. Or, they might find that objects and characters begin to behave and move in ways that defy the laws of physics. This paper will explore how these unintended effects invoke the Weird, as defined by Mark Fisher in The Weird and the Eerie: “that which lies beyond standard perception, cognition, and experience” (2017). Though this paper will argue that all glitches are inherently Weird, player response to these unexpected events can vary greatly; a glitch in a video game may be grotesque, warping the human form beyond recognition. It may be sublime as imagined by Immanuel Kant, unveiling a surreal plane of overwhelming power and beauty. It may even be absurd, attested to by the various humorous videos on YouTube devoted to video game glitches. This paper will use examples of such glitches from well-known titles like Blizzard Entertainment’s World of Warcraft, FromSoftware’s Dark Souls series, Behavior Interactive’s Dead by Daylight, and various realistic military shooters.

Bio:
Charlie Schroeder (he/they) received their Master of Letter’s in Fantasy Literature at the University of Glasgow. Their research interests include video games, Tolkien studies, queer & transgender theory, and postcolonial theory.

Roxanne Tuckman (she/her) is a graduate student in the English MA program at California State University Northridge. Her research interests include Gender & Women studies, Queer theory, and the Horror genre.

Chengcheng You

Abstract:
Outlandish Representations: Crossing Boundaries of Species and Genres in Young Adult Liminal Fantasy

If the Anthropocene “resists literary fiction”, as Amitav Ghosh claims, due to the unrepresentability of the increasing uncanniness of quotidian experience, young adult liminal fantasy may emerge as an alternative mode of fiction formally suited to this task. The genre is often characterized by carefully nuanced sensibilities at the subtle borderline between adolescence and adulthood, the familiar and the unfamiliar, the natural and the unnatural to conjure up the banality of the impossible encounter. Representative of such liminality, fantastic creatures are byproducts of complex interactions and literary mediations of the adult authors drawing close to ever-new aesthetic and ethical norms for young adult readers. Within the Anthropocene context, new creatural beings come one after another along with a trend of genre blending on the literary scene. Drawn on the Deleuzian conceptual resources, this study hypothesises a typology of “outlandish creatures” and investigates how the representation of these creatures is canvassed for a capacity to hybridise genre expectations and draw out post-anthropocentric implications that appease current concerns for environmental ethics. The selected narratives, Sonya Hartnett’s The Midnight Zoo (2011), Patrick Ness’s A Monster Calls (2011) and Shaun Tan’s Tales from the Inner City (2018), are closely read with a focus on the affect of child-animal encounter, the mixture of magic realism and ecoGothic, and the zoomorphic imagination each evokes. The study concludes with the ethical-aesthetic complexity of YA liminal fantasy in crossing boundaries between species and genres in the Anthropocene.

Bio:
YOU Chengcheng is an Assistant Professor at the Department of English, Faculty of Arts and Humanities, University of Macau. Her work has been published in, among others, Children’s Literature in Education, Mosaic: An Interdisciplinary Critical Journal, The Lion and the Unicorn, International Research in Children’s Literature and English Studies. Her latest book is Poetics and Ethics of Anthropomorphism: Children, Animals, and Poetry, coauthored with Christopher Kelen (Routledge, 2021). Her publications also include book chapters in the anthologies: Debatable Lands: New Directions in Children’s Gothic (2017), and Posthumanism in Fantastic Fiction (2018) and Representing Childhood and Atrocity (2022).

Cristina Espejo

Abstract:
Fairy tales and Fantasy: Expanding Boundaries and Subverting Expectations

Despite the well-known escapist qualities of fantasy literature and fairy tales, the societies and worlds they depict are often based on the real societies and societal norms under which they were written. This means that beyond the dragons, unicorns and wizards, the patriarchal structures that have dominated the social discourses for centuries are often a very prevalent issue in the genre, even in our current time. In this paper, I aim to examine and discuss the boundaries of the fantastic and fairy-tale genres through two different novels, Howl’s Moving Castle (1986), by Diana Wynne Jones, and Stardust (1999), by Neil Gaiman. I will analyze whether these works break apart from conventions usually present in these genres and whether they can be used as examples of subversive narratives. In specific, I will focus on gender roles and the representation of patriarchal structures, two topics that continue to be a point of contention for works in these genres. Are recent fantastical works really breaking the boundaries of female agency and representation and these traditional, patriarchal structures, or does the basic structure continue to be the same with only the added awareness and recognition of the problem? I argue that by including fairy-tale elements and tropes it later subverts, Howl’s Moving Castle stands perfectly between the fairy-tale and fantasy genres, creating a unique story that breaks with the traditional moulds of both; whereas Stardust, despite being a more recent work, offers a more traditional and conservative view of the same story. With this, I hope to prove that the fairy tale is a genre that can keep pushing the boundaries of fantasy, but that it is important to differentiate between the content that truly upends the genre’s roots and the more performative ways of raising awareness of current issues.

Bio:
Cristina Espejo is a first-year PhD student at the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona. She has a keen interest in fantasy literature, specifically fairy-tale narratives and how they influence fantastic works. She has been working on this topic ever since she finished her English Studies degree, continuing to develop it through her master’s thesis “The New Fairy Tale: Subverting Genre and Characterization in Diana Wynne-Jones Howl’s Moving Castle and its Film Adaptation”. She is currently working on the subversive tendencies of the fairy tale in fantasy novels of the last half of the 20th century.

Declan Roberts

Abstract:
Blurred Battle Lines: Analyzing Energy Analogues in Tracy Deonn’s Legendborn

This paper is a case study for a larger argument I have been making throughout my academic career by blurring the lines between popular and academic theoretical discourse. Therefore, this paper uses a popular fantasy narrative, Tracy Deonn’s Legendborn, to explain the concept of a hyperobject and how hyperobjects can help us understand the looming environmental catastrophes of the twenty-first century. To accomplish these goals this paper begins with a brief overview of Legendborn’s plot, followed by a similarly brief summary of the theoretics of hyperobjects. The summary of hyperobjects is followed by examining the similarities between the contemporary world’s energy systems and the magical energy systems utilized in Legendborn. Specifically, this section focuses on how the different uses of that energy system between the Root practitioners and the Legendborn highlight the varying energy systems within contemporary western society. Progressing onwards, the paper then examines the blurred boundary between the individualistic magic of the Legendborn and the communal magic of the Root practitioners as analogous to the current alternative energy debates in western society. Lastly, this paper concludes with an explanation of the other fantasy narratives which could ameliorate understandings of energy humanities concepts. By blurring the boundaries between fantasy and other scholarly genres, as well as the boundary between academic and popular scholarship, this paper showcases the arbitrary nature of the placement of the boundaries.

Bio:
Hello, my name is Declan Roberts, and I am a Ph.D. student at Memorial University. I am focused on finding ways to relate ecocritical and energy humanities concepts through popular YA fantasy narratives. Furthermore, I aim to highlight how popular narratives can contribute to a societal understanding of various energy and environmental concepts contributing to our current climate crisis. My other scholarly interests are examining the concept of work and labour and the changes to these concepts throughout literary epochs.

Despoina Tantsiopoulou

Abstract:
Opposing School of Thought: Marginalization and the Campus in R.F. Kuang’s “Babel”

In Rebecca F. Kuang’s 2022 novel “Babel,” boundaries are almost tactile. The Royal Institute for Translation sits in the heart of Oxford, which is the heart of England, which is, finally, the centre of the entire world. Set in the early 19th century, it recounts the story of a young Cantonese boy named Robin, brutally severed from his family and brought to the centre of centres to aid the colonisers through the act of translation. He and his friends, the rest of the “Babblers” who also come from the periphery into the centre, are denied assimilation or even acknowledgement of anything but their necessity. The school, the place where they were supposed to finally find their equals and the subject of their childhood hopes for a sense of belonging shall never truly accept them as anything more than means to an end. I will try to show that “Babel” is a contemplation about the role of education in the continuation of building walls instead of bridges among peoples and institutions. The protagonists’ subalternity, the term used by Spivak in her essay “Can the Subaltern Speak,” has been inserted into the centre through cultural interpretation, but it has yet to be completely rid of, which is ultimately the goal according to the theorist. Despite their translation-focused education, their existence goes untranslatable, their bodies become their “texts” through which they attempt speech. The transformative power of the campus is not only seen in the way silver bars produced in and by it bend reality, but also in how it makes centres out of peripheries, provided they remain within its premises. The moment of their exit, though, they reassume their otherness, and when they come back boundaries, proven precarious, are bound to be destroyed.

Bio:
I have a BA from the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens on English Language and Literature with a specialization on Literature and Culture. I hold an MA from the same department, titled “The Greek Element in Anglophone Literature,” with a dissertation on modern rewritings of Euripides’s “Bacchae.” This year I started my PhD in the English Language and Literature department of the University of Athens, where I research the role of the university and boarding school campus in fantasy fiction. I live in Athens and I am a volunteer teacher at the Open School for Migrants in Piraeus.

Dr Dimitra Nikolaidou

Abstract:
Centering on the Margins: The Evolution of Fantasy Tabletop Roe-Playing Games

Since their inception, fantasy Tabletop Role-Playing Games (TRPGs) had to contest with accusations of deliberate marginalization of women, minorities and indigenous populations. Initially a niche hobby addressed at a narrow demographic, TRPGS evaded criticism up to a point as their origins in pulp fantasy literature rendered them beneath the notice of critics; however, shifts in the perception of fantasy facilitated by online discourse as well as the increased popularity of gaming among adults recently brought these issues to the forefront. Established game designers responded to criticism in different ways; some made incremental changes, others upended established narratives while new designers revitalized the genre by adopting entirely different approaches in accordance to new mores. Given the well-established and reciprocative relationship between fantasy literature and fantasy TRPGs, and the increased impact of gaming in Western culture, this evolution is of importance far beyond the gaming community.

The proposed paper aims to a) examine the ways in which women, minorities, subaltern cultures and LGBTQ+ people have been either marginalized or symbolically annihilated in TRPGs and b) chart the evolution away from marginalization and into inclusion through a decades-long process of conflict and negotiation. To achieve these aims, the paper utilizes a combined framework of narrative and cultural studies, mainly focusing on the Dungeons and Dragons and World of Darkness as case studies but also including illustrative examples from Legend of the Five Rings, Vaesen and Call of Cthulhu. The conclusions suggest that, due to their unique format, fantasy TRPGs are quick to respond to shifting sociocultural mores and evolve accordingly though not without encountering resistance; the process is also bound to influence not only fantasy literature but also Western culture in general.

Keywords: TRPGs, Fantasy Literature, Intersectionality, Narrative, Culture

Bio:
Dimitra Nikolaidou holds a PhD from the University of Aristotle, Thessaloniki. Her work has been presented in numerous conferences and workshops. Her papers have been published by Bloomsbury and are scheduled to be published by Palgrave Macmillan and MIT Press, among others. She’s the co-founder of the Tales of the Wyrd Speculative Fiction Workshop. She is additionally a published author of speculative fiction.

Eilidh Harrower

Abstract:
“You kids have fun” – ‘Bodies Bodies Bodies’ and ‘Scream’ as Reflections of Changing Generational Fears

This paper will compare Scream (1996) and Bodies Bodies Bodies (2022) as reflections of the Millennial generation and Generation Z, discussing how their differences show the changing fears of the two generations, and how audience reactions to Bodies Bodies Bodies reflects the societal view of Generation Z as a whole.

Scream (1996) is a defining horror film for the Millennial generation, as it rejuvenated the horror genre, bringing back the slasher film and thrilling audiences. Across the Millennial generation, there has been various waves of horror, ranging from extreme gore to psychological thriller. However, it is theorised that a new wave of generational horror is beginning to appear. The arrival of ‘Gen-Z’ horror creates an interesting comparison of two generations, showing the boundaries between them and how different their fears are.

Alice Bucknell, in her article ‘How modern horror cinema is galvanising Generation Z’, explains “Gen Z horror is not so much concerned with terror, violence and trauma point blank as it is with the forces of consumption culture that surround it.” (2017) In many ways, Bodies Bodies Bodies follows very similar tropes to that of classic horror films of Millennial audiences, but places them in a new context with influence from Generation Z culture, often with a comedic undertone. With references to TikTok, astrology, and in-depth discussions of mental health and trauma, the movie is reflection of how Millennials view the younger generation.

By comparing Scream and Bodies Bodies Bodies, this paper moves to show how the horror genre is shifting focus, and beginning to depict fears and worries of the new generation of viewers, with polarising reactions from audience members either enjoying the new wave of horror, or believing it to be just as superficial as Gen-Z is seen to be.

Bio:
Eilidh Harrower graduated from the University of Glasgow, achieving Distinction in her MLitt English Literature degree. Her research interests include, but are not limited to, theatre and literature, transmedial studies, horror, witchcraft and paganism, creative writing and experimental forms of literature. She hopes to examine some of these interests even further as a PhD candidate in the future. Eilidh had the honour of presenting at the Dissenting Beliefs conference in December 2021, and Glasgow International Fantasy Conversations (GIFCon) in April 2022, and Once and Future Fantasies in July 2022, all held and organised by the University of Glasgow.

Esther Edelmann

Abstract:
Fantastic Underdevelopment in E.T.A. Hoffmann’s The Devil’s Elixirs and Reinaldo Arenas’ Hallucinations

The literary fantastic has often been analysed as a symptomatic expression of the return of the repressed (Jackson 1981) or reduced to a structural reader function (Todorov 1973). More recently, it has also been read as the superstructural expression of the fluctuations and tensions of capital (McNally, 2011). What said psychoanalytical, structuralist, and Marxist approaches have in common is that they describe the fantastic as an “unconscious,” or “passive” function of an underlying structure, be it a psychic, semiotic, or basal economic one.

This paper, in contrast, recasts the literary fantastic as a deliberate, that is, conscious response to modernity. Postulating that the genre seeks to make palpable the “phantom-like objectivity” of bourgeois society, I argue, more concretely, that the fantastic emerges as a form of “critical anti-realism” in response to regional discourses about political and economic under/development. As Andre Gunder Frank (1979) and Samir Amin (2011) contend, “marginal” world regions only begin to underdevelop as a result of their integration into a single world market. As such, underdevelopment is literally the creation of modernity, and, hence, the product of capital’s spatial hierarchization into core and peripheral economies. The fantastic, as I will contend, emerges as the aesthetic expression of the coincidence of residual marginal and dominant emergent elements, and, in so doing, actively comments on the dialectics of under/development. My paper sets out to describe this correlation between the fantastic and the notion of dependent accumulation by producing a comparison between E.T.A. Hoffmann’s The Devil’s Elixirs and Reinaldo Arenas’ Hallucinations. Both novels emerge in the context of arising nation-states (Germany and Cuba) and depict the social transitions from (colonial) feudalism to bourgeois society. As such, they directly address the question of politico-economic integration and development.

Bio:
Esther Edelmann is an early-career scholar, who successfully defended her dissertation Inverted Worlds and Belated Baroques, last year at Leiden University. Her dissertation focuses on neo-baroque and fantastic elements in Latin American and German literature and philosophy. She teaches at the Departments for “International Studies” and “Literature, Film, and Media Studies” at Leiden University. Before graduating from Leiden, she spent a few years as visiting Graduate Student in the Department for German and Romance and Literatures at The Johns Hopkins University. Currently, she is preparing her dissertation manuscript for publication in Brill’s “Literary Modernism Book Series.”

Eugenia Biavati

Abstract:
Resisting narrative patterns: the transgressive power of Terry Pratchett’s parody

Parody only works if the audience knows what is being parodied in the first place. In other words, parody can only work if there are already expectations of how the narrative will go. So, when a dragon attacks the city of Ankh-Morpork in Terry Pratchett’s ‘Guards! Guards!’ both the readers and characters await the hero who will come forth to save the day, recognisable as such by a crown-shaped birthmark and the heroic sword he is carrying. Pratchett introduces such a hero, and then has the dragon incinerate him on the spot and proclaim itself king instead.

Pratchett sets up the scene according to conventional standardised narrative patterns, before disrupting them through parody. He draws attention to our expectations, challenges our assumptions, and questions the boundaries that regulate the centre of the genre and gatekeep its margins. He first uses the transgressive power of parody to highlight and subvert, then he offers an alternative, turning the attention of the readers towards other narratives, other heroes.

Using both Attebery’s ‘fuzzy sets’ and Prototype Theory I argue that parody is essential to the fantasy genre. It can help it flourish by turning away from the centre and looking at marginal narratives instead. It tackles issues of story-making as well as representation and diversity, challenging what is too-often perceived as the standard and therefore the true and only form fantasy can take.

Parody is a liminal force, it depends on the centre of the genre in order to work but takes the narrative spotlight away from it. Terry Pratchett’s parody operates on that ‘consensus fantasy universe’ and its transgressive force sweeps the entire genre by showing, questioning, and ultimately breaking its boundaries and expanding its margins.

Bio:
I am doing my PhD at King’s College London with a project on Parody in Medievalist Fantasy. Before this I had just as much fun doing an MA in Medieval Studies, with a dissertation on the medieval in the Marvel Universe, and a BA in Foreign Languages and Literature, which in turn ended with a dissertation on why fantasy dragons started talking. I was asked once why we should read fantasy and decided to make a career out of explaining why. In my spare time I can be found talking about Lancelot to any unsuspecting passerby.

Fergus Attlee and James Lowder

Abstract:
Fantastic Interdisciplinarity: Two Human Geographers on Makoto Shinkai’s Voices of a Distant Star and Your Name.

The last several decades has seen the field of Human geography develop a notable interest in both film (Cresswell and Dixon, 2002) and, to a lesser extent, speculative fiction (Kitchen and Kneale, 2001). Despite this, engagements with fantasy remain on the periphery of the discipline and work on fantasy film is especially rare. By foregrounding work at the margins of Human geography, this paper draws attention to the specific ways that the fantastic can be utilised across disciplines to provide valuable interdisciplinary insights. This is done through two case studies concerning the animated films of Japanese director Makoto Shinkai. The first engagement examines Voices of a Distant Star (2002), a short film about two teenage friends, a boy and a girl, who are separated after one of them is sent into space to fight an alien threat. By examining the figure of the mobile phone, used by the characters to communicate across distance, this analysis unpacks the place of technology in the film, highlighting its emotional resonances and transcendental capabilities. The second engagement relates to Your Name (2016), a romantic fantasy film featuring two high school students, a girl from the countryside and a boy from Tokyo, who mysteriously start to swap bodies and must eventually undo the catastrophic impact of a comet. By foregrounding the film’s portrayal of the comet, this analysis examines how Your Name entangles human life with the inhuman rhythms of the Earth and broader cosmos. Alongside their own arguments, both engagements also emphasise shared themes, including the important role of love and connection in Shinkai’s work. Overall, through the work of two Human geographers, this paper highlights the value of fantasy across disciplines, articulating arguments around the place of technology and the inhuman in the films of Makoto Shinkai.

Bio:
James is an interdisciplinary PhD student at the University of Glasgow in the department of Geography and Earth Science. His current work considers the textual analysis of film, the embodied experiences of stargazing and the tracing of falling meteorites.

Fergus is an interdisciplinary PhD student in Geographical and Earth Science at the University of Glasgow. His current research is investigating issues of privacy and consent in relation to geolocational technologies, which are increasingly prevalent across all aspects of life.

Fiona Reid

Abstract:
Beyond the Table and Into the Dungeon: How Neurodivergent and Queer People Explore Identity Through TTRPGs

For most of history, media in all forms has often taken a very heteronormative and neurotypical viewpoint, and in many instances, this is still the case today. Due to this, people who are queer and/or neurodivergent, may struggle to find representation within forms of media such as video games, television, and cinema. Tabletop Roleplaying Games (TTRPGs) provide players with an immersive experience unlike one that more traditional media could provide. Players can control characters’ choices, narratives, and storylines and have influence on themes being touched upon. How do queer and neurodivergent people operate, when they are provided with a fantasy setting in which they themselves set the boundaries and limits they explore?

Many individuals that are part of these marginalised groups find themselves excluded from society for how they act or identify. When given a safe setting in which they can explore this freely, I hypothesise that new opportunities for exploring their identities will arise. It may be that this is through character creation, in-game role play, or through navigating the game more generally. For example, this could mean a queer person exploring their identity by creating a queer character, or an autistic person finding comfort in having the guidelines of TTRPG core rulebooks to help explore who they are through roleplay. All throughout, they are navigating the boundaries that the game sets for them, as well as those they set for themselves.

This paper will discuss the ways in which queer and neurodivergent people develop and explore their own identities through engagement with TTRPGs, with a specific focus on Dungeons and Dragons. Through engagement with methods such as gameplay analysis and group interviews, it explores questions about the relationship between gameplay and identity, particularly in relation to marginalised communities.

Bio:
Fiona Reid is a postgraduate student, currently undertaking a Master by Research in Psychology at Abertay University. Her main research interests explore neurodiversity, sexuality, and gender, often through the lens of nerd culture and with a passion for creative research methods. Her research is often interdisciplinary, engaging with disability studies, queer studies, ludology, and social studies. Having completed an undergraduate degree in Public Sociology studying women with ADHD through photovoice, she is now expanding her research to reflect her interest in games, fantasy, and roleplay.

Francesca Bihet

Abstract:
On the Borders of Fairyland: Science and the Supernatural in Andrew Lang’s That Very Mab and The Chronicles of Pantouflia

Scottish anthropologist and journalist Andrew Lang is best known as editor of the popular Coloured Fairy Book series (1889-1913). However, his fictional works have received less attention, even though they reflect his sometimes contentious opinions regarding the study of magic and folklore. The satire That Very Mab (1885), published with the poet May Kendall, follows exiled fairy queen Mab’s tour of nineteenth-century English society, which is now hostile to the fairy folk’s old ways. The volume explores the boundaries between science and supernatural. In one incident, Mab is captured by a scientist, treated like a butterfly specimen, and categorised. When his son starts worshiping the fairy, the scientist proclaims to have discovered the origin of religion. This is a moment of self-satire for anthropologist Lang, who previously published Custom and Myth (1884). Reflecting the common folkloric theme of fairies forever retreating, Mab flees to safety in the Admiralty Islands, just outside the realms of the British Empire.

Similarly, Lang’s Pantouflia stories address issues traversing the borders of fairy tales and rational enlightenment thinking. Prince Prigio (1889), Prince Ricardo (1893), and the Tales of a Fairy Court (1907) burlesque the courtly fairy tale. Prigio begins with the traditional theme of fairies presiding over a royal Christening, with one fairy cursing Prigio to be too clever. Prigio grows up too rational to believe in fairy magic, even though it surrounds him. However, eventually converted to fairy belief, Prigio raises his son Ricardo on an excess of fairy magic. Conversely, Ricardo merely uses fairy gifts like machines to complete his quests, losing all gallantry in the process. Like Victorian consumerist devices, magic fairy gifts are rendered as tools to complete tasks. In these texts Lang reflects on the fairies’ cultural position and demotion to the nursery in the face of nineteenth-century modernity.

Bio:
Francesca Bihet is an independent scholar who completed her PhD at the University of Chichester in 2020. Her thesis Folklore and Fairies: the History of Fairies in the Folklore Society from 1878 to 1945 explored the changes in the academic treatment of fairies by Folklore Society members over this period and how far these reflect wider folkloric and cultural trends. Among other articles, she has published the chapters ‘Pouques and the Faiteaux: The Channel Islands’, in Magical Folk (2018), and ‘Death and the Fairy: Hidden Gardens and the Haunting of Childhood’, in EcoGothic Gardens in the Long Nineteenth Century (2020).

Hannah Mimiec

Abstract:
Won’t Somebody Think of the Children! Liminal Fantasy and Biopower in Hope Mirrlees’s ‘Lud-In-The-Mist’

As a liminal fantasy, Lud-in-the-Mist plays with the boundary between text and reader. The reader is required to take an active role in constructing and interpreting the fantastic elements of the text. This happens when they are able to recognise the existence of Fairyland and its fruit, while the characters refuse to acknowledge it.

This paper explores the ways in which concepts of liminal fantasy and biopower can be used in concert, through textual analysis of Lud-in-the-Mist. Biopower is concerned with human beings existing as a species that can be made the ‘object of a political strategy’(1). In this system human beings are viewed as something closer to machines that can be acted upon to produce desired outputs. The society of Dorimare is deeply concerned with the bodies of its citizens. The main conflict of the novel arises from the proliferation of ‘fairy fruit’ and its invasion into the children of Lud. The consumption of fairy fruit and disappearance into fairyland represents a transgression of the political strategy of Lud when it takes the children away from their schools. This threat to society is not rectified through the senators and law men of Lud, who serve as a source of humour. Peace is only restored when the disciplinary institutions of the schools, senate, and language of Lud are transgressed and the population is reconciled with their fairy heritage.

Reading Lud-In-The-Mist, and other liminal fantasies, through the lens of biopower opens up potentially new readings of the ways in which state infrastructure and disciplinary institutions can control the boundaries between domination and freedom within fantasy works. As well as the possibilities for their transgression.

(1)Foucault, Security, Territory, Population: Lectures at the Collège De France, 1977-78 ed. by Michel Senellart trans. by Graham Burchell (Hampshire: Palgrave Macmillian 2007 [1977-78]) p. 1

Bio:
Hannah Mimiec is a Masters student on the University of Glasgow’s Fantasy MLitt program. They previously completed a degree in Scots Law and English Literature at Glasgow. Their research interests lie within the interaction between fantasy and economics, specifically political economy and feminist theories of work, as well as with the mechanics of tabletop roleplaying games. Hannah is the MLitt liaison on this year’s GIFCon committee and is currently playing far too much D&D and Cyberpunk Red in their spare time.

Isabelle Hanshue

Abstract:
From Prisoner to King: Entrapment and Escape Through the Fantastic in Susanna Clarke’s Novels

Susanna Clarke’s novels, Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell and Piranesi, depict the exploitation of marginalized people through magical systems and imprisoned in a fantastical ‘Other World.’ This paper explores the ways in which Clarke’s marginalized characters, specifically Stephen Black and Piranesi, in Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell and Piranesi subvert power structures and free themselves from their captors as expressed in the liminal fantasy realms in which they reside. Both characters experience an involuntary thresh-hold crossing into another world and are exploited by captors learned in magic for the sake of power or knowledge. However, both Stephen and Piranesi are able to free themselves and transgress the systems they were marginalized by through the knowledge and/or power they gain from the fantasy worlds they have been imprisoned in. This paper will draw upon Farah Mendelsohn’s definitions of portal and liminal fantasies to explore how the fantasy worlds in these two novels are used by characters to both support exploitative systems and to transgress against them.

Bio:
Isabelle Hanshue (she/her) is an Mlitt student studying Fantasy Literature at the University of Glasgow. Her research interests include Gothic Literature, Romantic Literature, media studies, and Medievalism. She is currently planning a research project focusing upon marginalized identities and the history of vampires in media. In her free time, she enjoys reading Neil Gaiman and Mary Shelley novels and watching horror films. She also enjoys learning languages and is currently learning Romanian.

Jamie MacGregor

Abstract:
Now with more blood, guts, and gore!: Horror Cinema in the Wake of Covid-19

Horror is a genre that has always been in conversation with the society that it is created in, and is often directly influenced by it. With this in mind, I would like to question how the global Covid-19 pandemic has impacted horror already, and what changes we may see going forward.

Since its inception, the horror genre has been questioning and transgressing boundaries in order to provoke a reaction from the audience. It is this breaking of boundaries, along with the often taboo subject matter that the horror genre deals with, that has resulted in the genre being subject to moral panic and censorship. Horror gives audiences a controlled environment in which to experience fear and other extreme emotions without any real life consequences.

In an article for Fangoria, Zoe Rose Smith notes that 2022 saw a considerable rise in the popularity of movies labelled ‘extreme horror’ — a sub-genre of horror that refers to movies that include an excessive use of violence and sexual content. These types of movies are generally considered too ‘extreme’ for mainstream audiences, often resulting in them having a small release and being harder to locate. Aaron Michael Kerner (2016) identifies a similar demand for extreme horror that emerged in the wake of 9/11 with the rise of the ‘torture-porn’ sub-genre. He argues that the war on terror and collective trauma experienced by Americans was instrumental in the development of the genre. As reality itself becomes more horrific, horror films are forced to become more extreme and push more boundaries to provoke their audience. By comparing Terrifier (2016) to Terrifier 2 (2022), and Hellraiser (1987) to the 2022 remake, I will argue that we are already seeing mainstream horror movies become more extreme as a result of the global trauma of Covid-19.

Bio:
Jamie MacGregor (they/them) completed their MLitt in English Literature at the University of Glasgow. Their Masters dissertation was about Creative Destruction and Transness in Bryan Fuller’s Hannibal (2013-2015), and they hope to continue this research in a PhD focusing on transness and the horror genre. Jamie has varied research interests depending on when you ask them, but they are primarily interested in the horror genre across media, queer and trans theory, fan studies, gothic studies, the uncanny, medical humanities, and the overlap of philosophy and media. They can currently be found stressing about PhD applications and cuddling their dog.

Katarina Dulude

Abstract:
To Refuse What Has Been Refused to You: Depictions of the Undercommons in the Future Imaginaries of Arcane and Babel

Both released within the past year, the novel Babel, Or the Necessity of Violence: An Arcane History of the Oxford Translators’ Revolution by R.F. Kuang and the television series Arcane share many commonalities despite possessing very different premises. Namely, they depict societies that are revolutionized by fantastical energy advancements through forms of magic. These technologies benefit the very wealthy but are created at the expense of those on the margins of society. While the boundaries in these texts are largely social, in the case of Arcane, there is visual depiction through the wealthy of Piltover living on the ‘topside’ of the bridge, while the city’s poor inhabitants live in the polluted ‘Undercity.’

The texts feature themes of the undercommons as described by Fred Moten and Stefano Harney. The Hermes Society of Babel and the Firelights of Arcane function as secret groups that choose intentionally to live on the margins, outside of the boundaries drawn by the ruling elite, the British Empire and Piltover respectively. In doing so, they are able to enact social change and transgress upon society’s boundaries by rejecting being a part of them at all.

Through comparative analysis, this paper explores the similarities and differences between these two fictional depictions of the undercommons and how they demonstrate a need for social change based in our present, existing as much as future imaginaries as they do fantastical tales. Though The Undercommons was published nearly a decade ago, its relevance persists; Timothy Lyle, for example, noted the urgency to join the undercommons in a CLA Journal article in 2021. This renewed urgency and along with the surging popularity of texts like Babel and Arcane demonstrate the ways in which fantasy reflects our current sociopolitical state and demonstrates the need for change.

Bio:
Katarina Dulude is a current Fantasy MLitt student at the University of Glasgow. She is interested in modern fantasy and animation, eco-criticism and queer ecologies, feminist studies, Marxism, and popular culture. She has three previous publications including her undergraduate thesis “Mad Men, Troubled Mothers, and Scarred Children: Representations of Parent-Child Trauma in Mad Men” and two other articles both published by Johns Hopkins University. She also enjoys acting and photography, adores cats, speaks three languages, and has an undying obsession with She-Ra and the Princesses of Power.

Lizao Hu

Abstract:
Fantasy as crossover carnival: Transgressing boundaries in Aaron Becker’s wordless picturebook trilogy

Putting child characters at the centre, fantasy for children in various forms allows experimentation with children’s position in the world and navigation of space between childhood and adulthood. Situating adult characters in child-initiated adventures, fantasy for dual readership extends the intergenerational interactions and offers possibilities of reconstructing adult-child relations. Drawn from Nikolajeva’s (2010) application of carnival theory to children’s literature and Beckett’s (2017) conceptualization of crossover picturebooks, this article takes fantasy as crossover carnival and investigates how fantasy may empower ordinary children or/and adults in Aaron Becker’s trilogy, enclosing wordless picturebooks “Journey” (2013), “Quest” (2014), and “Return” (2016). With reference to Painter et al.’s (2012) strategies of reading visuals, it incorporates the analysis of compositional meanings of fantasy worldbuilding, ideational meanings of character representations, and particularly interpersonal meanings of power realisation. The selected wordless narratives demonstrate fantasy’s empowerment of marginalised children and fantasy’s liberation of the adult who is fully occupied by work through threshold-crossing to a magical realm, obtaining heroic traits, and possessing magical agency. Such empowerment and liberation could only be achieved under certain conditions and for a limited time, as fantasy worldbuilding retains the real order of the world, and characters’ physical dislocation to the real world is temporary. This study further illustrates the perception that fantasy is not as opposed to realism. The healing power of crossover fantasy to cross-generational relations is inherently permanent and can transgress the boundaries between fantasy and reality.

Bio:
Lizao Hu holds an MEd in Children’s Literature and Literacies offered by the University of Glasgow. She is currently pursuing her Ph.D. degree in Literary Studies (English) at the University of Macau. She is interested in inquiring about ecological, multicultural, and power issues in children’s literature as well as multimodality in children’s picturebooks.

Louise Marchel

Abstract:
Revolution or Fantastic Dream? The Importance of William Morris’ ‘News from Nowhere’ in the Psychedelic Creative Landscape of 1960s London.

‘News From Nowhere’ is William Morris’ utopian vision of a future which expounds the social, political, creative, and aesthetic ideals of the nineteenth-century visionary. The tale tells of the time travel of William Guest with whom the reader journeys from 1890s Britain to a future approximation of London and a journey up the Thames. Guest witnesses a society revolutionised in the 1960s where a characteristic retrieval of a medieval aesthetic is enjoyed in a reforested landscape with relaxed social rules and the absence of any monetary currency.

Utilising visual and textual material from my recent PhD research (The Transcendental Aesthetic – Nineteenth Century Revivals in the 1960s) this paper will explore the distinct resonances between Morris’ text and events in the 1960s and the potential role of the novel as a catalyst in social and creative change. In reaction to the streamlined designs and consumerism of the early 1960s, key counter-cultural movements later in the decade simultaneously pushed new boundaries in social freedoms and behaviours whilst adopting older forms of representation and a sense of self-definition much akin to Morris’ vision. While designers such as Mary Quant and John Pearse adopted the designs of Morris for their clothing, creative collectives such as ‘Hapshash and the Coloured Coat’ and ‘The Fool’ (cf medieval designs for The Beatles’ Apple Boutique where payment was elective) adopted interdisciplinary creative practices where visual and lyrical imageries merged. As boundaries of fantasy and reality blurred in the wake of new psychedelic drugs, so too did many social / creative norms and the paper will explore the role of Morris and his c20th readers in creating a liminal space for transcendence and/or revolution, firstly in the imagined world of the text and secondly in inspiring influential artists, writers, and designers to attempt to realise something of Morris’ ideal.

Bio:
Louise Marchal is a visual artist and writer and is currently a practice-based PhD researcher at the School of Fine Art, History of Art and Cultural Studies at the University of Leeds. Research for her biography of the sculptor Frances Darlington led her to re-evaluate the perception of romantic nineteenth-century imagery as received through its revivals in the late 1960s, and this informed her PhD topic which queries the articulation of psychedelic or meditative transcendence through such imageries. Louise graduated from the University of Glasgow in 1995 with an Honours degree in English Literature.

Luise Rössel

Abstract:
Crossing the lake – The land of the dead, resurrection, and Jesus in Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials

Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy (1995-2000) examines boundaries and margins in numerous ways. For example, protagonists Lyra and Will both move in the margins of their societies, while being confronted with the physical and mental boundaries between childhood and adulthood and the liminal space in-between, adolescence. Furthermore, the whole trilogy revolves around the crossings between countless parallel worlds, including a knife cutting through reality/dimensions.

One of the most unique and fascinating border-crossings in the trilogy, however, is Lyra and Will’s journey to the world of the dead. This late episode is rich with liminal and marginal spaces, as well as metaphorical and literal breaches of boundaries and borders: e.g. the suburbs of the dead, port of transit, and holding areas; personal Deaths hiding in the margins of vision; existential questions about “truth/reality” vs. “lies/fantasy” raised by the Harpies; the crossing of a lake to the land of the dead, including the painful disjunction of the bond between soul/dæmon and body/human.

It has been acknowledged that Lyra and Will function as Eve and Adam figures, through whom Pullman attempts to re-tell (and redeem) the Christian Fall myth (e.g. Tóth; Dickerson and O’Hara). The literature on the trilogy, however, stays remarkably silent on another biblical figure: Jesus Christ. Occasionally, his absence from the trilogy is proclaimed and Pat Pinsent even goes as far as attesting it “a Christ-shaped hole” (30). However, acknowledging the presence of a Jesus figure in the trilogy would give the story a whole new religious dimension.

Thus, this paper will examine Lyra and Will’s ultimate border-crossing to the land of the dead (and the following resurrection/s) in more detail and will argue that Lyra and Will together are Jesus-figure/s who die and walk between the worlds in order to redeem the dead and liberate their souls.

Bio:
Luise Rössel is a current PhD student in English Literature at the University of Glasgow. She is writing about fantasy literature from around the millennial change with religious elements, mostly from Revelation and Genesis. She obtained an MLitt in Fantasy Literature from the University of Glasgow (2019) and an MPhil in Children’s Literature from Trinity College, Dublin (2018). She did her BA degree in Literary Theory and Comparative Literature, as well as Philosophy, at the Ludwig-Maximilians- Universität, Munich.

M. Caroline McCaulay

Abstract:
“The Childbed is Our Battlefield”: Examining Depictions of Childbirth in Contemporary Fantasy

Pregnancy has often casually been called a “magical time” in women’s lives. However, fantasy media has frequently portrayed pregnancy and childbirth as a traumatic, and often deadly, experience for women. This vision of childbirth recently resurged in the public’s attention with the 2022 premiere episode of HBO’s House of Dragons, in which a highly reported upon scene involving a forced caesarean delivery ends in the death of the mother. As she tells her daughter, “The childbed is our battlefield.”

This paper takes a critical eye to birth scenes in fantasy media, specifically examining texts which are also regarded as empowering to its female identifying characters. The central question of the paper asks how fantasy’s often impossible depictions of birth might affect reader’s perceptions of the reality of childbirth. Are these scenes empowering or frightening? Can there be a definitive line between fantasy and reality in depictions of childbirth? When is a border between realism and fantasy crossed? Is the brutality of some fantastic birth scenes warranted, given the maternal mortality rate of women worldwide?

The texts examined include a fairy-led, magical birth scene in Robin McKinley’s Spindle’s End, the horrifying birth of the Minotaur in Madeline Miller’s Circe, and the multiple depictions of traumatic births in the HBO series House of the Dragon.

Bio:
M. Caroline McCaulay is a writer and scholar from Carmel, Indiana, USA. She earned her MFA in Creative Writing (Fiction) at Indiana University and is currently a PhD candidate in Creative Writing at the University of Southern Mississippi. She frequently writes fiction about sisterhood, Hollywood, and mental health – but also about sorority girl werewolves and pregnant cows. Her creative work can be found in Boudin, the online home of The McNeese Review. Her scholarship focuses on depictions of motherhood and female empowerment in literature. Her scholarship has most recently been presented at the Center for Faulkner Studies at Southeast Missouri State University.

Madalena Daleziou

Abstract:
Threshold Crossing and Deconstructed Portals in Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials and Laini Taylor’s Daughter of Smoke and Bone.

In Rhetorics of Fantasy, Farah Mendlesohn defines portal fantasy as ‘a fantastic world entered through a portal’ and argues that in this type ‘the fantastic […] does not “leak.” Although individuals may cross both ways, the magic does not’ (xix). Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials is an exception that blurs the boundaries between reality and the fantastic and features an intrusion in the form of the consciousness-consuming Spectres. A similar motif is present in Laini Taylor’s YA trilogy, Daughter of Smoke and Bone, whereby Karou, a human living in Prague, is raised by human-monster hybrids whose house is a portal between the human world and the fantastic Eretz. DoSaB displays portal-quest elements, with a relatively clueless Karou entering Eretz through a magical threshold. Yet, this trilogy is not a clear-cut example of portal fantasy either, as intrusions also feature prominently. While portals are integral plot points in both trilogies, their use requires sacrifices to save the universes connected by them.

This paper studies portals as thresholds in HDM and DoSaB to examine attitudes regarding maturity and personal responsibility in YA fantasy. The trilogies’ starting points both involve threshold-crossing yet move away from earlier children’s and YA fantasy traditions, with their clear entrance of an innocent main character into the fantastic and equally clear return to ‘nonfantastic normality’ as analysed by Catherine Butler. Instead, the main characters enter the portals later, after painful experiences, and the fantastic remains in their lives after forgoing portals, moving away from boundaries often encountered in earlier works. Moreover, the featured intrusions emphasize the cost of portals in both trilogies, revealing shifting attitudes permeating contemporary YA fantasy, with both trilogies granting their young main characters agency, recognising their ability to destroy, but also to mend their worlds.

Bio:
Madalena Daleziou obtained her undergraduate degree in English Literature from the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens. She then studied the Fantasy MLitt at the University of Glasgow. Her research interests include Children’s and YA fantasy, anime and manga, animals studies in fantasy, and dystopian literature. Madalena is a speculative fiction author whose short fiction and poetry has appeared in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, The Deadlands, and other venues. She is the Social Media Officer of the Centre for Fantasy and the Fantastic.

Madeleine Sinclair

Abstract:
Fantastical Subjectivity in Rana Dasgupta’s Twenty-First Century Folktales

This paper examines the politics of fantastic irrealism in selected short stories from Rana Dasgupta’s twenty-first century collection Tokyo Cancelled (2005), an “experiment in storytelling”, which revitalises the “old wisdom” of folktales in order to register both the “giant forces of modernity” and the “exquisite minutia of personal experience” in a hyperconnected world (Dasgupta 2006, 13-15). For Dasgupta, folkloric forms mediate in fantastical terms a world of irreal “transformations” linked directly to “global forces” (Dasgupta and Elborough 2006, 6). This paper focuses specifically on Dasgupta’s portrayal of fantastical subjectivities, showing how the contemporary folktales collected in Tokyo Cancelled attend to the reconfiguration of selfhood in an era of accelerated neoliberal globalisation. Applying a method of world literary comparativism, the paper presents close readings of folktales including “The Memory Editor”, “The Billionaire’s Sleep” and “The Recycler of Dreams”, examining Dasgupta’s folkloric depiction of the colonization of subjectivity by neoliberal contemporaneity. More broadly, the paper considers Dasgupta’s re-invigoration of archaic forms of folk orality as a tool for challenging hegemony in the contemporary world.

Works cited:

Dasgupta, Rana. 2006. “Writing Tokyo Cancelled.” In Tokyo Cancelled. London: Harper Perennial.

Dasgupta, Rana, and Travis Elborough. 2006. “Global Enchantment: Travis Elborough Talks to Rana Dasgupta.” In Tokyo Cancelled. London: Harper Perennial.

Bio:
Madeleine Sinclair is an English and Comparative Literature PhD student and Wolfson Scholar at University of Warwick, UK. Her thesis focuses on the interconnections between aesthetics, politics and ecology in the twenty-first century short story-cycle.

Madeline Wahl

Abstract:
Who Is Allowed To Cast Spells?: Stuttering, Fluency, And Spellcasting In The Harry Potter Series

Stuttering, as defined by The Stuttering Foundation, is “a communication disorder in which the flow of speech is broken by repetitions (li-li-like this), prolongations (lllllike this), or abnormal stoppages (no sound) of sounds and syllables.” In the Harry Potter series, witches and wizards cast spells predominantly by speaking words out loud. This paper will explore boundaries in magic systems, specifically the boundary between fluent and disfluent spellcasters in the Harry Potter series, and draw attention to what’s missing in current research. Through close reading and textual analysis of the Harry Potter texts, I will compare and contrast how fluent people speak spells to the stuttering of Professor Quirrell. Because Professor Quirrell impersonated having a stutter, he does not need to worry about disfluency when casting spells. But people who have speech impediments do not have that luxury. 

This paper will acknowledge that magic in the Harry Potter series can do many wondrous things, including regrowing bones. However, because Professor Quirrell was able to convincingly impersonate someone who stutters, this implies that speech impediments still exist in the Muggle world and the wizarding world. This shows that speech impediments have not been eliminated by magic. Thus, instead of looking for ways to eliminate speech impediments using magic, this paper will also focus on spellcasting accessibility and what that could look like in fantasy texts. Furthermore, this paper will then explore the difficulty of casting nonverbal spells in the Harry Potter series and deconstruct the negative stereotypes of stuttering in fantasy spellcasting contexts. Finally, it will be acknowledged that there is ample room for disability awareness and accessibility in children’s fantasy literature.

Bio:
Madeline Wahl is a postgraduate student pursuing an MLitt in Fantasy Literature at the University of Glasgow in Scotland. Previously, she has held editorial positions at Reader’s Digest, HuffPost, and Golf Channel. She was a speaker at the Australian Speak Easy Association’s online 2020 conference and has previously written about stuttering for The Stuttering Foundation. She holds a BA in Advertising/Public Relations with a minor in Psychology and a minor in English-Writing from the University of Central Florida. She is working on her first novel in YA Fantasy and her first nonfiction book proposal on millennial caregiving.

Maggie White

Abstract:
Challenging Energy Exuberance through Epic Fantasy: A Study of N.K. Jemisin’s The Broken Earth trilogy

This paper examines the embedded energy unconscious of N.K. Jemisin’s The Broken Earth trilogy, parsing the author’s tonal depictions of energy usage alongside Frederick Buell’s 2012 essay “A Short History of Oil Cultures: or The Marriage of Exuberance and Catastrophe”. Investigating areas of “catastrophic” and “exuberant” energy exertion in the text, this paper begins by outlining the dominant oil culture in America and questioning whether epic fantasy authors—even as they construct works of petrofiction—are truly able to escape the clutches of this hegemonic perception of energy in the U.S. Positioning catastrophe as inextricably linked to depictions of oppressed magical and non-magical bodies in this trilogy, this paper ultimately outlines how Jemisin subverts the dominant American oil unconscious. I demonstrate through close reading how she textually saddles exuberance to infrastructural access and agency as well as characterizes exuberance as an inadequate tool for repairing energy-based damage. With this popular work as a case study, this presentation suggests that epic fantasy is a fruitful avenue through which to refigure the contemporary energy crisis. In exploring Jemisin’s success in creating a work of radical petrofiction, this presentation also exemplifies vital energy humanities tools for interpreting energy themes in epic fantasy–particularly concerning Max Black’s “interaction view of metaphor” and the detection of exuberance and catastrophe in texts. Finally, this paper gestures toward a progressive and energy-aware texture emerging in contemporary American epic fantasy with the growth of BIPOC-created secondary worlds. Through her work of epic petro-fantasy, Jemisin simultaneously pushes against the classically exuberant characteristics of both epic fantasy and systemic perceptions of oil in the U.S., questioning the belief that carbon consumption is a productive force across racial and socio-economic lines. This paper is an adaptation of chapter two of my MLitt Fantasy dissertation from the University of Glasgow.

Bio:
Maggie White (she/her) received her undergraduate degree from Davidson College and holds an MLitt in Fantasy Literature from the University of Glasgow. Her research interests include the energy humanities, speculative/fantastical fiction, Victorian fiction, improv and literature, posthumanism, and worldbuilding. Maggie’s core research aim is to further an understanding of speculative literature’s cultural impact, focusing largely on its role in transformative depictions of global energy dependencies and the climate crisis at large. Maggie currently lives in Mississippi with her partner, David, and her dog, Dolly.

Mark Hines

Abstract:
Stats and Soil: Race and Homeland in Fantastic Worlds

This work focuses on a persistent trope of racial worldbuilding in fantastic worlds. Nominally, such worlds operate on the premise that vastly different possibilities from our current world exist and are commonplace. However, in reality, such settings often traffic in pseudoscientific race “realism.” Built upon ahistorical notions of medieval cultures, in which nascent nation-states were racially and ethnically homogenous, racial segregation in fantastic worlds is a common and oft-neglected trope. From Middle Earth, to Skyrim, to the Forgotten Realms, fantasy settings tend to define a people by the land they occupy and the borders over which they control. Elves, Dwarves, Humans, and Orcs are associated with various topographies, blurring the line between land and people. Indeed, this trope often aligns with White supremacist ideologies which link race, place, homeland, culture, language , and civilization as synonymous and interlinked. Many worldbuilders of fantastic settings would have us believe that land and soil are deterministic and impermeable factors in the reproduction of race, language, and culture. Most contemporary audiences will associate this trope with Tolkien’s Elves, Dwarves, and Halflings, and I will briefly touch on its reproduction over time. However, in addition to the print and media in which fantasy races are correspondingly linked to the ecosystems in which they live, virtual and analog roleplaying games embolden and further the trope in a way that scholarship hasn’t fully appreciated. This work analyzes this narrative shorthand across various artforms before examining its unique permutation in analog gaming. Then, the trope of racial bioessentialism in nation or statecraft will be compared to the rhetoric of White nationalists, especially in the context of comparisons to medievalisms, accurate or not.

Bio:
Mark Hines is a PhD student in the University of Kentucky’ English Department. He is interested in the fantastic and the speculative in gaming, broadly. In particular, he examines how political and racist discourse from our world becomes shifted and blurred through representation in gaming. For speculative worlds that consistently ask “What is possible?,” he wonders why the representations of race, gender, and political dominance so often echo those of our own.

Mars Nicoli

Abstract:
The Sex of Angels: Nonbinary readings of otherworldly creatures in Supernatural (2005-2020) and Good Omens (2019-)

The “Sex of Angels”, or otherwise gendered understandings of otherworldly beings, is an age-old theological question. Fantasy media has interpreted and portrayed it in many ways, from the more traditional elucubrations of Philip Pullman’s The Amber Spyglass (2000) to Janet’s catchphrase “Not a girl!” in The Good Place (2016-2020). In a society that is becoming increasingly more aware of gender variances beyond the binary, the nonbinary potential of these creatures has been praised for offering representation organically but also criticised for the innate othering that comes from presenting genderlessness as a non-human feature.

This paper explores nonbinary fans’ (re)interpretations of tv angels and demons to navigate their own gender identity and/or expression. Transformative online fandom spaces are socially engineered as private, thus providing a safe space for fans to express their own queer, gender-diverse identities through storytelling.

This analysis will be done through two case studies with a widely queer fanbase – Supernatural (2005 – 2020) and Good Omens (2019-).

As a fandom born of the mid-naughts but still rather popular due to the show’s longevity, Supernatural is the ideal starting point to understand how fandom sentiments around gender representation may have shifted through the years. For instance, looking at its role in the development of widespread fandom tropes around gender dynamics such as Omegaverse.

As a more recent example, Good Omens more openly challenges assumptions about gender and has a large community of trans fan. This fandom has produced work which deconstructs gender into individual signifiers that are mixed and matched to best represent the journey, experience and sensibility of the fan artist creating it.

This analysis looks at what trans fans have to say about the gender of otherworldly creatures, as well as considering what textual elements of these shows especially appeal to said fans.

Bio:
Mars Nicoli – pronouns he/him – is a PhD student in Media and GTA at Sheffield Hallam University researching transgender representation, viewership and authorship of horror. He is also interested in fan studies and specifically in fandom as a place of queer self-discovery. His Master’s thesis in Film looked at the degendering of pregnancy in Good Omens fanfiction. His work is committed to centring marginalised voices and talking with rather than about people: nothing about us without us.

Megan Stephens

Abstract:
The borders of power: Superheroes and disability

Disability and superheroes may appear at first glance to be antithetical. The figure of the superhero, which as Vincent M. Gaine argues is ‘ostensibly a power fantasy’ (7), is continually aligned with strength and dominance, the centrepiece of a genre which ‘takes vigorous and potent bodies as a given’ (Alaniz 11). However, there are in fact several superhero characters in contemporary film and television with disabilities or severe health conditions, and if this seems surprising it supports David Mitchell and Sharon Snyder’s assertion that cultural representations of disability are prolific but go largely unnoticed by audiences (225). Mitchell and Snyder introduce a framework of ‘narrative prosthesis’, arguing that many narratives rely on disability to differentiate a central character ‘from the anonymous background of the “norm”’ (222), but that after this initial interest has been sparked, disability is often overlooked or even subject to ‘an obliteration of the difference through a “cure”’ (227).

The “curing” of disability is often literalised in superhero narratives through the gaining of superpowers (for example in the case of Captain America). However, there are occasions where disability and superpowers are allowed to coexist, including Daredevil (who is visually impaired but whose other senses are supernaturally heightened) and Professor X (who is a wheelchair user with telekinetic powers). This paper will examine these cases, exploring how superpowers and disability interact in forming these characters’ identities. In particular, it will question whether these examples can be seen as a challenge to the standard ‘vigorous and potent bodies’ of the genre or whether the addition of superpowers includes those with disabilities within this category without challenging its right to be held as the norm.

Bio:
Megan Stephens (she/her) is a PhD candidate in the School of English at the University of Sheffield, funded by the AHRC through the White Rose Consortium. She is researching death and grievability in contemporary fantastic film and television, exploring how the implicit cultural valuing of different types of characters is often betrayed at and confirmed by their moment of death. She is an Associate Editor at Mapping the Impossible: Journal for Fantasy Research.

Mercury Natis

Abstract:
“And its Folks are Queerer”: Queer Marginality and the Chosen Family Dynamics of the Bagginses of Bag-End

Since the 1960s, Queer has evolved from a vague, multivalent term denoting various degrees of strangeness to a signifier of the identity politics movement, in which the term has been reclaimed as a means towards demanding representation, rights and respect from the margins of heternormative society. To be Queer in the 21st century is to exist in a state of direct confrontation against the established norms of society, but the meaning of Queer has not changed, though it has narrowed and become popularized. Though the language to describe members of the LGBTQ+ community has evolved over time, to be Queer folk has always been, at its foundations, a process of being forced into the margins of society by cultural heternormativity. It is in this forced marginality that the concept of “Found Family” has become intrinsic to the Queer community. It is through “Found Family” that people who have become alienated from their biological families, and society at large, find joy, love, acceptance and companionship in a hostile and difficult world.

Though J.R.R. Tolkien may not have been intending to create such a dynamic in The Lord of the Rings, the Bagginses of Bag-End exemplify this “Found Family” dynamic. This paper will explore the features of both Bilbo and Frodo as folk in the margins of their community, which contribute to their home being considered “a queer place, and its folk are queerer”, and how this dynamic is applicable to the 20th-century queer experience. The paper will then consider why Tolkien wrote the Bagginses in this manner, and how the universal themes of Love and Fellowship may have resonated through “Found Family” to an English Catholic who lost much of his own biological family at a young age.

Bio:
Mercury Natis (they/them) is a student of Imaginative Literature at Signum University, focusing on Tolkien Studies and Queer Theory. They hold a previous MA in Museum Education and a BA in Art History. Their primary focus is on queer resonances in interwar fantasy, in the pre-identity politics age of ambiguity and disruption. They have previously presented at Oxonmoot on the similarities between Tolkien’s perspective on fantasy and Sontag’s essay on Camp, and are currently preparing a paper for publication on T.H. White’s The Once and Future King as a work of Camp art.

Nathaniel Harrington

Abstract:
“síneadh eile lenár dtraidisiún scéalaíochta”: Fantasy and “Celtic” tradition

In this paper, I explore the relationship between genre fantasy and the “traditional” literatures — both premodern and modern — of Celtic-language communities, which have for more than two hundred years been used (and misused) by writers of fantasy and related genres in dominant languges. Rather than approaching this question through an analysis of dominant-language texts, however, I want to approach it, instead, through modern Celtic-language literatures. I focus in this paper on Darach Ó Scolaí’s Táin Bó Cuailnge (2017) and Fionnlagh MacLeòid’s Gormshuil an Rìgh (2010). Ó Scolaí’s preface describes his work, a modern Irish-language version of the best-known medieval Gaelic narrative, as “síneadh eile lenár dtraidisiún scéalaíochta” [another extension of our narrative tradition] (2017, 7), and MacLeòid’s novel mimics both the form and style of a Scottish Gaelic oral narrative. My central questions are: can we read these texts as fantasy, and what does it mean for us to do so?

I consider two aspects of these texts in particular: their relation to “traditional” narrative forms (the medieval hero-tale, the modern oral folktale) and their relationship to modern literary forms (the novel, genre fantasy). How do these two texts situate themselves — formally, stylistically, paratextually, and contextually — in relation to the “Celtic” traditions they draw on? How, conversely, are they situated, whether intentionally or simply by virtue of being produced and read in the twenty-first century, in relation to the novel form, and to the fantasy genre in particular? What differentiates these texts from so-called “Celtic fantasy” in dominant languages? How might these texts — and other examples of the growing body of fantasy in the modern Celtic languages — enable us to think in new ways about dominant-language Celtic fantasy and its complex and often problematic relationship to Celtic-language communities in the present?

Bio:
Nathaniel Harrington received his Ph.D. in comparative literature from the University of Toronto. His dissertation looked at the representations of reading in and real-world reading practices for fantasy and science fiction in Scottish Gaelic and English. His current projects consider the relationship between language death and speculative fiction and the development of (quote-unquote) “Celtic fantasy”. His other interests include Anne McCaffrey’s Dragonriders of Pern, contemporary denied-language poetics, Gaelic literary history, and meeting new cats.

Parvathy R.

Abstract:
The Cracks Within: Liminality and Hero-making in Fantasy

Farah Mendlesohn defines liminal fantasy “relies, after all on a knowingness” on the part of both the reader and the characters within the story (Mendlesohn 182). The ambiguity between our expectations of the real and the fantastical is where liminality lies, and where one can experience “what it’s like to have fallen into the crack” (Mendlesohn 183). The chasm of knowingness, or lack thereof, between the real world and the fantastical or between our expectations of genre tropes and narrative structures, all embody that “crack” where the fantastic is experienced.

In a slight departure Mendlesohn’s idea, Gaiman introduces Neverwhere (1996) as a story about “people who fall through the cracks” (Gaiman, iv). In doing so, Gaiman’s perspective shifts liminality away from a representation of the space between worlds to the ambiguity of identity and knowability within a character.

Here, I explore how “heroes” are formed of those who “fall through the cracks”. They are neither of one world nor the other, and embody that crack, chasm, or liminality within themselves. In Neverwhere Richard Mayhew feels like he belongs nowhere, either in his unexciting everyday life or as an outsider in London Below. In Le Guin’s Wizard of Earthsea, the antagonist, the Shadow, is an outward manifestation of the hollowness and not-knowing of the protagonist, Sparrowhawk, himself.

I argue that the gap in knowing, as it plays out within a character in a story, is itself a liminal space where the fantastic becomes possible. To support my argument, I will look at the characters of Richard Mayhew (from Neverwhere), Sparrowhawk (from A Wizard of Earthsea), Sam Vymes (from Terry Pratchett’s Guards! Guards!), and Jonathan Strange (from Suzanna Clarke’s Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell) and explore the different ways each of these characters contain within themselves and embody a fantastical liminal space.

Bio:
I did my MPhil from Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, India, on the non-anthropocentric rhetoric of popular fantasy in the 20th Century. I currently work as a freelance academic editor. My academic interests center around exploring how each instance of rhetoric shapes and questions the enclosing genre or archive, by focusing on fictionality. I also moonlight on Instagram as a dog mom, and part-time selfie enthusiast who maps cities on foot.

Rachel Milne

Abstract:
We’re All Mad Queer: Breaching the Boundaries of Sanity and Sex in Wonderland and Oz

Narratives of difference are immensely popular in children’s literature. The figure of the eternal child in Peter Pan; the talking animals of Narnia; Harry Potter’s whimsical world of witchcraft and wizardry, all involve two crucial elements. What is the use of a book, without alterity and wonder? When burying their nose into a book, one might hope to transcend the everyday, and instead embody various fantastic creatures. One might hope, then, to become something different.

Lewis Carroll’s ‘Alice’ series and L. Frank Baum’s ‘Oz’ series have been read and loved for centuries by children and adults alike. Both have also seen numerous adaptations, from the literary, to musicals, to plays and films. As a result, both are boundary-breaching texts. These ‘external’ boundaries, of readership and medium, are also reflected within the texts themselves: alongside fluidity in language and narrative comes fluidity in representations of various categories of difference.

This paper examines the interconnections between madness and queerness in the ‘Alice’ and ‘Oz’ texts. Various sociological studies have illuminated the socially constructed nature of both sexuality and sanity, but few have examined the crossover between the two, especially in relation to literary representations. Children’s books, which routinely render real-world norms topsy-turvy, are a strong place to start. Counter to narratives of fear that inflect discourses around madness, sexuality, and childhood, Alice and Oz celebrate alterity of various kinds, equating madness and queerness with play and opposing dominant cultural perceptions of deviance. Through analyses of iconographies of madness; depictions of chronoanormativity and queer time; and readings of the formations of queer relationships to ‘others’ and to gender, this paper will consider how madness and queerness are represented and intertwined in these enduring fantasy texts.

Bio:
Rachel Milne is a Visiting Lecturer at Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh. She holds a BA (Hons) in Media from Queen Margaret University, and an MLitt in Comparative Literature from the University of Glasgow. Her work primarily centres around representations of otherness in children’s literature and film, especially in relation to queerness, disability, and neurodivergence. Her writings on childhood and difference in literature and film have been published in peer-reviewed journals and blogs, and she has presented her work on Disney and disability, queerness in African cinema, childhood in Scottish film, and otherness in children’s literature, at various international conferences.

Rebecca Gault

Abstract:
A Conspiracy of Bodies: Negating Sexual Anthropocentrism

The tradition of the ‘Beauty and the Beast’ narrative – one where a beautiful, often female, human falls for a truly monstrous figure, often a man – is one that has persisted in the cultural imagination ever since Gabrielle-Suzanne Barbot de Villeneuve wrote her original version in 1740, following in the tradition of Charles Perrault’s fairy tales. However, the cultural opinions on sex and sexuality have to come to fluctuate significantly over the following years. As fantasy erotica becomes an emergent subgenre within the field, sexual behaviour comes to the forefront. This paper will seek to explore the cultural implications of monster-human erotica and the practice of teratophilia in literature and media. The tracing of desire through the constructed monstrous body raises questions of what the body is and the wider cultural discourse around acceptable societal standards. By discussing monster media such as Guillermo del Toro’s ‘The Shape of Water’, Marvel’s ‘Venom’, and China Miéville’s ‘Perdido Street Station’, this paper will utilise theories of anthropocentrism and sexuality studies to explore why exactly the monstrous, hybrid bodies of fantastic media trigger desire within the audience – and the radical potential of such an act.

Bio:
Rebecca Gault is an early-career academic from Glasgow, Scotland. She has a MA in English Literature from the University of Glasgow and a MLitt in Fantasy Literature from the University of Glasgow. Her research interests include monstrosity, gender and sexuality studies, the construction of the body, and modes of fantasy. She is currently the co-host of Out To Get You, a podcast examining horror media through the lens of marginalised experiences, and often writes about horror, fantasy, and comic books.

Sababa Monjur

Abstract:
“I Don’t Wanna Become a Demon”: Rethinking Binaries in Princess Mononoke and Okja

Fantasy can be effective as a mode of destabilizing and problematizing binary thinking (nature/culture, human/nonhuman, center/periphery for instance). Although separated by two decades, Hayao Miyazaki’s Princess Mononoke (1997) and Bong Joon-ho’s Okja (2017) pivot around the common theme of converting the nonhuman into marketable materials. This paper engages with the selected films in order to explore the material as well as metaphorical borders of the Anthropocene discourse that normalize and justify exploitation, instrumentalization and extraction of the nonhuman ones for the sole purpose of fueling the capitalist engine of so-called growth. Additionally, this paper thinks through and about extraction, thereby seeks to answer why and how the human/nonhuman binary is required for the biopolitical authorities to justify extraction and hyper-consumption of the nonhuman. Reading through an ecofeminist lens, the paper scrutinizes the techno-fixes proposed and practiced by the authority and argues for epistemological rethinking to conceive of alternative future(s) free of extractive hegemony that relies heavily on the human/nonhuman binary. To do so, the paper discusses: First, how do San in Princess Mononoke and Mija in Okja defy the binary by siding with the nonhuman and against the ‘demonic’ industrial forces as represented by Lady Eboshi and Lucy Mirando respectively. Second, how Lady Eboshi and Lucy Mirando’s absolute disregard for nonhuman agency is propelled not only by their goal of endless resource extraction but also their anthropocentric ideology that allows them to exploit and abuse the nonhumans as commodities. While the adults are entirely driven by techno-capitalist lust and are ignorant of the horrific outcome of such extractive practices, the children initiate epistemological rethinking by building kinship with the nonhuman to ensure a more inclusive and compassionate society where the humans can live harmoniously with their planetary partners.

Bio:
Sababa Monjur is currently enrolled as a doctoral student at Philipps University Marburg. She completed her MA in North American Studies from the same institute. Her research interest includes SF, popular culture, gender studies, environmental studies and ecofeminism. The latter area is the focus of her dissertation. She is the recipient of ICCS Graduate Scholarship 2022.

Saga Bokne

Abstract:
Settler Fairies: Postcolonial Implications of Fairies in America

In The Fantasy Tradition in American Literature, Brian Attebery notes that many of the European settlers in North America left their traditional supernatural stories behind when they emigrated. Apparently, the New World was not congenial to fairies and suchlike (20). In contemporary American fantasy, however, the continent is abundantly populated with fairy creatures of all shapes and sizes. Often, they are depicted as immigrants themselves, having crossed the mighty boundary of the Atlantic to colonize America alongside the human settlers who believed in them.

In my paper, I will discuss four novels which use the motif of fairies as European immigrants to America, analysing the implications of this motif from a postcolonial perspective. Firstly, I consider Emma Bull’s War for the Oaks and Keith Donohue’s The Stolen Child. In these novels, fairy creatures of European descent are the only supernatural beings encountered; there is no indication of the existence of indigenous spirits. In this way, I argue, Bull’s and Donohue’s novels participate in the erasure of indigenous stories and perpetuate conceptions of pre-colonial America as an unclaimed wilderness.

Secondly, I turn to two novels where the fairies’ settler status is given thematic weight. In Neil Gaiman’s American Gods, fairies such as piskies and leprechauns are depicted alongside a large variety of supernatural beings from multiple cultural contexts. The main story is repeatedly interrupted by interludes which describe the arrival of these beings in America at different points in history, thus emphasising America’s status as a cultural melting pot. Charles de Lint, in Widdershins, goes further still, depicting a long-standing and bitter conflict between colonising fairies and indigenous spirits. In Gaiman’s and de Lint’s novels, folkloric motifs are employed to tell stories which attempt to take into consideration the complex and tangled colonial history of America and all of its peoples.

Bio:
Saga Bokne is a PhD student in English literature at Karlstad University, Sweden. She is particularly interested in how folklore and mythology are reused and reinterpreted in contemporary fantasy. She is also very interested in the politics and ideology of fantasy. At Karlstad university, she teaches courses in children’s literature and academic writing, among other things. Her doctoral dissertation will be about the depictions and functions of fairies in post-Tolkienian fantasy literature.

Samantha Hammond

Abstract:
“To Win or Lose a Great Game”: Board Games, Seth Dickinson’s “Masquerade” Series, and Policing Fantasy’s Political Boundaries

Board game imagery is a common feature of fantasy literature, with the language of moves, countermoves, gambits, and endgames often used within fantasy texts to shape a reader’s understanding of political strategy and plays for power. This paper explores the role of such game-inflected imagery in delimiting the boundaries of the political change presented as legible, believable, or possible in the fantasy genre. I take as a case study Seth Dickinson’s “The Masquerade”, a fantasy series dense with board game imagery. Dickinson uses board games, with their associations of neat, schematised worlds and strategies, to invoke a specific model of political change: one where the world is figured as rational and rewritable, a board to be manipulated by a sufficiently clever player of the political game. However, as the series progresses, Dickinson invites the reader to interrogate the link between this game-inflected model of political change and the imperial ideology “The Masquerade” seeks to challenge. He does so by exploring the boundaries placed on action and agency by a game-inflected model of change: as one character points out, to beat a master at their own game, one is forced to play by their rules, accepting the possibility space of the board instead of reaching across the table to slit the other player’s throat. By tracing the shifting associations and logics of board game imagery in “The Masquerade”, I explore what it means that fantasy literature so often shapes the reader’s understanding of political change through imagery of rulesets, board edges, and boundaries on political action, uncovering the relationship between the board game and the fantasy genre’s oft-cited ability to envision alternative political structures.

Bio:
Samantha Hammond is a researcher interested in the intersections between literature and gaming, and in the role of space, systems thinking, and political change in both forms. She holds a Bachelor of Arts with Class I Honours in English Literature and a Graduate Certificate in Writing, Editing, and Publishing from the University of Queensland. During her undergraduate studies, she presented at two symposia and was awarded several prizes, including the Steele Rudd Memorial Essay Prize for best essay in Australian literature. She is currently studying a Master of Theatre (Dramaturgy) at the University of Melbourne.

Suzanne R. Black

Abstract:
Canon(n)s in the Distance: Black Sails Fanfiction, Decolonial Gothic and the Negotiation of Canon

Fanfiction texts necessarily replicate canonical elements from the media texts they rewrite while changing some aspects of the characters, setting or plots. One criticism that is often aimed at fanfiction is that it tends to be conservative rather than progressive when dealing with racial issues (Lothian & Stanfill, 2021). I identify several works of fanfiction related to the television series Black Sails (2014-2017) – itself related to Robert Louis Stevenson’s adventure novel Treasure Island (1883) – in which the boundaries of the Gothic genre of fantasy and their transgressions are used to reckon with race and racism.

Fanfiction’s tendency to minimise issues of race and racism emerge as genre interruptions in keeping with the Gothic tradition where “In seeing one time and its values cross into another, both periods are disturbed. The dispatching of unwanted ideas and attitudes into an imagined past does not guarantee they have been overcome” (Botting, 2013, p.3). The Decolonial Gothic, in particular, is an effective strategy for this as it can “mobilise supernatural figurations of threat and anxiety to grapple not with colonialism or its aftereffects, but with coloniality as the enduring alliance between Eurocentric master narratives of race, gender and nature, and capitalism as a set of economic/ecological relations that link regions and communities unequally together” (Duncan, 2022, p.319). I argue that Black Sails fanfiction cannot escape being haunted by its literary and historical forebears and these spectres often manifest as genre play.

Botting, Fred. Gothic. Routledge, 2013.

Duncan, Rebecca. ‘Decolonial Gothic: Beyond the Postcolonial in Gothic Studies’. Gothic Studies, vol. 24, no. 3, 2022, pp. 304–22.

Lothian, Alexis, and Mel Stanfill. ‘An Archive of Whose Own? White Feminism and Racial Justice in Fan Fiction’s Digital Infrastructure’. Transformative Works and Cultures, vol. 36, Sept. 2021.

Bio:
Suzanne R Black is a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Edinburgh. With a background in English Literature, she combines humanities approaches with digital methods, and has worked across a range of projects involving data and the creative industries. Her research interests lie in digital literary culture and the development of data-led approaches to contemporary fiction and fanfiction. She has published work in Transformative Works and Cultures, FORUM, The American Reader, The Journal of Fandom Studies and Queer Studies in Media & Popular Culture (forthcoming).

Tam Moules

Abstract:
Flower of Knights, Knight of Flowers: Transgression of Gendered Boundaries in Retellings of the Tale of Peredur

Peredur, or Perceval, has been a figure associated with the transgression of gendered boundaries since his early appearances in Monmouth and The Mabinogion. Peredur, Son of Efrawg, raised in seclusion by his mother, had trouble integrating into the masculine world of chivalry. His tale in The Mabinogion explores this through medieval Welsh understandings of masculinity, with traits such as facial hair and honour explicitly linked. His treatment of women, too, is outside the boundary of what is expected of him as a man and as a knight, and there is what can be interpreted as a queer homosocial relationship between Peredur and Gwalchmei (or Gawain), further transgressing the boundaries of hegemonic masculinity. More modern reinterpretations of the character, in Philip Reeve’s Here Lies Arthur (2007) and Nicola Griffith’s Spear (2022), draw on these notes of gendered dissonance and cast the character as a trans woman in post-Roman Britain (Reeve) and as a butch woman who is ambivalent to gender (Griffith). I am particularly interested in examining how Reeve perhaps inadvertently sets up a dialogue between biologically essentialist views of gender and cultural views of gender. His Peredur, or Peri for short, is born a boy, raised as a girl, lives as a man among Arthur’s warband, then ends the novel living as a woman. Both Reeve and Griffith use what has historically been a mode of storytelling associated with masculinity and particularly chivalric masculinity to explore femininity and gender fluidity, and both use the fantastical in their stories as a lens through which to examine gendered boundaries.

This paper will argue that queerness and gendered transgression are threaded through even the earliest parts of the Arthurian canon, and will trace these roots into modern retellings to examine what they’ve grown into.

Bio:
Tam Moules has an MLitt in Fantasy Literature from the University of Glasgow and a BA (Hons) in English Literature from Anglia Ruskin University. Their research is currently focused on queerness in Arthuriana, and they have previously presented papers at the 2019 Fantastika and Fabled Coast Conferences, Glasgow’s GifCon in 2018 and 2019, and Open Graves Open Minds 2021, as well as co-hosted writing workshops at the LSFRC’s Productive Futures conference and Cymera Festival.

Timothy Miller

Abstract:
Unicorn Variations: Continuity and Change in the Many Versions of The Last Unicorn

Over the past fifty years and more since its first publication, Peter S. Beagle’s 1968 novel The Last Unicorn has led a far from marginal life in fantasy, nestled firmly near the center of any conception of the genre as a “fuzzy set” despite its metafictional dimensions. If the novel most diverges from the Tolkienian model of fantasy in its use of both humor and metafiction, Beagle ultimately offers a theory of fantasy of his own via that very metafiction, and a theory of fantasy that arrives at many of the same conclusions as Tolkien’s “On Fairy-Stories” by other means. The novel’s many adaptations, abridgements, and even abortive early drafts have received far less attention, however, and lurked more furtively on the edges of fantasy and indeed Beagle’s own long career. This paper will therefore emphasize how these threads of metafiction and self-reflexive commentary on fantasy run through and become refracted across not only the 1982 animated adaptation of The Last Unicorn, but also the more recent graphic novel version; Beagle’s other unicorn stories (inside and outside the same universe); and the earlier fragmentary draft of the novel later published as “The Lost Version.” Across these variations on and responses to the original narrative, we find an emergent concern with change itself connected to the novel’s ruminations on the desire for immortality and the inability to change associated with its villainous figures.

Bio:
Timothy S. Miller teaches both medieval literature and modern speculative fiction as Assistant Professor of English at Florida Atlantic University, where he contributes to the department’s MA degree concentration in Science Fiction and Fantasy. Recent graduate course titles include “Theorizing the Fantastic” and “Artificial Intelligence in Literature and Film.” He has written on both later Middle English literature and various contemporary authors of fantasy and science fiction, and his book Ursula K. Le Guin’s ‘A Wizard of Earthsea’: A Critical Companion will be published in March of 2023. His current major project explores representations of plants and modes of plant being in literature and culture.

Vaibhav Dwivedi

Abstract:
The Porous House: Investigating the House as a Space of the Fantastic in Neil Gaiman’s Coraline

In Neil Gaiman’s Coraline (2002) the house is a significant element in the story which propels the narrative forward. In this paper, I seek to investigate the house as not just a space which hosts the fantastic element, but also as a fantastic entity in its own right. At the physical level, a house consists of a network of several thresholds – windows, doors and corridors. These boundaries act as reference points which provide a stable and coherent sense of reality. Our understanding of inside and outside, far and near depends on the inherent stability of these boundaries.

In Coraline however, these boundaries become strangely porous. The door-in-the-wall which opens up to a dark-hallway, the ever-changing primal tunnel, are some instances when the threshold becomes unreliable. When Coraline crosses the tunnel and enters the other-house, she finds herself in another room. She leaves an inside and emerges at ‘another’ inside. The spatial dichotomy of in/out becomes obsolete: since ‘inside’ does not exist anymore for her, ‘outside’ loses its meaning as well. This paper argues that the boundaries in the house do not just function as a border between the real and fantastic terrain, in face they themselves become the agent of transgression. And in doing so they threaten to make the objective reality unstable too.

Furthermore, if the self and space are interdependent entities, what happens to the former when it is deprived of objective boundaries. Does the distinction between the two collapse utterly? Coraline can interact with non-human entities in the other house. Does it suggest that the boundaries between the human and non-human have dissolved? How do we define the human then? Ultimately this paper through the work of select scholars investigates the house as an interstitial entity that defies any easy categorisation.

Bio:
Vaibhav Dwivedi is an Assistant Professor of English at St. Stephen’s College, Delhi University. His research interests include Cartography in Literature, Film Studies and Fantasy Literature.

Xiuqi Huang

Abstract:
Boundary Between the Human and the Inhuman in Arthur C. Clarke’s and Liu Cixin’s Science Fiction

This paper will examine the boundary between the human and the inhuman in the science fiction novels by Arthur C. Clarke, a representative figure of Golden Age science fiction, and Liu Cixin, a prominent contemporary Chinese science fiction writer. The two authors are especially worth comparing because of Liu Cixin’s self-proclaimed admiration for and imitation of Arthur C. Clarke’s science fiction. Both Clarke and Liu see humanity’s relocation from Earth to space as the catalyst for the fundamental transformation of the human into the inhuman, where humanity becomes equally, if not more alien than extraterrestrial intelligence. Clarke and Liu start from some common premises when dealing with this subject: they are both concerned with the theme of childhood, which establishes “the human” as a stage of civilisational childhood or adolescence to be outgrown when the human transforms into the inhuman; and they both believe in the inherent adaptability and malleability of human nature that makes the transformation into the inhuman possible. However, Clarke envisions human metamorphosis into the inhuman as evolutionary progress, whereas Liu depicts humans in space discarding their humanity as an inevitable sacrifice and moral degradation. This discrepancy in their characterisation of the inhuman is predicated on the fact that Clarke mainly treats “human” as a biological concept, in the sense that the transformation into the inhuman is characterised by liberation from human biological limitations, but Liu treats “human” as a moral concept and defines human nature by the moral values that the human race upholds. I will explore the social, historical, and literary factors that contribute to the discrepancies in Clarke’s and Liu’s understanding of the boundary between the human and the inhuman and the transgression of such boundary.

Bio:
Xiuqi Huang is a fourth-year PhD student in comparative literature at the University of Edinburgh. Her work focuses on transhumanism, non-human sentience and extraterrestrial life in Chinese and Anglophone science fiction. She is keen on exploring the boundary between the human and the inhuman, in the hope of shedding more light on the ever changing perception of what it is to be human against the imagination of the inhuman.

Yimin Xu

Abstract:
Re/discovering Women in Chinese Taoist Myth: New Gods: Yang Jian

In this paper, I analyse New Gods: Yang Jian (2022), a Chinese animation film that retells Taoist myth in a post-Ragnarök-alike background. The film is adapted from The Investiture of the Gods (Fengshen Yanyi, 封神榜), a 16th-century Chinese novel that contains Taoist folklore, fantasy and myth. In this paper, I examine the relationship between the protagonist Yang Jian, a central deity member in Taoist myth, with his nephew Chen Xiang. Specifically, I focus on Yang’s gendered role as a maternal uncle to take care of and guild his nephew to rescue female family members whereas father characters in the Yang family are completely dismissed.

In doing so, I delineate the matriarchal familial relation of the Yang family in the film and how such a structure distinguishes from that of The Investiture of the Gods. Unlike the original story, the Yangs becomes one of the leading forces to build a matriarchal god order against the current patriarchal one, which explicates the fall of the deity in the film. By re-interpreting The Investiture of the Gods, the film production team tries to re-represent traditional myths with new gender relationships in the 21st century China.

Furthermore, I contextualise the film in the history of the film adaption of The Investiture of the Gods, beginning in 1999. By historicising the film, I argue the film director re/discovers ancient Chinese imagination of a celestial matriarchy buried in The Investiture of the Gods. More importantly, however, the film speaks for current film producers’ ambitions to go beyond Anglo-American fantasy-film paradigm and re-create a Chinese deity/superhero. Unlike their forerunners in the 1990s, the young generation of filmmakers intends to build a new superhero cinematic universe where the Chinese deity/superheroes, unlike those by Marvel and D.C Studios, are inherently anti-patriarchal.

Bio:
Yimin Xu is a Ph.D. student in the School of Humanities and Languages at University of New South Wales, Australia, supervised by A/Prof. Zheng Yi, Emeritus Professor Louise Edwards and Dr. Wang Ping. Her research interest is gender in Chinese science fiction, Chinese fantastical literature and modern Chinese popular culture. Her current PhD project focuses on the concept of Chinese modernity reflected from gender representations in contemporary Chinese fantastical literature. Moreover, she examines national memories of China’s semi-colonisation history in the late 19th century embedded in current Chinese fantastical literature writing.

GIFCon 2023 Keynotes and Reading Suggestions

Event registration can be found here
The Programme can be found here.
Abstracts and Speaker Bios 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

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Dr. Will Tattersdill

‘Breathe Deep, Seek Peace’: The Fantasy/Science Boundary, Especially As It Applies To Dinosaurs 

Will Tattersdill (he/him) is Senior Lecturer in Contemporary Fantasy at Glasgow University, and the author of Science, Fiction, and the Fin-de-Siècle Periodical Press (Cambridge UP, 2016). He has taught and written on alternate history, museology, and animals in Star Trek, and is currently editing H. G. Wells for the Oxford World’s Classics series. His first children’s choose-your-own-adventure book (co-written with Sarah Crofton) will be published by Usborne this July. 

In the 181 years since they were formally named, dinosaurs have become almost synonymous with genre fiction. To find one in a text is to understand that text as sci fi, fantasy, horror; so-called realist literature stays well away from them. This is curious because dinosaurs are real – ideas extracted from the Earth, impossible without the methods and institutions of modern science. In this lecture, I’ll talk about how dinosaurs can be used to trouble the notion that fantasy always escapes, presenting the boundary between science and the imagination as pliable and generative rather than staunch and forbidding. My focal text with be Dinotopia, James Gurney’s iconic 1992 vision of a world where humans and dinosaurs live in harmony. 

Suggested Reading List

Nghi Vo

‘A Fantastic Conversation’

Nghi Vo became a writer because while there were alternatives, none of them suited her as well as a lifetime of endless research combined with simply making things up.  

She is the author of Siren Queen, The Chosen and the Beautiful, and The Singing Hills Cycle, including The Empress of Salt and Fortune and When the Tiger Came Down the Mountain

Suggested Reading List (all authored by Nghi Vho!)

  • The Empress of Salt and Fortune (2020)
  • When the Tiger Came Down the Mountain (2020)
  • Into the Riverlands (2022)
  • The Chosen and the Beautiful (2021)
  • Siren Queen (2022)

Dr. Sami Schalk

‘Reimagining Bodyminds and Liberation in Pandemic Times’

Dr. Sami Schalk (she/her) is an associate professor of Gender & Women’s Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She is the author of Bodyminds Reimagined: (Dis)ability, Race and Gender in Black Women’s Speculative Fiction (Duke 2018) and Black Disability Politics (Duke 2022). Dr. Schalk’s academic work focuses on race, disability, and gender in contemporary American literature and culture. She also writes for mainstream outlets, including a monthly column called “Pleasure Practices” in TONE Madison. Dr. Schalk identifies as a fat, Black, queer, disabled femme and a pleasure activist. 

Drawn from the book Bodyminds Reimagined, this talk will explore how science and speculative media can challenge our understandings of social issues and how these new understandings can expand our imaginative potential and be applied to real world work for social change. 

Suggested Reading List

GIFCon 2023 Boundaries and Margins Programme

Event registration can be found here
Keynotes and Reading Suggestions can be found here.
Abstracts and Speaker Bios 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

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Tuesday 9 May 2023
18:00-18:45 Discord Welcome in our Discord
Day 1: Wednesday 10 May 2023 
9:30 – 10:00: Platform wide welcome / Opening words and explanation of the mechanics 
10:00 – 11:00: Roundtable: Researching Boundaries and Margins with Bettina Juszak, Dion Dobrzynski, Parinita Shetty, and Mariana Rios Maldonado
Chaired by Grace A.T. Worm with Deputy Chair Dimitra Fimi
11:25 – 12:40: Panel 1A         
Fantastic Liminalities         
Chair: Lucinda Holdsworth 
Deputy Chair: Madeline Wahl

11:25 Chengcheng You: Outlandish Representations: Crossing Boundaries of Species and Genres in Young Adult Liminal Fantasy  

 11:45 Parvathy R.: The Cracks Within: Liminality and Hero-making in Fantasy 

12:05 Vaibhav Dwivedi: The Porous House: Investigating the House as a Space of the Fantastic in Neil Gaiman’s Coraline 

12:25 Discussion 




11:25 – 12:40: Panel 1B      
Boundaries of Humanity  
Chair: Anna Milon
Deputy Chair: Frances Pearson 

11:25 Canchen Cao: What the “Other” Uncovers: The Periphery of the Medieval Fantasy World and Universe  

11:45 Hannah Mimiec: Won’t Somebody Think of the Children! Liminal Fantasy and Biopower in Hope Mirrlees’s ‘Lud-In-The-Mist’ 

12:05 Xiuqi Huang: Boundary Between the Human and the Inhuman in Arthur C. Clarke’s and Liu Cixin’s Science Fiction 

12:25 Discussion 
11:25 – 12:40: Panel 1C      
Dungeons & Dragons & Drawing New Boundaries 
Chair: Emma French
Deputy Chair: Anika Klose

11:25 Amy Richmond: The Living (and Loving) Dead: The Erotic Rejection of Death in Critical Role: Campaign 3  

11:45 Fiona Reid: Beyond the Table and Into the Dungeon: How Neurodivergent and Queer People Explore Identity Through TTRPGs 

12:05 Dr Dimitra Nikolaidou: Centering on the Margins: The Evolution of Fantasy Tabletop Role-Playing Games
 
12:25 Discussion 

12:40 – 13:10: Lunch 
13:30 – 14:30: Keynote: Dr Will Tattersdill, ‘Breathe Deep, Seek Peace’: The Fantasy/Science Boundary, Especially As It Applies To Dinosaurs
Chaired by Dimitra Fimi with Deputy Chair Madeline Wahl
14:30 – 14:50 Coffee Break 
14:50 – 16:05: Panel 2A      
Queering Fantasies 1
Chair: Taylor Driggers
Deputy Chair: Jiaxin Liu

14:50 Tam Moules: Flower of Knights, Knight of Flowers: Transgression of Gendered Boundaries in Retellings of the Tale of Peredur 

15:10 Mercury Natis: “And its Folks are Queerer”: Queer Marginality and the Found Family Dynamics of the Bagginses of Bag-End 

15:30 Mars Nicoli: The Sex of Angels: Nonbinary readings of otherworldly creatures in Supernatural (2005-2020) and Good Omens (2019-) 

15:50 Discussion  
14:50 – 16:05: Panel 2B      
Interrogating Fairy Tales and Folktales 
Chair: Anna Milon
Deputy Chair: Sarah Koki

14:50 Cristina Espejo: Fairy tales and Fantasy: Expanding Boundaries and Subverting Expectations 

15:10 Francesca Bihet: On the Borders of Fairyland: Science and the Supernatural in Andrew Lang’s That Very Mab and The Chronicles of Pantouflia 

15:30 Madeleine Sinclair: Fantastical Subjectivity in Rana Dasgupta’s Twenty-First Century Folktales
 
15:50 Discussion   

14:50 – 16:05: Panel 2C      
Crossing Thresholds 
Chair: Siobhan Mulligan
Deputy Chair: Annemarie Whitehurst

14:50 Madalena Daleziou: Threshold Crossing and Deconstructed Portals in Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials and Laini Taylor’s Daughter of Smoke and Bone.
 
15:10 Isabelle Hanshue: From Prisoner to King: Entrapment and Escape Through the Fantastic in Susanna Clarke’s Novels 

15:30 Luise Rössel: Crossing the lake – The land of the dead, resurrection, and Jesus in Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials 

15:50 Discussion






   

Day 2: Thursday 11 May 2023 
9:30 – 10:45: Panel 3A  
The Political Fantastic 
Chair: Dimitra Fimi
Deputy Chair: Annemarie Whitehurst

9:30 Samantha Hammond: “To Win or Lose a Great Game”: Board Games, Seth Dickinson’s “Masquerade” Series, and Policing Fantasy’s Political Boundaries 

9:50 Louise Marchel: Revolution or Fantastic Dream? The Importance of William Morris’ ‘News from Nowhere’ in the Psychedelic Creative Landscape of 1960s London 

10:10 Esther Edelmann: Fantastic Underdevelopment in E.T.A. Hoffmann’s The Devil’s Elixirs and Reinaldo Arenas’ Hallucinations 

10:30 Discussion  
9:30 – 10:45: Panel 3B   
Rewriting Women in National Contexts 
Chair: Isabel Ferrari
Deputy Chair: Hannah Mimiec

9:30 Yimin Xu: Re/discovering Women in Chinese Taoist Myth: New Gods: Yang Jian 

9:50 Aicha Daoudi: Trickster Witches: The Manifestation of the Archaic Trickster Energy in Female Characters of the American Fantasy Genre. 

10:10 Ane B. Ruiz-Lejarcegui: Embracing Hybrid Identities in Silvia Moreno-García’s The Daughter of Doctor Moreau 

10:30 Discussion   
9:30 – 10:45: Panel 3C      
Crossover Audiences 
Chair: Tom Emanuel
Deputy Chair: Grace A.T. Worm

9:30 Lizao Hu: Fantasy as crossover carnival: Transgressing boundaries in Aaron Becker’s wordless picturebook trilogy 

9:50 Alvin Emmanuel Alagao: A Filipino Gamer Gets Lost in the Universe of Saga Frontier in 1998 and 2021: An Autoethnography 

10:10 James Lowder and Fergus Attlee: Fantastic Interdisciplinarity: Two Human Geographers on Makoto Shinkai’s Voices of a Distant Star and Your Name
 
10:30 Discussion  

10:45 – 11:15 Break 
11:15 – 12:30: Workshops 
4A: “Solo Roleplaying Games: History and How To” with Anna Blackwell 
Deputy Chair: Tam Moules

4B: “Writing Hybrid Genres” with Dr Oliver Langmead 
Deputy Chair: Laura Sanchez

4C: “Boundless Empathy: Exploring Non-Anthropocentric Writing” with Michael Deerwater 
Deputy Chair: Maggie Naylor
12:30 – 13:00 Lunch Break  
13:00 – 13:55: Panel 5A
Representing Hostile Worlds 
Chair: Isabel Ferrari
Deputy Chair: Sarah Koki

13:00 Katarina Dulude: To Refuse What Has Been Refused to You: Depictions of the Undercommons in the Future Imaginaries of Arcane and Babel 

13:20 Despoina Tantsiopoulou: Opposing School of Thought: Marginalization and the Campus in R.F. Kuang’s “Babel” 

13:40 Discussion








13:00 – 14:15: Panel 5B
Screening Fantastic Horrors  
Chair: Maria Arvaniti
Deputy Chair: Jiaxin Liu

13:00 Jamie MacGregor: Now with more blood, guts, and gore!: Horror Cinema in the Wake of Covid-19 

13:20 Eilidh Harrower: “You kids have fun” – ‘Bodies Bodies Bodies’ and ‘Scream’ as Reflections of Changing Generational Fears 

13:40 Rebecca Gault: A Conspiracy of Bodies: Negating Sexual Anthropocentrism

14:00 Discussion  
 
13:00 – 14:15: Panel 5C          
Renegotiating Fantastic Margins 
Chair: Siobhan Mulligan
Deputy Chair: Maggie Naylor

13:00 Suzanne Black: Canon(n)s in the Distance: Black Sails Fanfiction, Decolonial Gothic and the Negotiation of Canon 

13:20 Anika Klose: “My Colours Are Mine” – New Shades of Detective Fiction in Ambelin and Ezekiel Kwaymullina’s Catching Teller Crow   

13:40 Saga Bokne: Settler Fairies: Postcolonial Implications of Fairies in America 

14:00 Discussion
   
14:15 – 14:45: Break 
14:45 – 15:45: Keynote: Nghi Vo, A Fantastic Conversation
Chaired by Matthew Sangster with Deputy Chair Laura Sanchez

Day 3: Friday 12 May 2023 
12:30 – 13:30: Networking Event 
13:45 – 15:00: Workshops & Discussion Groups 
6A: “‘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 
Deputy Chair: Laura Sanchez

6B: “Academic Yassification: From Essay to Article, Navigating Student Publishing” with Gabriel Elvery 
Deputy Chair: Katarina O’Dette

6C: Tabletop Role Playing Games Roundtable with Andy Tytler, Misha Grifka, and Beatrix Livesey-Stephens
Chaired by Emma French
15:15 – 16:30: Panel 7A           
Gaming the Boundaries 
Chair: Rhys Pasternack
Deputy Chair: Maggie Naylor

15:15 Caighlan Smith: Colors of Compassion: Breaking Boundaries through Fantastical Empathy Play in Life is Strange: True Colors
 
15:35 Mark Hines: Stats and Soil: Race and Homeland in Fantastic Worlds 

15:55 Charlie Schroeder & Roxanne Tuckman: Grotesque Bodies and Surreal Planes: Transgressing the Boundaries of the Weird through Video Game Glitches  

16:15 Discussion 
15:15 – 16:10: Panel 7B     
Queering Boundaries 2
Chair: Maria Arvaniti
Deputy Chair: Anika Klose

15:15 Rachel Milne: We’re All Mad Queer: Breaching the Boundaries of Sanity and Sex in Wonderland and Oz 

15:35 Amber Hancock: Rejected and Searching for Home: An Exploration of Doorways and Queer Representation in Seanan McGuire’s Every Heart a Doorway  

15:55 Discussion
15:15 – 16:10: Panel 7C     
Negotiating Genre 
Chair: Tom Emanuel
Deputy Chair: Hannah Mimiec

15:15 Nathaniel Harrington: “síneadh eile lenár dtraidisiún scéalaíochta”: Fantasy and “Celtic” tradition 

15:35 Anushmita Mohanty: On Why We Read Fantasy: Affective Responses as Generic Boundaries  

15:55 Discussion
16:30 – 17:00 Break 
17:00 – 18:00: Keynote: Dr Sami Schalk, Reimagining Bodyminds and Liberation in Pandemic Times 
Chaired by Taylor Driggers with Deputy Chair Jiaxin Liu
18:25 – 19:40: Panel 8A   
Embodied Fantasy 
Chair: Siobhan Mulligan
Deputy Chair: Annemarie Whitehurst

18:25 Megan Stephens: The borders of power: Superheroes and disability
  
18:45 M. Caroline McCaulay: “The Childbed is Our Battlefield”: Examining Depictions of Childbirth in Contemporary Fantasy  

19:05 Madeline Wahl: Who Is Allowed To Cast Spells?: Stuttering, Fluency, And Spellcasting In The Harry Potter Series 

19:25 Discussion 
18:25 – 19:40: Panel 8B      
Transgressing the Text  
Chair: Anna Milon
Deputy Chair: Hannah Mimiec

18:25 Cameron Bourquein:  How Do You Solve a Problem Like “Mairon”?: Exploring How Sauron’s Most Marginal Name Recasts the Lord of the Rings
 
18:45 Timothy Miller: Unicorn Variations: Continuity and Change in the Many Versions of The Last Unicorn 

19:05 Eugenia Biavati: Resisting narrative patterns: the transgressive power of Terry Pratchett’s parody 

19:25 Discussion  
18:25 – 19:40: Panel 8C   
Fantasies of Environmental Realities 
Chair: Grace A.T. Worm
Deputy Chair: Sarah Koki

18:25 Maggie White: Challenging Energy Exuberance through Epic Fantasy: A Study of N.K. Jemisin’s The Broken Earth trilogy 

18:45 Declan Roberts: Blurred Battle Lines: Analyzing Energy Analogues in Tracy Deonn’s Legendborn 

19:05 Sababa Monjur: “I Don’t Wanna Become a Demon”: Rethinking Binaries in Princess Mononoke and Okja 

19:25 Discussion  
20:00 – Later: Post-conference social [in person and on Zoom] 



GIFCon 2022 Fantasy Across Media Programme

Image


Abstracts and Speaker Bios can be found here.

Event registration here.

Workshop information can be found here.

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

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PROGRAMME

Day 1: Wednesday April 27 2022

9:00 – 9:20 Radio GIFCon Breakfast chat on Discord


9:30 – 10:00: Platform wide welcome / Opening words and explanation of the mechanics

10:00 – 11:00: Research Across Media Roundtable (BST)

11:25 – 12:40: Panel 1: Fantasy Will Be Televised

Chair: Katarina O’Dette
Deputy Chair: Liz Weis

11:25 Kat Humphries: “What’s this cheery singing all about?”: Fantasy television and the musical episode 
11:45 Iana Nikitenko: Nostalgia and the Challenges of the Modern World in “Chilling Adventures of Sabrina” 
12:05 Carrie Spencer: From Side-line to Storyline: How the Inclusion of Parents on Supernatural Adventures in US Teen Telefantasy is Changing Constructions of Adolescence 

12:25 Discussion

11:25 – 12:40: Panel 2: Online Paratexts

Chair: Grace Worm
Deputy Chair: Rachel Milne

11:25 Jack Fennell: Thermonuclear Druid Power: ‘Post-Truth’ Fantasy and the Re-evaluation of the Celt
11:45 Alice M. Kelly: Dark Swans: Otherness, Queerness, and Femslash Reimaginings
12:05 Carmen Hidalgo-Varo: Bridging Fact and Fiction through the Internet: Jasper Fforde´s Narratives

12:25 Discussion

11:25 – 12:40: Panel 3: Playing the Game

Chair: Halle Campise
Deputy Chair: Isabel Ferrari

11:25 Emma French: ‘This Was Supposed to be the Evil Game!’ – Playful and Critical Subversion in D&D and Dimension 20’s Escape from the Bloodkeep
11:45 Anna Milon: By My Hand Alone: Augmenting Live Action Role-Play Experiences through Writing.
12:05 Gabriel Elvery: Fantastic Friends and Where to Find Them: Fantasy Friendships with Video Game Characters

12:40 – 13:10: Lunch

13:20 – 14:20: Keynote Marjorie Liu (BST)

Chair: TBD, Deputy Chair: Maggie White


14:20 – 14:50: Coffee Break

14: 20 – 14:45 Radio GIFCon Fantasy Music Hour on Discord

14:50 – 16:05: Panel 4 Fantasies of Nation

Chair: Taylor Driggers 
Deputy Chair: Suguru Ikeda 

14:50 Barbora Kaplánková: One of These Things Is Not Like the Others: Princess Cursed in Time and The Issue of Czech Fantasy
15:10 Maria Arvaniti: Finding the Cyclolotogorgocircilarizo: Folklore and identity in the fantasy plays of Xenia Kalogeropoulou
15:30 Louise Child: Tricksters and Skinwalkers: Ambivalent Animism in Indigenous Religions and Native American and Canadian Films 15:50 Discussion

15:50 Discussion

14:50 – 16:05: Panel 5 Fandom Counternarratives

Chair: Mariana Rios Maldonado
Deputy Chair: Hannah Morley

14:50 Christopher Lynch Becherer: Schisms in the Discworld Fandom, or, Who Watches The Watch
15:10 Nicholas Wanberg: Renegotiating Light: Adaptations of Gender, Whiteness and Physicality Between Harry Potter and its Fanfiction

15:30 Discussion

14:50 – 16:05: Panel 6 Fantastic Hesitation in Digital Worlds

Chair: Halle Campise
Deputy Chair: Isabelle Gebhart

14:50 Pamela Elaine Miller: Foul Murder: The Role of Unreliable Narrative in “The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind”
15:10 Kate Fry and Rebecca Gault: Desired Realities: Reality Shifting and Portal Quest Fantasy
15:30 Eva McLean: ‘How strange and brief all of this is’: What Remains of Edith Finch, Empathy and Liminal Fantasy

15:50 Discussion

16:15 – 17:00 Radio GIFCon Closing Chat on Discord


Day 2: Thursday 28 April 2022

9:00 – 9:20 Radio GIFCon Breakfast Chat on Discord

9:30 – 10:45: Panel 7 Modes of Fantasy Production

Chair: Dimitra Fimi
Deputy Chair: Robin Daly

9:30 Kim Wilkins: Born Convergent: Young Adult Fantasy across Platforms and Media 
9:50 Devika Mehra and Supriya Baijal: Fantasy, Nation, and the Hindi televisual space: A Study of the T.V. Adaptation of Devki Nandan Khatri’s Chandrakanta 
10:10 Katarina O’Dette: It’s Not Fantasy, It’s HBO: Filtering Genre through Channel Brands 

 10: 30 Discussion

9:30 – 10:45: Panel 8 Out in the World

Chair: Taylor Driggers
Deputy Chair: Maggie White

9:30 Dipanwita Paul: Durga Meets The Avengers: How Fantasy Texts are reimagined in the religious festivities of Bengal
9:50 Douglas A. Van Belle: Metal as Medium: An Artisan Bladesmith’s Insights into the Fantasy of Magical Weaponry
10:10 Silvia Storti: Advertising the fairy tale: the happily ever after con

10:30 Discussion

9:30 – 10:45: Panel 9 Mapping Mediums

Chair: Grace Worm
Deputy Chair: Amy Richmond

Matthew J. Elder: The Utopian Potential of Fantasy Worldbuilding through The Quiet Year 
9:30 Siravich Khurat: Serial World-Building: Resetting the Digital World and Trailing Zemuria
9:50 Tungabhadra Banerjee: Magic, Myth and the ‘Perilous Realm’ of Fantasy Media: Exploring the World of Xianxia in the Chinese Television Series ‘The Untamed’ (2019)

10:10 Discussion


10:45 – 11:00 Break

11:10 – 12:25: Workshops (Sign ups will go out via Eventbrite close to GIFCon)

12:25 – 13:00 Lunch Break

12:25 – 12:55 Radio GIFCon Fantasy Music Hour on Discord

13:00 – 14:15: Panel 10 Myths Adapted

Chair: Rob Maslen
Deputy Chair: Amy Richmond

13:00 Arusharko Banerjeea: A Study in Non-Anglophone Fantasy Literature: Graphic Re-presentation of the Mahabharata Mythology 
13:20 Timothy Miller: Orpheus in the Wasteland: Anaïs Mitchell’s “Folk Opera” Hadestown and Satanic Capitalism 

13:40 Discussion

13:00 – 14:15: Panel 11 Media Monsters

Chair: Taylor Driggers
Deputy Chair: Anadhika Basin

13:00 Steffen Hantke: “Size Matters”: Why Giant Creatures on Screen Keep Getting Bigger
13:20 Zoe Wible: Fantastic creatures and film form: the example of shot/ reverse shot
13:40 Anika Klose: I Am The Monster You Created: Deconstructing The Monstrous Other in Andrezj Sapkowski’s The Witcher Adaptations

14:00 Discussion

13:00 – 14:15: Panel 12 Visualizing Fantasy

Chair: Emma French
Deputy Chair: Rowan McCormick

13:00 Shree Thaarshini S: Winx Club and the Fates of Styling
13:20 Alexandra Gushurst-Moore: Space and Time in Visual Works of Fantasy: Towards a Methodology

13:40 Discussion

14:15 – 14:45: Break

14:45 – 15:45: Keynote Matthew Sangster (BST)

Chair: Mariana Rios Maldonado, Deputy Chair: Liz Weis

16:00 – 16:45 Radio GIFCon Closing Chat on Discord


Day 3: Friday 29 April 2022

12:00 – 12:45 Radio GIFCon Networking Event on Discord

15:15 – 16:30: Panel 13 Medium is the Message

Chair: Isabel Ferrari
Deputy Chair: Suguru Ikeda

15:15 Anthony E. Dominguez: Split-Screen(s): Interfacing with Shibuya in The World Ends With You 
15:35 Alfredo Mac Laughlin: Philosophy Quest! Using Fantasy in a Game-Based-Learning Philosophy Course 
15:55 Caighlan Smith: A Hero’s Morality Play: Epic Fantasy Heroes and Morality Mechanics in Video Games 

16:15 Discussion

15:15 – 16:30: Panel 14 Negotiating Genre on the Small Screen

Chair: Katarina O’Dette
Deputy Chair: Ciara Higgins

15:15 Ida Yoshinaga: Fantasy Modes that Fuel Sadcoms: the Generic (Genre) Labor of Millennial Community Expression Innovates Televisual Pre-production Cultures
15:35 Paromita Patranobish: Solastalgia and Planetary Affect in Katla (2021)
15:55 Eilidh Harrower: “I’ll see you again in 25 years” – Liminal Boundaries of Genre, Time and Plot in ‘Twin Peaks’ 

16:15 Discussion

15:15 – 16:30: Panel 15 Magic and Mundane in Manga and Anime

Chair: Rob Maslen
Deputy Chair: Rowan McCormick

15:15 Hannah Barton: The Weathering is Magical: The Mundane Moments in Climate Change
15:35 Özcan Kahraman: A Fantastic Slice-of-Life Experience: Exploring the Ordinary in Fantasy with Hayao Miyazaki
15:55 Sydney Paige Guerrero: Indescribably Vivid: Lovecraftian Horror in the Manga of Junji Ito

16:15 Discussion

16:30 – 17:00 Break

16:30 – 16:55 Radio GIFCon Fantasy Music Hour on Discord

17:00 18:00: Keynote Cáel Keegan (BST)

Chair: Taylor Driggers, Deputy Chair: Katarina O’Dette

18:25 – 19:40: Panel 16 Fantastic Bodyminds

Chair: Taylor Driggers
Deputy Chair: Rachel Milne

18:25 Elizabeth Boothby: “Mom, it’s not you”: The Owl House, validation seeking, and the queerly-othered mother figure in children’s fantasy media 
18:45 Julia Jin Wang: Disrupting Constructions of “Abledness”: A Neo-Daoist Reading of Fantasy Cultivation in Eternal Love 
19:05 Madalena Daleziou: Representations of Disability in Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood and Dororo 

19:25 Discussion

18:25 – 19:40: Panel 17 Moving Through Virtual Worlds

Chair: Halle Campise
Deputy Chair: Shannon Carroll

18:25 Sarah Bresnahan: Entering the Game: Videogames as Fantastic Portals
18:45 James G. Lowder: “There’s so much more to discover before the world ends”: Walking Through Ruins and Encountering Entropy in Horizon Zero Dawn
19:05 Misha Grifka Wander: Learning to Use Elfroot: Video Games and Worldbuilding 

19:25 Discussion

18:25 – 19:40: Panel 18 Iconic Characters Across Media

Chair: Mariana Rios Maldonado
Deputy Chair: Samantha Godsick

18:25 Bettina Charlotte Burger: From Trickster to Villain to LGBT icon – Loki God(dess) of Mischief Across Media
18:45 Michael A. Torregrossa: Arthur, King of the Comics? The Functions of Arthur Pendragon in Comics and Comic Art
19:05 Marta Miquel-Baldellou: Traces of Gaston Leroux’s ‘Le Fantôme de l’Opéra’ in Alejandro Amenábar’s ‘Abre los Ojos’

19:25 Discussion

20:00 – Later Radio GIFCon Discord De-Stress Social


GIFCon 2022 Fantasy Across Media Speaker Abstracts

Image

The Programme can be found here

Keynote and Roundtable bios are here.

Workshop Information can be found here.

Event registration here

This document is updated as needed. 

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Panelists in alphabetic order:


Alexandra Gushurst-Moore  

Abstract: 

Space and Time in Visual Works of Fantasy: Towards a Methodology 

This paper examines the presentation of space and time in visual works of fantasy in order to ascertain a core methodology for their discovery. It thus takes up George P. Landow’s challenge to discern ‘something, whether the reactions of a character within a literary work or some other device, [which] must signal us that we are to take certain elements as fantastic.’ As the primary arbiters of reality, conceptions of space and time are fundamental to the construction of the real world within our individual and communal imaginations. It follows, therefore, that any attempt to create an evidently non-realistic “world” must subvert the realistic presentation of these two forces. This paper examines how space and time are presented within visual works of fantasy, drawing examples from the late nineteenth century British art to establish how the mode was developed within the work of artists such as Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Edward Burne-Jones, and George Frederic Watts in concurrence with the literary genre developing in the work of George MacDonald and William Morris. By this means, this paper presents a typology of three presentations off spacetime in visual fantasy: enclosure, density, and distortion, which serve as a framework for the designation of visual works of art as fantasy. Thus, by examining how fantasy artists manipulate space and time in their paintings, a better definition of the mode is ascertained, with ramifications for how we understand and interpret both fantasy art and literature. 

Bio: 

Alex Gushurst-Moore is a Research Affiliate at the University of York, where she has recently completed a PhD titled “The Making of Modern Fantasy in the Visual Arts of England, c. 1850-1920”. She has lectured extensively on late Victorian and Edwardian fantasy art and literature and was recently a Louise Seaman Bechdel Fellow at the University of Florida. She holds degrees in English Literature and Art History from the universities of Edinburgh and Oxford. 

Alfredo Mac Laughlin 

Abstract: 

Philosophy Quest! Using Fantasy in a Game-Based-Learning Philosophy Course  

In this presentation I share my experiences devising and teaching a college-level Introduction to Philosophy as a full semester fantasy role-playing experience. The course introduces students to an epic fantasy narrative: the head of the kingdom is dying of a mysterious nihilistic illness, and bands of “adventurers” (each a team of 4-5 students) compete to discover a viable “meaning of life” that may save the kingdom. The adventurers then travel the land, encountering historical figures representing specific philosophical views. Each class presents the students/adventurers with a new challenge that is done in a game format (riddles, scavenger hunts, puzzles, even a simplified D&D session), which introduce the students to philosophical concepts (theory of knowledge, meaning of life, wonder, nihilism, individualism, communitarianism, Aristotle’s “golden mean” and so forth). While there is a graded element, the course design draws on the students’ playfulness and competitive spirit as the central motivation to complete course objectives. The presentation may be of general interest as a non-traditional, interactive use of fantasy themes, and may be of particular interest to scholars and teachers interested in game-based learning as a non-traditional teaching technique. 

Bio: 

Alfredo Mac Laughlin was born in Argentina and got his Ph.D. in Philosophy at Loyola University Chicago. He teaches philosophy and applied ethics at St. Ambrose University in Davenport, Iowa. He is Editor of the Journal of Science Fiction and Philosophy (jsfp.org) and co-editor of the International Journal of Fantasy and Philosophy (ijfp.org). 

Alice M. Kelly 

Abstract:  

Dark Swans: Otherness, Queerness, and Femslash Reimaginings 

The ‘Swan Queen’ ship from the television show Once Upon a Time (ABC, 2011-2018; Disney+, 2021-), pairing Emma Swan and the Evil Queen (Regina Mills), has inspired the most prolific fan writing community for a femslash ship featuring a character of colour for the last 7 years (centreoftheselights). Despite this, and in keeping with the persistent neglect of femslash fandom and fandoms of colour, this ship has thus far received little scholarly attention outside of (and even within) fan studies. This paper highlights the pertinence of ‘Swan Queen’ fanfiction to both queer and fantasy scholarship, by looking at how fan authors treat the figure of the ‘Dark One’ in OUAT – a figure exemplifying mainstream, Anglophone fantasy’s reliance on the dark margin to cohere whiteness as goodness (Thomas 2019, 37). In OUAT canon, the white saviour, Emma Swan, becomes the ‘Dark One’ (or ‘Dark Swan’) to save a very white town (and text) from an even more deeply endarkened, or re-endarkened, dark other (the reformed Evil Queen, played by the only main cast member of colour, Lana Parrilla). ‘Swan Queen’ fans, however, reimagine this plot point romantically, as an act of true love. Abandoned at birth by her parents, Snow White and Prince Charming, to fulfil her destiny as saviour, Emma, like Regina, has also been marginalised and victimised by the supposed benevolence of white heroism’s moral codes. ‘Swan Queen’ rewrites of Emma’s sacrifice contend that her own experiences of (class-based) Othering mean she can survive and even embrace the dark margin, making Regina not the irredeemably lone Dark Other, but a person who deserves saving from the burden of more darkness. Whether parodying the homophobic associations of queer villainy or confronting histories of abuse, the folkloric plurality of the Dark Swans of Swan Queen fanfiction represent queerer fantastics. 

Bio:  

Alice M. Kelly is a Fellow-in-Residence at the University of Oxford’s Rothermere American Institute working on queer forms of temporality and embodiment in femslash fan works (fan-authored narratives pairing female characters from pre-existing literature and media in romantic relationships). She has published widely on the relationship between queer female fan cultures and lesbian literary history in Transformative Works and Cultures, LIT: Literature, Interpretation and Theory, The European Journal of English Studies and Studies in Popular Culture. Her first monograph, Decolonising the Conrad Canon, brings together adaptation, fan, feminist, queer and postcolonial studies to interrogate the construction of the colonial literary canon (Liverpool UP, Feb 2022a). She is currently working on her second monograph, Once Upon a Queer Time: Femslash, Fairy Tales and Swan Queen Fanfiction, which presents a new theory of queer, fan, and fantasy time based on fanfiction from the internet’s biggest femslash fandom of colour. 

Amanda Zilla  

Abstract: 

Meta-television as Structural Tool: The Creation of Metafantasy in Marvel’s WandaVision (2021) 

“WandaVision adheres to the fantasy genre through its incorporation of the supernatural, magic, the presence of fantastical phenomena in the development of plot and the spatial storyworld, and the struggle between the forces of goodness and evil (Herman et al 160-1). However, it is the inclusion of meta-television as a structural technique within the limited series which cements its classification as metafantasy. This paper will explore the manner in which meta-television works to construct metafantasy by producing multiple parallel planes of reality within the narrative world. These planes include the fantastical television-inspired version of Westview and the text actual world beyond the transparent boundary, which is, a fictionalized New Jersey spatialized within the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). , Each episode of the limited series is inspired by popular television shows from bygone decades. This paper will examine how the choice in sitcoms, their translocation of character and audience to these time periods and the characteristics of each era of sitcom television facilitate the creation of fantasy within the already fantastical storyworld. In the televised version of Westview, the dead have been resurrected, children have been conceived between humans and sentient beings, and inhabitants live their lives as predicated by their sitcom identities and roles. Beyond the boundary, attempts are made to prevent any further threat from villains with superhuman abilities, and America tries to grapple with the resurrection of individuals who died as a result of Thanos’ snap, an act referred to within the MCU as the “Blip”. This paper will also examine the ways in which radio waves and electromagnetic signals build portals between the possible worlds of the series and between series and audience. This allows for fantasy to be created and unraveled for characters and viewers. Works Cited Herman, David, et al., editors. Routledge Encyclopedia of Narrative Theory. Routledge, 2010.  

Bio: 

Amanda Zilla is a PhD Literatures in English candidate at The University of the West Indies, St. Augustine, Trinidad. Her research interests include virtual reality technology, transmedial narratology, and the adaptations of Caribbean literary texts into new media formats. Some of her publications and conference presentations include “Khaled Hosseini’s Sea Prayer: Virtual Storytelling and ‘User Response’ in Fictionalised Migrant Narrative” & “Adapting Caribbean Literary Texts into Virtual Reality: A ‘User-Response’ Approach”. 

Anika Klose 

Abstract: 

I Am The Monster You Created: Deconstructing The Monstrous Other in Andrezj Sapkowski’s The Witcher Adaptations 

The well-established link between women and monstrosity permeates different media, but is especially notorious in video games. When female characters aren’t infantilised damsels in distress in need of a male hero, they are often monstrous and/or hypersexualised. The horror arising from the female Other disrupts the symbolic order and is rejected by the patriarchal normative, which is why the women must always be slain by the male protagonist, who punishes them for their unchecked sexuality and power. But this phenomenon is not linked to video games alone, as is demonstrated by Andrezj Sapkowski’s The Witcher. Recent adaptations that include the Netflix series of the same name, several video games, and the most recent anime The Witcher: Nightmare of the Wolf showcase how the three versions clash when it comes to the topic of monstrosity. Not only do I want to explore how each medium depicts female bodies and their links to monstrosity, but also their oscillation between hybridised binaries such as “half-alive, half-dead, […] obscurely/obviously repellent specter/creature” (Hogle). While horror media usually only feature a handful of monsters that disrupt the symbolic order, fantasy worlds frequently offer entire monster civilisations that populate the world. “In this sense, monstrosity is normalised in science fiction and fantasy […]” (Stang). Despite the fact that Geralt as a witcher is coded as a monster himself, the three forms of adaptations take contrasting stands on (female) monstrosity in order to tackle their target audiences. Therefore, I will focus on a comparative analysis between all three adaptations elaborate on the pressing questions that arise and deconstruct the binaries: who should be feared? Who should be locked up? And who is truly monstrous?  

Bio: 

Anika Klose is an undergraduate student in media in culture science at the Heinrich-Heine-University in Dusseldorf, aspiring to complete her B.A. thesis in summer 2022. As an illustrator and student assistant, she is currently involved in the project “Charting the Australian Fantastic”, lead by Bettina Burger and Lucas Mattila. Within the frameworks of the project, Anika Klose published two blog posts on Australian speculative fiction and held her own lecture on Jay Kristoff’s Empire of the Vampire. 

 
Anthony E. Dominguez 

Abstract: 

Split-Screen(s): Interfacing with Shibuya in The World Ends With You 

In 2007 Square Enix released the action role-playing game The World Ends with You for the portable Nintendo DS console. Players take on the role of Neku Sakuraba, a teenager drawn into the Reapers’ Game, a weeklong competition where participants must fight to survive. The battle system emphasizes using both screens of the Nintendo DS by allowing players to control two characters on the top and bottom screen respectively. Although The World Ends with You received critical acclaim, reviewers also found the battle system too frustrating. Later versions of the game, including a 2012 iOS and 2018 Nintendo Switch port, retweaked the battle system so as to fit on one screen. Yet, in shifting combat to one screen, these later iterations of The World Ends with You lack the complex relationship players build between themselves and to the game’s setting, the Shibuya ward in Tokyo, Japan vis-à-vis screens. In utilizing Shibuya, The World Ends with You integrates elements of Japanese youth culture into its gameplay, such as fashion and food which are used to enhance the player’s stats. Real locations from Shibuya also serve as locations in-game, such as the 109 department store. Often compared to Times Square, Shibuya’s own screens mediate the experience of Shibuya as a place of excitement and possibility. I argue then, that in emphasizing the locale of Shibuya in setting by engaging players through dual-screen technology, The World Ends with You mimics the shattered spatio-temporal subjectivity offered by urban screens. Consequently, the Nintendo DS console itself becomes a portable “node” of Shibuya, similar to the famous Hachiko statue or Tower Records. Yet, the Nintendo DS also exists as a a node between the boundaries of real and virtual space thereby reorienting our understanding of the local and global.  

Bio: 

Anthony Dominguez is a PhD candidate in Cinema Studies at NYU Tisch. He holds an MA in Film Studies from The Graduate Center City University of New York, and a BA in English and Film from the University at Albany. His dissertation focuses on Times Square, and the influence of global capitalism on public space, architecture, corporate advertising, and military powers. His research includes urban screens; Japanese media; and the late-cinema of Jean-Luc Godard. 

Anna Milon  

By My Hand Alone: Augmenting Live Action Role-Play Experiences through Writing.  

In response to the conference’s call to explore fantasy and the fantastic beyond the printed word, this paper focuses on fantasy Live Action Role-Play (LARP), a hobby that uses improvised collaborative storytelling to create an immersive world that players operate in. Despite the intangible nature of the LARP experience, written word is insidious within it. This paper explores both diegetic (letters written by characters) and non-diegetic (fanfiction written by players about their characters) written text in the Curious Pastimes LARP system. , While Role-Playing Games are often multimedia endeavours, they can be read as hypertexts which build on a printed source, such as a rulebook, and refer to popular media consumed by the players. Interpreting RPGs as text, Jessica Hammer proposes a three-tier system of authorship, where the primary author is the world-builder, the secondary author is responsible for the events that occur in the world, and the players are tertiary authors that create a text through playing the game. However, the presence of texts written by players suggests the existence of a fourth tier of authorship: one where players augment their experience of the game through the medium of written text. This paper explores the impact of these textual artefacts on gameplay and their influence on LARP as hypertext. 

Bio: 

Anna Milon is a third-year PhD student at the University of Exeter, where her project focuses on the Horned God in modern fantasy fiction and Live Action Role-Play. Anna holds a BA in English Literature from Royal Holloway, University of London, and an MA in Medieval Literatures and Languages from the University of York. She sometimes reviews speculative fiction for the Libri Draconis blog and has a penchant for silly hats. Her paper was in no small part inspired by the many Role-Play letters she both sent and received during lockdown. 

Arusharko Banerjee  

Abstract: 

A Study in Non-Anglophone Fantasy Literature: Graphic Re-presentation of the Mahabharata Mythology 

Countless works by Indian authors have variously re-imagined, or re-worked the mythological tales presented through the great Indian epics, namely the Ramayana and the Mahabharata. However, various contemporary Indian authors, most notably Amish Tripathi, Kevin Missal, Kavita Kane, Ananda Neelkantha, and Ravi Shankar Etteh besides re-working and re-presenting the mythological tales of the Ramayana and the Mahabharata, have also liberally added various popular science fiction and fantasy fiction tropes to their novels. Not only has this helped in adding new critical perspectives to these Indian epics; but also made these ancient tales extremely palpable to the young readers. With this in purview, the following paper wishes to look at two contemporary Indian re-workings of the Mahabharata, in the form of graphic novels, namely Shibaji Bandyopadhya’s Vyasa, and Amruta Patil’s Adi Parva and Sauptik. At the very outset the paper examines how and in what significant way does the medium of graphic representation significantly contribute in making the Indian epic Mahabharata very popular among the young Indian readers? In addition to this, the paper also wishes to examine, how representing various facets of the Mahabharata mythology have been deliberately represented in these graphic novels, using similar techniques used in fantasy fictions. Finally, the paper also wishes to throw light upon the fact, that how these graphic novels have been heavily influenced by the contemporary cinematic representations of superheroes, such that the epic heroes of the Mahabharata have been re-presented with touches of fantastical / science-fictional elements (such as having bionic arms or futuristic eye-pieces). Thus, the paper wishes to unravel how contemporary, non-Anglophone, fantasy literature, through its experimentations in genre and media, have significantly altered the art of story-telling.  

Bio: 

The author is presently employed as a lecturer in the department of English at Kidderpore College, Kolkata, West Bengal, India. The author holds a Master’s degree in English from Jadavpur University, and an MPhil degree in English from Viswa-Bharati, Shantiniketan. 

Barbora Kaplánková 

Abstract: 

One of These Things Is Not Like the Others: Princess Cursed in Time and The Issue of Czech Fantasy 

The Czech film lacks in large, culturally influential fantasy franchises akin to Harry Potter, but we are rich in films fitting into one particular category under the fantasy umbrella – the fairy tale film. Thanks to its long tradition the Czech (and Slovakian) culture houses countless princesses, princes, witches, water spirits, devils and exceptional commoners, often entangled in morally educational adventures, with a political allegory or two. And to this day, a new fairy tale is delivered every year on Christmas in prime time on TV, next to fairy tales that are several decades old and still very well loved. Interestingly though, the use of the term „fantasy“ in relation to these films is virtually non-existent. The most prominent examples of Czech fantasy are seemingly not being considered as such at all, judging from the media commentary and various Czechoslovakian film databases and online archives. That is, until Princess Cursed in Time (2020). This film bears the fantasy label on the Czechoslovakian Film Database, together with the fairy tale one, and that is the main subject of this paper. I aim to find out what differentiates Princess Cursed in Time from „just“ fairy tales (and so what prompted this difference in labeling) and what this could tell us about the relationship between these two terms in the Czech filmic landscape. I approach these questions by means of analysis of the film itself and its relation to fantasy, and of the media commentary focused on this film and the categories of filmic fantasy and fairy tale in general. Given that Princess Cursed in Time came along shortly after The Hastrman, which was a quite rare example of local mainstream fantasy for adults, I believe it could be considered yet another step in a new direction for Czech fantasy.  

Bio:  

Mgr. Barbora Kaplánková (*10. 10. 1994) attends a PhD. programme Theory and History of Theatre, Film, Radio and Television at Palacký University in Olomouc, Czechia. She graduated from a master’s programme (Film Studies and Television and Radio Studies) at said university in 2020. In her dissertation Barbora focuses on representation of binary gender in contemporary fantasy film franchises. She is interested in fantasy, horror, children’s film and animation, and so far contributed to two publications with articles on animation – one focused on work of Jan Švankmajer, the other on current events in the Czech film industry (2018). 

Bettina Charlotte Burger 

Abstract: 

From Trickster to Villain to LGBT icon – Loki God(dess) of Mischief Across Media  

In 2016, the Babadook, the eponymous monster of a 2014 Australian horror movie, was adopted as an icon by the LGBT community, and he remains perhaps the most famous monster/villain celebrated by LGBT fans, but he is far from the only one. The tendency to latch onto (often monstrous) villains in particular as a source of queer representation can be partially explained by a troubling history of queer-coding villainous characters in popular media. There are, however, multiple ways for a villain to become an LGBT icon, so to speak, including those where queerness is more explicitly present in the source material or where queer representation has been increasingly adopted by both official content creators and fans. In my talk, I want to explore how the character of Loki has changed and continues to change in terms of queerness as he travels across media. Within the Marvel universe (both cinematic and otherwise), the depiction of the Norse God of Mischief has undergone significant changes, perhaps fittingly for a literal trickster figure. I will mainly analyse Loki’s appearances in the MCU, in the collection Loki: Agent of Asgard, in Mackenzi Lee’s Young Adult novel, Loki – Where Mischief Lies, and in the trickster’s newest media appearance, the 2021 Loki series, to see how Loki’s queerness is alternatively read into the source material, embraced by it, or ambiguously hinted at. I will focus on how the representation of queerness changes from medium to medium and how these changes relate to a medium’s specific affordances or to changing acceptance of queerness within target audiences. Additionally, I will also take into account how Loki’s original queerness, stemming from the gender fluidity exhibited by the Norse god in The Poetic Edda, has contributed to Loki’s portrayals across media.  

Bio: 

Bettina Charlotte Burger is a research assistant, lecturer, and doctoral candidate at the Heinrich-Heine University of Dusseldorf. Their dissertation argues that fantasy literature ought to be considered as world literature in its scope and that world literary readings of individual examples of world fantasy are highly productive as well as necessary. They have co-edited a collection on Nonhuman Agencies in The Twenty-First-Century Anglophone novel as well as several articles in the field of speculative fiction. Additionally, they are a Digi Fellow and project co-leader for “Charting the Australian Fantastic”, for which they produce Open Educational Resources. 

Caighlan Smith 

Abstract: 

A Hero’s Morality Play: Epic Fantasy Heroes and Morality Mechanics in Video Games 

In considering Epic Fantasy, Tolkien inevitably comes to mind, alongside other more modern popular works such as Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire or Jordan’s The Wheel of Time. But what happens when the narrative tropes represented by such Epic Fantasy stories are channeled through the medium of video games? How does the story and the consumer’s reaction to the story change when the consumer is required to step into the shoes – or take up the sword – of the Epic hero themselves? In this presentation, I seek to analyze the ludonarrative operations (how gameplay and narrative work together to create the gaming experience) of several Epic Fantasy games which employ either explicitly or by implication morality mechanics through player in-game choice, such as the Fable series (2004-2010), the Dragon Age series (2009-2004), and The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (2011). I expose how allowing the player moral choice within such narratives might enhance player engagement to the narrative they are personalizing, but at the risk of disengaging players from the ethical implications of the choices they have made. To engage in morality mechanics through Epic Fantasy video games complicates player ethical involvement as (1) the fantastical setting places moral scenarios a step away from “reality” and (2) the player’s assumption of the hero role in these games often goes unchanged despite player actions; a player can lie, cheat, steal, murder, and still narratively retain the role of heroic savior in the main plot. This paper therefore seeks to investigate how the video game consumer’s moral playing of the hero – as opposed to the literature or film-consumer’s moral judgement of the hero – can change perhaps not the overarching glory of the Epic Fantasy hero plot but, and perhaps more insidiously, the day-to-day living as a hero in a virtual fantasy world. 

Bio: 

Caighlan Smith is a PhD student with the English Department of Memorial University of Newfoundland, holding a B.A. (Hons.) in English from Memorial University and an MLitt (with Distinction) in Fantasy from the University of Glasgow. Her current research interests include power dynamics, gender, monstrosity, fantasy, and hero narratives in video games. 

Carmen Hidalgo-Varo 

Abstract:  

Bridging Fact and Fiction through the Internet: Jasper Fforde´s Narratives 

One of the most outstanding characteristics of Jasper Fforde´s novels is the combination of different genres, such as Science Fiction, Dystopia, Uchronia, Satire or Fantasy, which he complements with huge amounts of verisimilitude and references to the outside-of-the-novel world. Besides, Fforde also has a website (www.jasperfforde.com) which, beyond being a platform for keeping readers updated with news, new books and upcoming events, also serves as an extension of his literary worlds. Readers who want to get extra features and information about any of the characters (e.g. there is a biography extension of the protagonist in The Eyre Affair, Thursday Next), places, companies (readers can access the website of one of the companies inThe Eyre Affair, the Goliath Corporation), celebrations, etc. in the novels, just have to dive into the Ffordian website. Using Gerard Genette´s well-known terms, it can be said that, within most of Fforde´s fiction, there are three levels of narration: the diegetic level, the metadiegetic level, and the extradiegetic level, which is outside the fictional world itself (225). According to this distinction, the aforementioned website is located within the extradiegetic level, since it does not belong to the fictional worlds. However, this websitein itself also possesses this narratological structure because Fforde extends the narration of his novels into the web. Thus, in the present paper, I want to explore how the Internet (his website) is the bridge between his books, the characters, and readers; also possessing an internal narrative organization that is interrelated with the one found in the novels, which creates a “double-sided” narration: the Internet is used as a tool for enriching the fiction that, otherwise, would “die” at the end of the books. Furthermore, I expect to conclude that Jasper Fforde creates several levels of narration that co-exist and depend on each other, even though they are found in different realms of narration. 

Bio:  

Carmen Hidalgo-Varo is a second year PhD student in Science Fiction and Social Engagement at the University of Granada, Spain. She has been awarded with an Arqus European University Alliance scholarship to carry out a research stay at the University of Graz (Austria), where she will stay until February 2022. Her main research interests include Science Fiction, Speculative Fiction, Postmodernism, Posthumanism, Social Engagement and Popular Literature. She is at present the co-moderator of the Writing Group of SAAS (Spanish Association of American Studies) Young Scholars and member of the research group GRACO: Studies in Literature, Criticism and Culture (HUM676) of the University of Granada. 

Carrie Spencer 

Abstract:  

From Side-line to Storyline: How the Inclusion of Parents on Supernatural Adventures in US Teen Telefantasy is Changing Constructions of Adolescence  

My paper will explore evolutions in televisual and narrative strategies of US teen fantasy television series since the 1990s through considering the shifting portrayals of parent-adolescent relationships. I utilize the culturally constructed, and therefore contingent, category of “telefantasy” (Johnson 2005) to explore the generic hybridity and continuous development of tropes, techniques and conventions in US teen fantasy series. Specifically I analyse “fantastic realism” in which fantastic (supernatural or alien) events or characters occur in a recognisable world but, crucially, in which “fantasy is not absorbed into reality; it remains strange and impossible either to the reader, or to the character it affects” (Waller 18). Fantastic realism demands attention to both socio-cultural conventions and unexpected external disruptions, fuelling the continuous development of genre combinations, visual styles and narrative strategies. To aid my analysis I apply the poetics of “complex TV” (Mittell 2015) developed in US programs since the 2000s to demonstrate that teen telefantastic-realism has progressively de-emphasised “teen issues” and the use of the fantastic as metaphor for the changes, power and marginalisation experienced by adolescent protagonists. To explore how US teen telefantastic-realism has evolved its televisual and narrative strategies for representing the “strange and impossible” within a recognisable textual world, I delineate the changing role of parent characters from attempts to be supportive (Buffy the Vampire Slayer) or provide guidance (Smallville), to involvement in adolescents’ battles against the supernatural (Teen Wolf), to parent and adolescent characters fighting alongside each other, each with their own supernatural storylines (Stranger Things). I argue that the development of US complex teen telefantastic-realism emphasises social issues and moral questions in response to the unexpected, reconstructing both adolescence and adulthood as uncertain and contingent. Through ongoing narrative negotiations of everyday expectations and “impossible” disruptions, US teen telefantastic-realism can offer reconstructions of socio-cultural and generic expectations.  

Bio:  

Carrie Spencer is a PhD researcher at the University of Cambridge (UK) applying care ethics to portrayals of Mad and ‘mentally ill’ mother characters in Young Adult literature. Carrie’s work on Maggie Stiefvater’s YA fantasy Raven cycle appears in Images of the Anthropocene in Speculative Fiction: Narrating the Future, Tereza Dědinová, Weronika Łaszkiewicz, Sylwia Borowska-Szerszun (eds), 2021. Her current work under review includes research on care ethics and masculinities in the Teen TV series Teen Wolf , and narrative patterns of bi-negativity in US YA novels of the past ten years. 

Christopher Lynch Becherer 

Abstract:  

Schisms in the Discworld Fandom, or, Who Watches The Watch 

The BBC series The Watch (2021) was the first major adaptation of Terry Pratchett’s Discworld novels for television. Coming to the screen six years after Pratchett’s death, the series was eagerly anticipated by fans, particularly as it focused on one of the most beloved strands of the Discworld: the bumbling and ineffective Night Watch. As casting announcements and publicity photos trickled out, however, and it became clear the series would depart dramatically from the original books in both look and tone, anticipation turned to nervous and critical speculation. My paper will examine the lead up to the first episode, deconstructing the fraught discussion within the fandom: while still in its chrysalis state, the BBC’s adaptation existed as a Rorschach test for what the Discworld can or should be in 2021. In the few short years following Pratchett’s death, the BLM movement and ACAB discourse cast a critical eye over representations of police in culture, and the culture wars over gender identity put a spotlight on the casting of a non-binary actor in the role of Cheri the Dwarf. In response, my paper will examine the letters pages of the Discworld Monthly, a long running online Discworld newsletter, particularly the exchanges provoked by a problematic letter bemoaning this new ‘woke’ adaptation of Pratchett’s work. Deconstructing this letter, and the responses to it from both readers and editors, allows us to reflect on the schisms in Pratchett’s huge international fandom. How can a supposed fan of Pratchett’s famously humanist works write a letter including racist jokes? How can the editors of this devoted newsletter dismiss angry reactions by stating that all opinions are valid? I will argue that reading the readers allows us to better examine how fantasy worlds continue to change and evolve long after the final page.  

Bio:  

Chris Lynch Becherer is a PhD student at the University of Glasgow, studying Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series. Awarded the 2015 Thomas Reid Bursary, he was the co-editor of the creative writing journal From Glasgow to Saturn from 2015 to 2016, and co-founder of the 2017 Glasgow International Fantasy Conversations symposium. in 2021 he co-founded the fantasy theatre company Puck’s Players! 

Devika Mehra and Supriya Baijal 

Abstract: 

Fantasy, Nation, and the Hindi televisual space: A Study of the T.V. Adaptation of Devki Nandan Khatri’s Chandrakanta 

This paper will investigate the implications of adapting a 19th-century epic fantasy Hindi novel for a post-liberalization Hindi society. Various scholars like Francesca Orsini, Arthur Dudney, Bharti Arora, and Aman Kumar have explored the combination of the dastan (storytelling) tradition, the fantastic Western literary tradition, and the experiments in Hindi literary prose during the colonial period. As Alok Rai points out, Chandrakanta represents a certain type of Hindu, and not Hindi, nation-state, yet the novel is strongly influenced by the Urdu dastan tradition with its references to Ayyars (spies, tricksters) and Tilism (sorcerer’s craft) as well as the ancient dastan of Amir Hamza. It is interesting to note the influence of this epic fantasy novel on the social fabric of Indian society through its various media adaptations since the 1990s. The 1994 adaptation comes with the advent of the satellite T.V. network, the upward mobility of the middle classes, and the developments in the T.V. serials’ narrative configurations. Just as the novel Chandrakanta was a modern Hindi best-seller, the 1994 T.V. adaptation is significant for its fame and cult following. The various shifts in the contemporary adaptation highlight two strands. Firstly, it represents an intrinsically Indian fantasy literary tradition rooted in modern Hindi prose and ancient Urdu dastan. Secondly, it mirrors the construction of nation and culture in Hindi T.V. serials. These shifts provide a new meaning to a pre-modern text and an older oral narrative tradition. The work is significant in its usage and influence of the oral, the print, and the televisual. Key Words: Dastan, Modern Hindi literature, Hindi novel, epic fantasy, Hindi T.V. serial. References: Rai, Alok. Hindi Nationalism, Tracts for the Times 13. Orient Longman, 2001.  

Bio: 

Dr Devika Mehra is a research associate in the School of English Literature, Language, and Linguistics at Newcastle University, UK. Her research interests include a study of cross-cultural connections across different cinematic traditions, issues of marginalisation and diversity in contemporary global children’s fiction, children’s visual and digital cultures. She has published and presented internationally in these areas.  
Ms Supriya Baijal is a research scholar in the Department of English Studies at Dayalbagh Educational Institute. Her research interests are children’s literature, literary theory, and texts of popular culture. She has recently presented a paper at Children’s Literature and Digital Humanities, the University of Antwerp 23rd-24th October 2020 and Samuel Beckett and the Anthropocene, Trinity College Dublin 4th-5th December 2020. 

Dipanwita Paul 

Abstract:  

Durga Meets The Avengers: How Fantasy Texts are reimagined in the religious festivities of Bengal  

Durga Puja, an autumnal Hindu religious festival celebrating the victory of the ten-armed goddess Durga over a buffalo demon, has emerged as a leitmotif to the global Bengali populace. The ten-day-long celebrations ranging from dedicated tv and radio programs, ritualistic retail practices, government endorsements, elaborate festivities with award and felicitations sponsored by corporate giants to venerate competing “”clubs”” and “”associations”” for producing the most innovative idols and pandals for the goddess, has developed into a billion dollar industry. “”Themed”” pandals and idols (colloquially known as “”Theme Pujo””) have become astronomic specimens of competitive showmanship where thousands of artists, artisans, technicians, etc. collaborate to crystallize the most unique and extravagant ideas, to draw lakhs of awestruck visitors every year. Despite being an ethnocentric religious festival, superheroes, wizards, Disney princesses pop up alongside the Goddess in some fictive consanguinity. Characters and scenes ranging from global fantasy giants like Harry Potter, Star Wars, Avengers, etc. not only appear as mere decorative pieces, they inspire newer, different narratives which even Durga partakes, to reinterpret the ancient religious myths and motifs. Therefore this paper traverses through decades of such “”Theme Pujas”” to investigate the negotiations and spatial relations in which the ancient Hindu religious rituals and these fantastic texts cohabit without hindering the religious ethos and sentiments of the local believers, worshippers, and spectators. The paper would also bring up the local narratives that have been woven surrounding the superheroes and wizards that may never reach the literary and filmic canon but have been enough to leave the quotidian local populace, with no awareness or exposure to the feats of Potter or Parker and yet welcoming them in their own homes, through their homegrown stories.  

Bio: 

Dipanwita Paul is a Queer Feminist-Activist, and a Graduate student of Jadavpur University (Kolkata), Department of English. They are a member of Women Against Sexual Harassment, and Das Theke Das Hajar, both forums combating sexual harassment in the workplace, and has been active participants in the Feminist, Queer Rights, Caste-Based, and Anti-CAA, NPR, NRC movements in India. 

Douglas A. Van Belle 

Abstract:  

Metal as Medium: An Artisan Bladesmith’s Insights into the Fantasy of Magical Weaponry 

Over the last half century, blacksmithery has rebounded from a trade on the verge of extinction to become a vast and thriving international artisan community, and in that rebirth, countless lost methods and techniques of the bladesmith have been rediscovered, or reinvented. Putting these formerly lost elements of the craft back into practice, particularly when considered in the context of a modern understanding of metallurgy, suggests that many characteristics of mythological weapons may be well-grounded in reality. Back when the formulation of iron and steel varied tremendously and unpredictably, even within a single batch made from a single source of ore, and working that steel was as largely an art that was cloaked in secrets and the inexplicable knacks and tricks that practitioners had developed through trial and error, legendary weapons may simply have been the product of occasional convergences of the right trace elements in the steel with the techniques that happened to maximise the qualities of that base material. Similarly, many aspects of fantastical weapons that is often ascribed to magic, such as an unnatural gleam or even a blue ‘glow,’ may reflect common, natural variations in trace amounts of nickel, cobalt, chromium or other alloying metals. Other ‘magical’ characteristics of weapons, such as the belief that a blade had an ego of its own, may simply reflect the challenges inherent in producing a long, thin blade. One of the more common impressions that inevitably arises in process of hand-forging a long blade is that the steel itself will seem to have a mind of its own. It is almost as if the blade is determined to take on a certain shape. These and other possibilities are explored by reflecting anecdotes and insights gleaned from forge upon the common tropes of fantasy and myth. 

Bio: 

Dr. Douglas A. Van Belle is a Senior Lecturer of Media and Communication at Victoria University of Wellington, a science fiction and fantasy novelist and screen writer, and the owner of Pleasantly Insane Forgery of Ohau, New Zealand. His academic research ranges from media’s effect on the politics of war and crisis, to the role of speculative fiction in the relationship between science and society. As a bladesmith he is known for producing custom designed knives for professional chefs around the world. 

Eilidh Harrower 

Abstract:  

“I’ll see you again in 25 years” – Liminal Boundaries of Genre, Time and Plot in ‘Twin Peaks 

‘Twin Peaks’ was created by David Lynch as a commentary on television of the late 80s in which cop dramas and murder mystery programmes ruled the screens, making murder and violence easily palatable for the masses. Within the structure of ‘Twin Peaks’, Lynch chooses to blend the realistic form and style of these cop dramas and mystery programmes with fantastic elements, placing the show in a category similar to that of ‘magic realism’. This blending of realism and fantasy, as well as the blurring of typical tropes of popular television at the time, immediately sets ‘Twin Peaks’ in a liminal space within the television medium. This liminality is only emphasised by the production timeline of the programme (the 25 year wait), as the television programme exists in a world of fiction and reality simultaneously. As it crosses the boundaries of genre, the show continues to push these liminal boundaries within its setting, plot and characters as well. The town of Twin Peaks exists at a liminal boundary, in which the fantastical world of “The Black Lodge” exists just beyond the veil. Once a person is exposed to the liminal boundary at work, they themselves inhabit a liminal space between Twin Peaks and “The Black Lodge” in which they become increasingly aware of discrepancies in the real world, while simultaneously becoming more knowledgeable of aspects of the fantastic. In this paper, I will explore the liminal aspects of ‘Twin Peaks’, including Lynch’s vision for the show, the way he engages with genre, the depiction of liminal boundaries and spaces within the narrative of the show, and how those boundaries and spaces influences characters within the show. I hope to move towards defining how Twin Peaks, and other works of fantasy like it, can be explored with regards to the liminal.  

Bio: 

Eilidh Harrower completed her MLitt English Literature at the University of Glasgow in 2021, in which she achieved Distinction. Her dissertation explored the connection between theatre studies and literary studies – originally training as an actor has shaped the interests Eilidh has. Her research interests include, but are not limited to, transmedial studies, horror, ecology, witchcraft and paganism, creative writing and experimental forms of literature. Eilidh had the honour of making her academic debut presenting at the Dissenting Beliefs conference held by the University of Glasgow, in December 2021, and is excited to continue her work in academia. 

Elizabeth Boothby 

Abstract: 

“Mom, it’s not you”: The Owl House, validation seeking, and the queerly-othered mother figure in children’s fantasy media  

This paper seeks to analyze and advocate for an often-overlooked form of queer representation in children’s fantasy media: that of the queer, socially awkward, adult mentor/ mother figure. This paper’s primary focus is the relationship between Luz, the queer child protagonist, and Eda, ‘the Owl Lady,’ in Dana Terrace’s animated Disney show, The Owl House. By ‘queer’ this paper refers to both explicitly LGBTQIA+ adults, as well as those who embody more metaphorical forms of non-conformity, such as an inability to exist in their fantastical society in a ‘normal’ way, i.e., lacking magic. This paper builds on studies of fan culture, queer theory, and disability theory – specifically M. Remi Yergeau and Nick Walker’s concept of “neuroqueerness” – in order to outline the social importance of the queerly-othered mother figure trope, as well as the ways in which The Owl House expands and improves upon it. The particular power of queerly-othered magical adults, like Eda, is that they are able to validate the child protagonist – and by extension many viewers – in a way their ‘real’ parents cannot, because of shared experiences of queer otherness and/or trauma. Eda represents, for both young queer viewers and chronically invalidated adult ones, an authentic, vulnerable, empowering queer adult who is capable of change and deserving of familial love. But in many of these narratives, the queer child feels they must choose between their ‘real’ parent and their magical ‘found’ one. The Owl House also engages directly with the pain of this perceived ultimatum, through Luz’s human mother, Camila. The Owl House therefore provides crucial representation of the diverse validation-seeking needs of queer and neuroqueer children, while simultaneously providing older viewers with a healing and affirming narrative of queer family co-making. 

Bio: 

M. E. Boothby (she/they) is a temporary, human-shaped assemblage of matter and microorganisms, currently existing on the traditional territory of the Beothuk and Mi’kmaq peoples, on the island of Newfoundland, Canada. They have studied at Queen’s University, the University of Edinburgh, and Memorial University, and their research explores the queer, neuroqueer, and ecocritical intersections of science fiction and fantasy, with an emphasis on how fiction can influence societal change. They have a soft spot for monsters, and like to write about apocalyptic fungi, intelligent cephalopods, and magical or mutant children. 

Emma French 

Abstract:  

  
This Was Supposed to be the Evil Game!’ – Playful and Critical Subversion in D&D and Dimension 20’s Escape from the Bloodkeep 

This paper will examine how Dungeons & Dragons (D&D) can be used to both playfully critique and subvert aspects of the fantasy genre and fantasy canon that it is often thought to enshrine. Utilizing Escape from the Bloodkeep – a livestreamed campaign produced by Dimension 20 – as a case study, I will look at implications of form: how D&D’s status as a game encourages satirical approaches to genre; the impact of its collaborative nature as a storytelling medium upon narrative structure; and how the informal and unofficial status of the stories produced encourages transformative readings of traditional texts. Escape from the Bloodkeep presents itself as a pastiche of J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, in which players roleplay the forces of evil, allied in a parodic version of Mordor and soon to be defeated by Middle Earth’s heroes. Initially, this cast of ‘vile villains’ begin by satirising Tolkien’s text, as well as tropes that it has helped to establish within wider fantasy genre culture. This playful and comedic approach reflects D&D’s nature as a game, as well as the Dimension 20 cast’s roots in improvised comedy. However, as the story progresses, the queer and BIPOC cast also produce critical feminist and queer interpretations of Tolkien’s work. In particular, the female and nonbinary players within this group – Erika Ishii, Rekha Shankar, and Amy Vorpahl – encourage an expansion of female points of view and feminine agency within the text, creating a counternarrative of nuanced relationships between powerful women, often relegated to the background of Tolkien’s world. The inherently collaborative structure of narratives created through D&D also results in a challenge to Tolkien and other fantasy authors’ representation of evil. Both these (re)interpretations are examples of tertiary authorship within TRPG narratives (Jessica Hammer, 2007). Players are given equal authority to the game system when crafting their story, and use this empowered narrative agency to question the traditions of genre fantasy.  

Bio:  

Emma French (she/her) is currently studying for a PhD in Fantasy Literature at the University of Glasgow. Her thesis examines how Dungeons & Dragons consolidates notions of fantasy, while also giving players agency to subvert genre convention. She is a member of the Glasgow International Fantasy Conversations committee, and an editor at Mapping the Impossible: Journal for Fantasy Research. Her current player characters include a sad vampire paladin, a traumatised sorcerer, and an actually pretty well-adjusted wizard. 

Eva McLean 

Abstract: 

‘How strange and brief all of this is’: What Remains of Edith Finch, Empathy and Liminal Fantasy  

What Remains of Edith Finch (2017) is not considered a horror game, but that does not stop it from being one of the most haunting games ever created. The BAFTA award winning video game features fantastical elements, but this paper argues that what makes the narrative compelling is the way that it manages to mirror the tragedies of reality. Each member of the Finch family meets their untimely demise as experienced by the player through the harrowing use of first-person gameplay. Whether this is down to a family curse, or a string of bad luck is never confirmed and this is only the beginning of the liminal space the text grapples with. There are no ghosts in the fantastical sense, but the Finch house is haunted with the memories of those who once called it home. Therefore, in this paper I will study this blend between the fantastical and the mundane with regard to liminal fantasy. To do this, this paper draws upon Farah Mendlesohn’s taxonomy focusing on her category of ‘liminal fantasy.’ This paper also assesses how player agency can have considerable power in terms of creating investment and conjuring empathy. The inclusion of first-person gameplay places the player into this mundane setting to ‘experience alternate situations and ways of being human’ (Isbister 2017:8), highlighting the game as a unique medium for engaging in empathy. Ultimately, it is a game that features a great deal of death, but in doing so teaches us to embrace life. Edith is fearful of the house in the beginning, and she is right to be – while there are no ghosts within the walls, the game hints at something far more terrifying: our own mortality. Therefore, this paper further unpacks Jesper Juul’s point that, ‘perhaps: when playing games, we are all philosophers’ (Juul 2013:43). 

Bio: 

Eva McLean completed her English Literature Postgraduate with Distinction at the University of Glasgow focusing on the overlap between ecology, creative writing and visual art. Eva also earned her English Literature Honours degree at the same university with her thesis on the study of Ekphrasis and Nineteenth-Century Literature. Eva volunteers as a moderator for the Centre for Fantasy and the Fantastic and an illustration of hers is published on the Centre blog. Her research interests are in the digital humanities, environmental humanities, ekphrasis and creative writing. Eva is undergoing a publishing internship and runs a bookstagram in her free time. 

Gabriel Elvery   

Abstract: 

Fantastic Friends and Where to Find Them: Fantasy Friendships with Video Game Characters 

This paper outlines my theory of the Digital Fantastic – a theoretical framework for understanding the fantastic in video games, created using applied player reception theory. The Digital Fantastic salvages Todorov’s (1973) theory of hesitation for use in Game Studies to examine players’ relationships with Fantasy characters. The theory posits that hesitation is created in video games via the evocation of real emotions felt for fictional characters, eliding the binary between experiences which are considered ‘real’ and those considered Fantasy: the fictional nature of characters is forgotten – even if fleetingly. Video games that focus on social interaction, including elements of game breaking and meta-commentary (such as Mystic Messenger and Doki Doki Literature Club) serve as generative sites of hesitation capable of facilitating parasocial interaction (Horton and Wohl, 1956) when played in an involved mode. Relationships with Fantasy characters that feel real, cause players to move beyond the easy simultaneity of Saler’s (2011) theory of ‘double consciousness’ and treat characters with the gravity of off-screen interaction. To demonstrate my theory, I outline my analysis of the video game Undertale, using Fantasy and media theory, supported by player responses gathered from comments and reviews. I selected Undertale due to the outspoken nature of its fanbase, whose responses drew my attention to the quality of the parasocial relationships it facilitates. My conclusion will reflect on the practical applications of my theory by considering how hesitation can be used to help students develop a playstyle that encourages critical immersion. It is my intention that the theory of the Digital Fantastic can be used to help make players cognizant of the workings of video games to reap the social and educational benefits of affective engagement with digital fantasy worlds.  

Bio: 

Gabe 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. 

Hannah Barton 

Abstract: 

The Weathering is Magical: The Mundane Moments in Climate Change 

This paper will analyze the anime movie Weathering With You (2019) as an exploration of how magical realism, when used with climate narratives, can present the magical in a mundane manner. Weathering With You (WWY) demands that we reflect on what this paper argues as ‘magic in the mundane’ as director Madoko Shinkai reflects on the connection we share with the weather. WWY tells the story of a drowning Tokyo amid an everyday love story between two teenagers: Hodaka, a runaway in search of a new life; and Hina, a young girl that discovers a shrine that gives her the ability to make the sunshine through the rain, giving her the title of ‘sunshine girl.’ First, this paper will discuss WWY as a magical realism text as it presents the fantastic in a mundane manner as it juxtaposes the real and the unreal. This will be analyzed through both the narrative of the ‘sunshine girl’ myth, based on teru teru bozu, or the sunshine doll myth, while also analyzing WWY’s physical setting itself in terms of the animation of the sky, clouds, and the rain. This animation is not only key for anime as a medium, but also for WWY’s story, mythology, and climate narrative. Second, as the citizens of Tokyo accept Hina as the ‘sunshine girl’, Shinkai uses magical realism to help depict a flooding city through a children’s love story. The movie’s climate narrative as magic within the mundane exposes both the profound environmental responsibilities that Hina shoulders throughout the movie, while also expressing that climate narratives can be more than apocalyptic: they can be about people, their relationships, and the choices they make. These connections in WWY display the conjunction of anime’s power as a medium to expand magic within the mundane and how we can dismantle boundaries between us and the natural world. 

Bio:  

Hannah is a PGT Fantasy student at the University of Glasgow. She has presented papers at ICFA 2020 conference, Cappadocia University’s Pandemic Imaginaries conference, and the Society for Comparative Literature and the Arts (SCLA) conference. Hannah has also written works for U.S. Studies Online (USSO) over Tolkien’s literary cartography and for the Centre for Fantasy and the Fantastic’s Dungeons and Dragon’s event. Her research concerns Climate Imaginaries, New-Weird, Horror, Spatiality studies, Ghost studies, and Game studies. 

Iana Nikitenko 

Abstract: 

Nostalgia and the Challenges of the Modern World in “Chilling Adventures of Sabrina”  

People used to reconstruct old stories, in particular those they first contacted with during their childhood or adolescence (Bortolotti and Hutcheon, 2007), thus adapting the plots to modern reality, both through the coverage of new topics of concern for society and through their expansion to different media platforms, including transmedial expansions of the plot. Thus, these stories are given a “”second life”” through modernization and various extensions. Based on the example of Netflix adaptation of Sabrina Spellman’s story — “”The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina”” (2018-2020), where a modern agenda has been added to the original plot, affecting issues of feminism, gender, and racial discrimination, this paper will examine how nostalgia-based narrative can be merged with the inclusion of modern socio-political issues. The presence of nostalgia in this series has already been studied from the point of view of characters’ sentimental longing for the past and the audience’s desire to find all the references to popular culture (Sean Tiffee et al., 2020), alongside with a feminist agenda of the show (Brüning, 2021; Henesy, 2020), but the relationship of nostalgia with the adaptation of the plot and characters to modern realities has not yet been outlined. This work aims to understand the reconstruction of the image of Sabrina Spellman in the Netflix new version to demonstrate the influence of nostalgia and the outside world context on the formation and change of the identity of both the main characters and the audience, focusing on the potential nature of the relationship between the viewer and the main character and the reasons for this interaction (Rain and Mar, 2021), answering the question — how did the creators of the series manage to both maintain the nostalgic authenticity of the plot and modernize it, thus pleasing fans of the old story and recruiting new ones?  

Bio: 

Iana Nikitenko is an Erasmus Mundus Master granted student in Children’s literature, Media and Culture in the School of Education department, University of Glasgow. She holds a BA in Media Communications from the National Research University “”Higher School of Economics””, Moscow, Russia, where she worked as a teaching assistant in Transmedia and Cinema Studies courses. Her main research interests centre around children’s literature and media, transmedia studies, comics, and identity construction.

Ida Yoshinaga  

Abstract: 

Fantasy Modes that Fuel Sadcoms: the Generic (Genre) Labor of Millennial Community Expression Innovates Televisual Pre-production Cultures 

When literary scholars Rosemary Jackson and Tzvetan Todorov came up with their classical conceptualizations of fantasy, they could not have imagined the deft, hyper-discursive uses of this flexible genre today. For fantasy is not only, as Jackson might have imagined it, a “literature of subversion” against unjust societal structures, but (perhaps more conservatively speaking), one that fuels personal coping and adaptation—so as to lay down the work of critical self-exploration and self-expression to occur parallel with, if not prior to, political challenges to oppressive social institutions. Neither is it, as Todorov had envisioned, merely a hesitational midpoint between a reader deciding whether a storyworld’s event is either uncanny (explicable by the laws of science) or marvelous (supernatural and thus not cleaving to those physical rules); rather, going against this theorist’s artificial limits of fantasy, the genre can function poetically as figuration and allegorization—operations that actually underplay the hesitating tension of whether what is occurring is, in fact, real—in favor of sneakier, far more abstract narrative conventions: enjoyable metaphorical “play” that Todorovian approaches the genre under-emphasize. This paper explores these coping and ludic aspects of fantasy as a hybridizable genre modality, by turning to the mid-2010s innovation in television, cable, and streaming narrative media of the “sadcom,” the dark and cynical, often absurdist and nihilistic, socially observant, small-screen comedy (e.g., Bojack Horseman, Lodge 49, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, Mary + Jane, Happyland, Atlanta). Sadcoms build upon fantastical modalities which arouse a sense of whimsy, speculation, wonder, liminality, and terror among viewers, to allow them to survive a savagely oppressive neoliberalist era and to delight in imaginative yoga for deeper thought, so as to be reassured of their humanity.  

Bio: 

Ida Yoshinaga, Assistant Professor of Science Fiction Film at the Georgia Institute of Technology, serves as Vice-President of the Science Fiction Research Association. She has co-edited Uneven Futures: Strategies for Community Survival from Speculative Fiction (with Sean Guynes and Gerry Canavan, MIT Press, 2022) and has published in Science Fiction Film & Television, The New Ray Bradbury Review, The Routledge Companion to Media and Fairy Tale Cultures, Postmodern Interpretations of Fairy Tales, and Marvels & Tales. She helps produce Indigenous cinema including the award-winning “Sina Ma Tinirau” (2021, dir. Vilsoni Hereniko), and specializes in pre-production, story development, and screenwriting. 

Jack Fennell  

Abstract:  

Thermonuclear Druid Power: ‘Post-Truth’ Fantasy and the Re-evaluation of the Celt  

At the end of September 2021, a fund-raising campaign was launched for an American web series named “”Celtics,”” which purported to tell the story of “the Celtics” and their fight against the “globalist” Roman Empire. Following an initial spat with Irish and Scottish pagans on social media, the series was brought to the attention of the wider population when the director pre-emptively blocked anyone who might criticise his pet project – which turned out to be the majority of Twitter users in Ireland, Scotland and Wales, many of whom had never interacted with the company’s account at all. Now alerted to the production’s existence, Twitter users of the ‘Celtic Nations’ gleefully descended on Celtics’ promotional materials, which revealed an idiosyncratic fantasy world combining racist rhetoric with a jumbled pantheon of Celtic gods, poorly understood mythology, bad linguistics, and invented history – including elves, set designs resembling Star Wars’ Ewok village, and a Gallo-Roman god depicted as an Irish sun deity with “thermonuclear druid power.” The director responded to the few critics who had not been blocked by insisting on the literal truth of everything the series was intended to depict. In this paper, I want to use this particular omnishambles as a starting-point to examine a recent popular re-evaluation of the use of ‘Celtic’ imagery in fantasy fiction, which includes social media backlashes against the Anglicisation of Gaelic names in American film production, the haphazard blending of generic ‘Celtic’ signifiers with those of other cultures (often Native American) in RPG rulebooks and supplements, and the use of Irish, Gaidhlig, Scots or Welsh as ‘discount Elvish’ in fantasy literature. I wish to discuss the extent to which such backlashes are required, and to what extent are they counterproductive.  

Bio:  

 Jack Fennell teaches at the University of Limerick. He is the author of “Irish Science Fiction” (2014) and “Rough Beasts: Monstrosity in Irish Literature, 1800-2010” (2019), both from Liverpool University Press, and the editor of “Sci-Fi: A Reader” (Peter Lang, 2019); his other academic writing includes essays on utopian fiction, comic books, gender identity in Star Trek, and vampires. He compiled the anthologies “A Brilliant Void” (2018) and “It Rose Up” (2021) for Tramp Press, containing lesser-known Irish science fiction and fantasy stories, respectively, and his own fiction has been published in a number of speculative fiction anthologies. 

James G. Lowder 

Abstract: 

There’s so much more to discover before the world ends 

Walking Through Ruins and Encountering Entropy in Horizon Zero Dawn., “In recent years geographers have reflected on their experiences of walking through ruinous landscapes in order to creatively engage with themes of ruination and entropy (Brettell, 2016; Edensor, 2016). This paper reflects upon these ideas in relation to contemporary video games, exploring what it means to ‘walk through’ the ruins of a virtual landscape. This paper will focus on Guerrilla Games’ Horizon Zero Dawn (2017) and its sequel Horizon Forbidden West (2022). Horizon Zero Dawn is an open-world role-playing game set in a post-apocalyptic United States that is strewn with debris left behind by the ‘Old Ones’. The story follows Aloy on her quests through a world overrun by an array of animal-like machines and inhabited by diverse tribal groups. Horizon Zero Dawn has been described as a ‘techno-fantasy’ (Maher, 2021) that “feels like a combination of a classic fantasy adventure novel – with Aloy leaving a peaceful valley much as Bilbo Baggins left the Shire – and a 1980s pulp post-apocalyptic film, albeit with higher production value” (Hudgins, 2016: para. 3). Of particular interest to this paper is the role of ruination within these games, especially the encounters players have with the ruins and the place of these decaying structures in the broader narrative. Additionally, the presence of Ruinenlust in these games is considered, including how ruins contribute to the aesthetic appeal and fictitious setting. Overall, this paper broadly highlights the utility of fantasy media in interdisciplinary work, specifically arguing that Horizon Zero Dawn offers players an opportunity to engage with unique entropic landscapes and to reflect on Earth’s ecological well-being.  

Bio: 

James is an interdisciplinary PhD student in the School of Geographical and Earth Science at the University of Glasgow. His current research considers the material and cultural relations humans have with outer space in the Anthropocene, including reflecting upon society’s expansion into outer space and how humankind’s relationship with the Earth could change in the near and far future. His work involves considering fictional narratives, in order to unpack cultural perceptions of life in an entropic universe. 

Julia Jin Wang 

Abstract: 

Disrupting Constructions of “Abledness”: A Neo-Daoist Reading of Fantasy Cultivation in Eternal Love 

This paper examines representations of fantasy cultivation in the 2017 Mandarin-language television series 三生三世十里桃花 (Eternal Love), adapted from the 2011 webnovel of the same name. I define “fantasy cultivation” as sustained self-practice that changes one’s ontology to having more magical capability. If considered solely from a Western philosophical tradition of self and nature, characters wanting ontological change might instinctively trigger discomfort. However, this discomfort indicates Eurocentric acceptances of subjectivities and embodiments. Such a reading of Eternal Love would be flat. Instead, my approach lies in the mutual disturbances and resonances between 郭象 (Guo Xiang)’s Neo-Daoist Commentary on the Zhuangzi (~300 C.E.) and contemporary (dis)ability theories. Neo-Daoist notions of 无 (wu, “nothingness,” “nonbeing”) and 自然 (ziran, “nature”) could explore the complexities of Eternal Love’s visual and auditory representations and its dialogue, since contemporary Mandarin still has many roots in Daoism and Neo-Daoism. Put into contact with (dis)ability theories, Guo’s philosophy emphasizes the counterbalance in the notion of disability: that ability is also diverse. In Eternal Love, Bai Qian, a princess of the fox-deity clan, enters a cultivation school to change her ontology. She starts as a deity, ascends to high deity and then to high god. After each ontological change, her fashu (magic) augments in capability and capacity. To consider ability diversity via the metaphoric potentials of Eternal Love’s fantasticality, I dissect ability’s material aspect into “capability” (diversity such as physical, affective, and neuro) and “abledness” (one’s position against the schematic prototype of an abled individual, which relates to but differs from social powers of “ableness”). I will examine Bai Qian’s capabilities and abledness at each ascendance to argue that her cultivation representation disrupts the tie between capability and value, thereby disrupting the construction of abledness and destabilizing the concept of being disabled. 

Bio: 

 Julia Jin Wang is a Ph.D. Candidate at Cambridge University’s Centre for Research in Children’s Literature, writing on the impact of fantasy multiverse narrative world-building on reader affects of alienation and familiarization. She spends a lot of time thinking about the interplay between language, world-building, emotion, and experiential meaning, and how such processes generate the stance from which we take action with or against each other. In addition to fantasy studies, she is interested in spatiality, interculturality, translation studies, image-text, and monsters. 

Kate Fry and Rebecca Gault 

Abstract:  

Desired Realities: Reality Shifting and Portal Quest Fantasy 

Reality Shifting is a trend that became popular in fan spaces on the social media app TikTok during the fall of 2020. Allegedly, Reality Shifting uses meditative techniques to allow an individual to move their consciousness from their current reality into a desired reality that can be scripted to the individual’s desires. On TikTok, Reality Shifting is predominantly practiced within certain fantasy fan cultures–– Harry Potter and the Marvel Cinematic Universe to name some of the most popular. Fans adopt the settings of these fantasy worlds for the desired realities and interact with the characters there. While the validity of the claims that Reality Shifting allows individuals to travel to literal alternate realities is questionable, the practice’s existence as a social phenomenon may prove enlightening for the study of fantasy and fan culture. The practice appears to mirror Farah Mendlesohn’s conceptualization of Portal-Quest fantasy–– in which a protagonist ” leaves her familiar surroundings and passes through a portal into an unknown place” (1). The comparison between the two offers a fruitful approach in which to explore the ways in which Portal-Quest fantasy is being recontextualized in digital spheres as a physical practice and one that has its own dedicated community. This paper aims to examine the exact interplay between the Portal-Quest genre and the fan culture practice of Reality Shifting, and any formal influences the former may have on the latter.  

Bio:  

Kate Fry is an MLitt student studying Fantasy Literature at the University of Glasgow. She completed a BA in English Literature at the University of Victoria, where she also served as Editor-in-Chief of the Warren Undergraduate Review. Her writing has previously appeared in Prism International and The Albatross.  
Rebecca Gault is an MLitt student on the Fantasy Literature program at the University of Glasgow and, prior to this, received a MA in English Literature at the University of Glasgow Her research is predominantly concerned with the tradition of comic books, queer studies, fan culture, horror and the Gothic.  

Kat Humphries 

Abstract:  

 “What’s this cheery singing all about?”: Fantasy television and the musical episode 

According to the character Dean Winchester, there is no singing in Supernatural (2005-2020). Yet the very episode in which Dean makes this claim, “Fan Fiction”, features several musical numbers, with tongue-in-cheek lyrics and titles such as “The Road So Far” and “A Single Man Tear” – metatextual in-jokes for the show’s devoted fanbase. “Fan Fiction” could be considered a musical episode, defined in The Cambridge Companion to the Musical as “the stand-alone musical episode of a typically non-musical series” (Lodge, 2017). An earlier example is the critically acclaimed “Once More, With Feeling” from Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1997-2003), and the musical episode continues to crop up in modern fantasy television shows such as Once Upon a Time (2011-2018) and Lucifer (2016-2021). The musical episode slots particularly well into the fantasy genre, where the narrative can provide a ‘reasonable’ explanation for characters bursting into song – be it a spell, a demon, or even a visit from God. The format is identified by tvtropes.org as a way of doing “Something Completely Different”, departing from a show’s usual formula in order to liven things up. This is not, however, the extent of the musical episode’s power – writing in Music, Sound, and Silence in Buffy the Vampire Slayer (2010), Diana Sanders and Rhonda V. Wilcox note that the musical episode “employs the musical’s key formal structure of song and dance to convey character and narrative information more succinctly and profoundly than is possible through the series’ usual narrative structure”. This paper will explore the ways in which different fantasy television shows have employed the musical episode, examining the impact the format has on character and narrative and why these episodes continue to appear in many contemporary series – often highly-anticipated and enthusiastically received by audiences.  

Bio:  

Kat Humphries studied the MLitt in Fantasy Literature at the University of Glasgow, UK. Her dissertation explores the figure of the monster hunter hero in American Fantasy television, focusing specifically on Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1997-2003) and its impact on subsequent shows Supernatural (2005-current) and Grimm (2011-2017). Kat is currently pursuing her research as an independent scholar alongside working full time as a Project Manager. Her wider research interests include the rehabilitation of fictional villains, young adult media, and fat studies. 

Katarina O’Dette 

Abstract:  

It’s Not Fantasy, It’s HBO: Filtering Genre through Channel Brands 

Over the past four decades, genres have become increasingly useful to the US television industry for their marketing potential. Scholars like Gary R. Edgerton and Kyle Nicholas have observed that, in an increasingly cluttered television environment, genres are shifted and redefined to suit the branding needs of channels. This process can render a televisual genre vulnerable to contestation as different channels repurpose a genre in diverging ways to suit their unique brands. This paper explores the differing ways in which fantasy was positioned by two channels, HBO and Syfy, through the marketing of their respective tentpole fantasy series of the 2010s: Game of Thrones (2011-2019) and The Magicians (2015-2020). In promotional discourses, HBO executives portrayed fantasy (when not produced by HBO) as poorly crafted and childish. In marketing materials, they sought to distance GoT from the genre by emphasizing the non-fantasy genres in the series and referring to fantasy largely through euphemism. When they did acknowledge GoT as fantasy, they positioned the channel itself as the author of a new, subversive, “adult” version of the genre. By contrast, Syfy’s marketing attempted to capitalize on the popularity of fantasy and science fiction by emphasizing the link between The Magicians and existing fantasy traditions, thereby marketing the channel’s genre expertise. While HBO’s channel brand relied on promoting a subversive relationship with fantasy, Syfy’s brand relied on promoting a relationship rooted in the genre’s traditions. By filtering the genre through the needs of their brands, their marketing campaigns promoted two different ideas of what fantasy television was. As channels in a so-called “cord-cutting era,” HBO and Syfy are under pressure to prove their unique contributions to their parent companies. Genre becomes a tool to justify their continued independent existences as channels: a tool both used and warped by the brands that wield them. 

Bio: 

Katarina O’Dette (she/her) is a Film and Television Studies PhD candidate at the University of Nottingham whose research centres on fantasy television, genre studies, and media industry studies. She holds a BFA in screenwriting from the University of Southern California and an MLitt in Fantasy from the University of Glasgow. She serves as Programming Co-Chair on the GIFCon 2022 organizing committee and as a general editor on Mapping the Impossible: Journal for Fantasy Research. Her research can be found in Extrapolation, Fantastika Journal, Slayage, and A Shadow Within: Evil in Fantasy and Science Fiction. 

Kim Wilkins 
 

Abstract: 

Born Convergent: Young Adult Fantasy across Platforms and Media 

Young adult fantasy fiction (YAF) is big international business: consistently growing in value and volume, and outselling adult fantasy fourfold. These books also serve as source texts for adaptations across platforms, including film, television, videogames, merchandise, e-commerce, fan fiction, and colouring books. The varied cultural experiences that gather around these books fulfill Henry Jenkins’ 2008 definition of convergence as “the flow of content across multiple media platforms, the cooperation between multiple media industries, and the migratory behaviour of media audiences…in search of the kinds of entertainment experiences they want”. There is a clear trend towards convergence in contemporary YA publishing, driven by readers and, importantly for this paper, leveraged by industry. This paper aims to show the ways that genre is both constituted by and constitutive of industrial processes and practices. I argue that when the genres of young adult fiction and fantasy fiction are combined in YAF, their industry and audience orientations amplify each other, disposing the texts towards seriality, franchising, licensing, and widespread digital sociality (both official and unofficial). These emerging logics of 21st-century publishing respond to the industry’s need for reproducible financial success, and the audience’s need for reproducible reading experiences. An emerging orientation towards convergence and reproducibility locates YAF at the centre of change in contemporary book culture.  

Bio: 

Professor Kim Wilkins is a recognised expert on creative practice, popular literature, and the publishing industry. She is the author of more than 30 full-length works of fiction, and her work is translated into more than 20 languages globally. Her scholarly research centres on creative communities, such as writing groups and fan cultures. She led the ARC-funded project “Genre Worlds: Popular Fiction in the 21st Century” from 2016-2019, and is most recently the author, with Dr Lisa Bennett, of a monograph on bestsellers and the tension between art and industry (Cambridge University Press, 2021). 

Louise Child 

Abstract:  

Tricksters and Skinwalkers: Ambivalent Animism in Indigenous Religions and Native American and Canadian Films. 

In this paper I explore Native American film and television shows that draw from traditional indigenous stories to create animist characters such as tricksters that may inspire fear, but also place Native persons at the centre of the dramas. Skinwalkers, (2002) uses a detective story set on a Navajo reservation to explore contemporary issues such as the poisoning of land and water by powerful interests and conflicts between indigenous and western medicine. Dreamkeeper (2003) explores complex inter-generational conflicts and how they may be healed through storytelling traditions, including trickster stories, while Smoke Signals (1998) also explores how stories heal relationships between fathers and sons and acts itself like a trickster, using humour to challenge stereotypes. Most recently, the Canadian television production Trickster (2020) explores tricksters, shapeshifters, and witches in ways suggestive of animist emphases on balance between persons in human and other forms, showing how the colonial experience, including residential schools, has damaged that balance. Moreover, it examines maternal as well as paternal lineage and conflict. Set in British Columbia and exploring the coming of age of a Haisla teenager called Jared, the trickster is depicted as both an essential part of the cycle and balance between sacred beings, and as a source of potential evil when he refuses to relinquish his powers. Between them, these productions place tricksters squarely in the context of modern indigenous lives. Filled with humour, danger, and life lessons about the precarious balance between transformative power and the wisdom of impulse control, these stories offer many themes that have traditionally been of interest to scholarship on the trickster, while at the same time offering personal, individual, stories of survival and resilience that challenge dominant hierarchies.  

Bio:  

Dr. Louise Child is a Lecturer in Religion, Film and Television at Cardiff University. She has research and teaching interests in the anthropology of religion, indigenous film and television, and gothic studies. She has published papers on indigenous film and popular film and television and has co-edited (with Aaron Rosen) the book Religion and Sight, published by Equinox in 2020. Her forthcoming book Dreams, Vampires, and Ghosts: Anthropological Perspectives on the Sacred and Society in Film and Television is due to be published by Bloomsbury in 2022. 

Madalena Daleziou 

Abstract: 

Representations of Disability in Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood and Dororo 

Animation offers unique possibilities for engagement with body politics; Suzan Napier argues that “animation […] is particularly suited to the fantastic mode due to its tremendous flexibility,” with bodily metamorphoses and artificial bodies becoming more easily representable (124). Japanese anime, especially, involve a wide range of genres and conventions, which allow controversial treatments of the body to be depicted more plausibly than in live-action media (Denison 51). This paper considers disability representations in Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood (2009) and Dororo (2019). Both anime feature disabled main characters and explore their identity construction in relation to the body. The series’ fantastic elements and their anime-specific tropes allow the imagination of extremes such as the near-total absence of a body and societal perceptions about such bodies. Both anime feature extremely advanced prosthetics, which render the characters fully mobile and capable of defeating able-bodied opponents, allowing supercrip connotations. Sami Schalk defines the supercrip as “a stereotypical representation of disability” in visual media (72). With this term in mind, FMAB and Dororo might be dismissed as negative disability representations. Yet, as Schalk proposes, rather than completely dismissing such works, it might be useful to study them in their “representational context” identifying flaws but also positive aspects, where applicable (84, 76). Studying the main characters’ identity construction in relation to their bodies, cases of overcompensation, and their problematic preoccupation with ‘fixing’ their bodies, but also positive depictions, reveals that these representations offer insights on genre and medium conventions, broadening our understanding of stereotypes, suggesting ways to achieve more empowering future representations. 

Bio: 

Madalena Daleziou earned her undergraduate degree in English Language and Literature from the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens. She then studied the Fantasy MLitt at the University of Glasgow. Her research interests include animals in fantasy, dystopian literature, body politics in manga and anime, the works of Robin Hobb, and Children’s and YA literature. Madalena is a fantasy writer whose work is currently available or forthcoming in the other side of hope, The Deadlands, and other venues. 

Maria Arvaniti  

Abstract:  

Finding the Cyclolotogorgocircilarizo: Folklore and identity in the fantasy plays of Xenia Kalogeropoulou 

In the short century since the burning of Smyrna in 1922 and the subsequent translocation of Asia Minor’s Greek population to the ‘mainland’, the idea of ‘Greekness’ has undergone a number of transformations. Indeed, since the country’s recognition of autonomy in the 19th century, its relationship with Turkey and the four centuries of Ottoman rule has remained a controversial topic in schools, universities, and amongst the general population. Born less than fifteen years after that uprooting to a family of refugees, Xenia Kalogeropoulou (1936-now) is an actress, director, and playwright who has been active in the Greek stage since 1965, and working exclusively on Children’s Theatre since 1972. In 1984 she opened her own theatre “Porta” (Door) with an adjacent stage dedicated to Children’s Theatre called “Mikri Porta” (Little Door). Mikri Porta has been a fertile creative space for Kalogeropoulou, providing her with the space and resources to write and stage over thirty plays for children. Between a number of translations, adaptations and co-written works, her own original plays Οδυσσεβάχ (Ulyssinbad 1982), Eλίζα (Eliza 1992), and To Σκλαβί (The Slave Boy 2000) shine through with their uniquely Greek identity. In her theatrical work, Kalogeropoulou approaches Greek identity as an amalgamation of varied and often contrasting influences similar to her invented Cyclolotogorgocircilarizo, the treasure at the end of Ulyssinbad’s journey that turns out to be nothing less than the collection of adventures that led him back to his home country after a perilous journey. This paper will use the three aforementioned plays to explore how children’s fantasy theatre offers creators a space to explore the chimeric nature of national identity, modern mythology and meaning making.  

Bio: 

Marita Arvaniti is a Greek PhD student in the University of Glasgow, investigating the lasting effect theatre has had in the birth and evolution of contemporary fantasy literature. She holds a BA in Theatre Studies from the National Kapodistrian University of Athens and an MLitt in Fantasy Literature from the University of Glasgow. She is a member of the University of Glasgow’s Centre for Fantasy and the Fantastic, and the Administrative Assistant for the Once and Future Fantasies Conference. 

Marta Miquel-Baldellou 

Abstract: 

Traces of Gaston Leroux’s ‘Le Fantôme de l’Opéra’ in Alejandro Amenábar’s ‘Abre los Ojos’ 

Although it was published in the year 1910, Gaston Leroux’s novel ‘Le Fantôme de l’Opéra’ evokes and recreates characters, themes and motifs that typify the nineteenth-century Gothic romance. Featuring a Romantic hero, Erik, who is endowed with extraordinary artistic gifts, but is also considered an outcast, Leroux’s novel portrays a world that oscillates between the marvellous and the uncanny, which is where Tzvetan Todorov claims that the fantastic lies. Leroux’s novel has captivated contemporary audiences through numerous film adaptations, plays, and musicals. Shortly after its publication, ‘Le Fantôme de l’Opéra’ gave way to a prolific series of transmedia adaptations, which ranged from acknowledged adaptations faithfully based on Leroux’s original novel to versions merely inspired by the original plot which transformed it most thoroughly. Alejandro Amenábar’s film ‘Abre los ojos’ (1997) is a thriller, set in contemporary Madrid, which focuses on the character of César, a young man who wears a prosthetic mask to conceal his disfigured facial traits. ‘Abre los ojos’ displays significant intertextual links with Leroux’s classic novel which range from explicit references to the original text to manifest parallelisms in relation to its characters, themes, and motifs. Leroux’s portrayal of a gloomy atmosphere of dreams, surreal paintings, magic, performance and masks, which reflects the blurred distinction between reality and fantasy, is also evoked, contemporised and transformed in Amenábar’s film through references to virtual reality, artificial perception, and cryonics. Bearing in mind these premises, this paper aims to analyse Amenábar’s film ‘Abre los Ojos’ as a contemporary postmodern film adaptation of Gaston Leroux’s novel ‘Le Fantôme de l’Opéra’, with the view to explain how features pertaining to the nineteenth-century Gothic romance, as illustrated in Leroux’s novel, are revisited, updated and transformed in Amenábar’s film.  

Bio: 

Dr. Marta Miquel-Baldellou is a Postdoctoral Fellow and a Work Team Member of the Research Group Dedal-Lit at Lleida University (Catalonia, Spain), and she is now taking part in a government-funded research project. Recently, she has been granted a postdoctoral scholarship to work on a research project in relation to narratology and myth criticism. Her areas of interest are comparative studies, Gothic fiction, nineteenth-century literature, Victorian literature, popular fiction, and cinema studies. The results of her research have been published in academic collections edited by Brill/Rodopi, Peter Lang, Cambridge Scholars Publishing, and Fairleigh Dickinson University Press. 

Matthew J. Elder 

Michael A. Torregrossa 

Abstract: 

Arthur, King of the Comics? The Functions of Arthur Pendragon in Comics and Comic Art,  

In the Middle Ages, King Arthur was a popular figure, renowned across Europe as one of the Nine Worthies and the “Flower of Kings”. Arthur’s fame has diminished much over the succeeding centuries, but his story remains prominent in modern mass media through retellings, continuations, and recastings of his adventures in fiction, film, games, television programming, and comics and comic art. The comics medium has been especially overlooked in Arthurian Studies; however, it offers thousands of examples of intriguing approaches to Arthur appearing in works from the 1930s up to the present in comics produced across the globe. In this paper, I’d like to explore some of these depictions and sketch out some suggestions for future research. My plan is to highlight three aspects of Arthur’s career in the comics: Arthur and Camelot (stories of Arthur as the hero of Camelot), Co-Starring Arthur (stories set either at Camelot or in post-medieval eras that position Arthur in a secondary role, rather like a cameo or guest star appearance on television), and Arthur as Once and Future King (stories set in post-medieval eras that move Arthur back into a heroic role again).  

Bio: 

Michael A. Torregrossa is a medievalist who researches adaptations of the medieval in popular culture. He is founder of The Alliance for the Promotion of Research on the Matter of Britain and The Association for the Advancement of Scholarship and Teaching of the Medieval in Popular Culture, and The Northeast Alliance for Scholarship on the Fantastic; he also serves as the Monsters and the Monstrous Area Chair for the Northeast Popular Culture/American Culture Association. 

Misha Grifka Wander 

Abstract: 

Learning to Use Elfroot: Video Games and Worldbuilding, In an off-hand remark in “Game Design as Narrative Architecture,” Henry Jenkins says “When game designers draw story elements from existing film or literary genres, they are most apt to tap those genres – fantasy, adventure, science fiction, horror, war – which are most invested in world-making and spatial storytelling.” He does not go into further explanation of how he determines which genres are invested in world-building, but most readers will find his statement rings true nonetheless. However, I want to investigate the connection between worldbuilding, games, and fantasy further. Worldbuilding in fantasy has been well-described in the scholarly literature, but this literature has not been brought to bear on video games’ particular methods of evoking fantasy worlds. In this paper, I will analyze the tools that video games use to build secondary worlds, how game mechanics can create player familiarity with the world, and even how games can create a sense of habitation within fantasy worlds. Some of these tools are similar to fantasy literature, but some of them differ quite a bit. For instance, many secondary world fantasies have unique plant species, some of which become important to the narrative, many of which are described as set-dressing or simply assumed to exist. Video games like Horizon Zero Dawn and Dragon Age: Inquisition teach players not only to recognize the names of their fictional plants, but their uses, potential combinations with other materials, and the places where they most often grow. Rather than relying on narrative importance, video games introduce their fantasy flora through practical importance—the need of the player-character to collect and use these plants in order to survive. This paper will theorize the ways in which game affordances create a unique experience of fantasy worlds—not better than literature, but different and complementary. 

Bio: 

Misha Grifka Wander is a PhD candidate in the Ohio State University English department. Their major fields are video game studies, comics studies, and speculative fiction studies, using a ecocritical and queer lens. Other publications include an essay on sexism in speculative fiction genre divides (The New Americanist, Fall 2019), ecology in Skyrim (Being Dragonborn, 2021), ecocritical fairy tale comics (Marvels and Tales, 2021) and a forthcoming chapter on pronoun use in contemporary science fiction (The Routledge Companion Gender in Science Fiction). 

Nicholas Wanberg 

Abstract:  

Renegotiating Light: Adaptations of Gender, Whiteness and Physicality Between Harry Potter and its Fanfiction  

Many scholars have noted the potential of fanfiction for renegotiating the ideological positions of canon works. Some have focused on fanfiction’s socially progressive transformative potential. Others have noted cases where fanfiction transforms the works in much the opposite way, writing out minority characters or instilling socially regressive values. However, technical, legal, and ethical limitations have made it very difficult to determine what fanfiction generally tends to do. This study attempts to offer some preliminary insights into that question. The study builds on my prior work, which analyzed patterns of language use related to gender and Whiteness in the Harry Potter series. It extends this analysis to Harry Potter fanfiction, using quantitative and qualitative analysis to show how the texts have negotiated ideological representations of Whiteness/gender intersections. It focuses on imagery associated with reflection and diffusion of light and its association with or dissociation from gendered aspects of physicality (from tears and sweat to burn injuries). I facilitate this project using robotic process automation, interfacing with online archives directly via a software robot I designed specifically for this purpose. This approach overcomes the earlier limitations. It allows for the preservation of authorial control over the reproduction and distribution of their works, preserves copyright integrity and conforms to established terms of use for affected websites, while also ensuring that later scholars can duplicate results without extensive additional effort or a need for sharing sensitive data. This project aims to identify general trends in how content producers can translate oft-unmarked ideological messages across media forms and paves the way for larger-scale, more ambitious research projects in this area.  
 

Bio:  

Nicholas Wanberg is a Ph.D. candidate at Tampere University in Tampere, Finland. His present research focuses on racism, anti-racism and the intelligent non-humans of speculative fiction. 

Özcan Kahraman 

Abstract: 

A Fantastic Slice-of-Life Experience: Exploring the Ordinary in Fantasy with Hayao Miyazaki 

Traditional fantasy stories focus on grand adventures, heroism, the chosen ones, and the other worlds. Therefore, they discard telling the ordinary stories of everyday life and everyday people. However, not every story should be about “something,” and the Slice-of-Life genre displays this by reflecting on stories about the ordinary. Even though it seems like Slice-Of-Life and Fantasy are incompatible due to their nature, when they mix, they present the extraordinary for the Fantasy texts. “”Secondary Worlds”” of Fantasy contain more than the adventures of chosen ones, great heroes, mighty wizards, or the dark lords. They also contain ordinary people, the tea breaks in between the adventures or the daily chores and Slice-of-Life fantasy aims to present that. Slice-of-Life is a popular genre in anime and manga, thus many examples of these ordinary fantastic stories are found there. However, it is possible to see the fantastic Slice-of-Life across multiple different media like movies, literature, and video games. Slice-of-Life makes use of its different mediums, especially movies, anime, and video games, to deliver its relaxing and ordinary experience. Some of the best examples of these are the movies of Hayao Miyazaki. Movies like My Neighbor Totoro (1988), Kiki’s Delivery Service (1989), Howl’s Moving Castle (2004), not only transfer us to a fantastic world but also present calm Slice-of-Life stories. Fantasy media avoids telling stories without action, adventure, or “important” characters, but stories of everyday people and ordinary are more common, interesting, and worth telling. Slice-of-Life Fantasy presents the neglected, domestic and ordinary stories and claims that they are just as important and valid. 

Bio: 

Özcan Kahraman is an MA student of English Language and Literature at Ankara Social Sciences University working on a thesis about the encounter of Bildungsroman with fantasy. Previously, he earned a BA in English Literature from Hacettepe University. His primary research interest concerns the presence of the ordinary in fantastic universes and the tabletop fantasy experience. As a part-time Dungeon Master, and a part-time student, he is deeply interested in exploring fantastic universes across multiple media such as video games, tabletop games, movies, animations, and literature. Currently, he is working as an English teacher while creating fantastic universes in secret. 

Pamela Elaine Miller 

Abstract: 

Foul Murder: The Role of Unreliable Narrative in “The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind”  

The 2002 Fantasy role-playing game “”The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind”” remains a well-known example of its genre twenty years after its release. While at the time lauded for its ambitious scope and visuals, today it is remembered for its writing. This paper suggests that one of the crucial reasons for this success is the writers’ use of unreliable narrative as a central feature of the game’s story. An Unreliable Narrator, as coined in 1961 by Wayne C. Booth, is the term used to describe the presence of a narrator in a text who, for a variety of reasons, obfuscates the truth from the audience. It is a device long present both in film and literature, from “”The Tell-Tale Heart”” to “”Fight Club””, and even in the writing of other video games. In the majority of these cases, the obfuscation is limited to a single character over a relatively short time span. The writers of “”Morrowind””, however, used the medium of exploratory, open- world gameplay to take the idea further by allowing the player to directly interact with an unreliable narrative spanning dozens of hours. The central story surrounds the aftermath of an event that occurred several thousand years beforehand. Over the course of the game, the player is required to uncover the truth through interacting with other characters and reading in-game texts. This paper will examine the ways through which “”Morrowind”” plays with unreliability through contradictory evidence, conflicting character agendas, and material hidden in such a way that a player may not find it on any given playthrough. It is in the conflict of information, together with the agency granted to the player by virtue of the game’s structure, that grants “”Morrowind”” its lasting power as a work of narrative fiction. 

Bio: 

Pamela Elaine Miller has a BA in Anthropology from Northern Arizona University and a MA in Experimental Archaeology from the University of Exeter. She is currently working on her Masters in Fantasy Literature at the University of Glasgow. Her research interests include Eighteenth and Nineteenth-century literature, British folklore with emphasis on fairies, material culture, narrative in video games, and the cultural influence of fantastical creatures. 

Paromita Patranobish 

Abstract: 

Solastalgia and Planetary Affect in Katla (2021) 

My paper aims to use Glenn Albrecht’s idea of “solastalgia” to approach Sigurjón Kjartansson’s 2021 Icelandic eco-speculative production, Katla. I draw on Albrecht’s definition of “solastalgia” as a form of ecologically mediated grief underlining the intimate link between environment and emotion, to analyse the narrative’s speculative figure of a ‘sentient’ volcano. I begin by arguing that “solastalgia” can be a useful frame to understand new lived realities that are produced by neoliberal industrial global capitalism and its extractive apparatuses upon the planetary landscape and the reproduction of these processes within the human psyche as a deep structure of emotional disturbances. In Katla the human dimension of the anthropocene is envisaged in terms of a planetary anthropomorphism. The earth not only passively registers the physical effects of human activity; it’s very matter is an agential tissue recording, transcribing and reproducing the sediments of purportedly human emotion. A volcano becomes an epiphenomenal archive of nonhuman affects including and primarily those inarticulate expressions that operate below the conceptual threshold of anthropocentric consciousness. Melancholy, estrangement, grief, and bereavement then are no longer states of mind limited to humans. These constitute a shared material continuum in which the earth itself participates– a solastalgic spectrum that extends to nonhuman forms. By examining the narrative’s construction of its eponymous volcano that takes on the figurative function of an extended metonym, I will read the visual and cinematic representation of disaster in Katla, focusing in particular on the series’s reinterpretation of the tropes of climate grief and eco-trauma as a participatory field that decenters the speciestic centrality of the liberal human subject. This multispecies reconceptualization of trauma offers new possibilities for thinking about the politics and ethics of cohabiting a shared planet in catastrophic times. References: Glenn Albrecht, “Solastalgia: a new concept in human health and identity.” PAN (Philosophy, Activism, Nature). Volume 3, 2005, pp. 41-55  

Bio: 

Paromita Patranobish is an independent researcher currently based in Kolkata, India. Her work focuses on the intellectual history of the body in modernity, engaging primarily with Continental and Post-Continental philosophy and studying 20th and 21st Century aesthetic articulations of nonhuman embodiment in relation to globalisation and multispecies planetary ecologies. She has a PhD on Virginia Woolf’s literary phenomenology from Delhi University and has previously designed and taught courses on gender studies and postmodernism at Shiv Nadar University and Ambedkar University Delhi. Her writing has been published in Fields of Play: Sport, Literature and Culture (Routledge, 2015) and Studies in Travel Writing (Taylor and Francis, 2019).

Sara Gonzalez Bernardez 

Abstract:  

Alternate Worlds from Alternate Worlds: Alternate Universe (AU) Fanfiction as Transformative Agent 

Fanfiction (or fanfic, as it is popularly known) is not a recent phenomenon: for example, Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre (1847) can be easily read as fanfiction of Jane Austen’s Emma (1815) expanding the story of Jane Fairfax, who was only a minor character in Austen’s work. However, the understanding of fanfiction as a literary form of its own worthy of consideration, is indeed relatively recent: its popularity and spread have been encouraged thanks to technological developments, particularly the fanfiction database Archive of Our Own (AO3), enabling anyone to share their work and making it accessible worldwide. One of the major appeals of fanfiction is how it stretches the fictional work beyond its original borders: the world and characters which the author created are no longer set in stone — already permeable to the reader’s ideas and conceptions of them, they now become changeable entities, sometimes to the point of not being recognizable as the originals anymore. This essay focuses on a particular genre known as Alternate Universe (AU), which makes significant changes to the source work, such as key features of the worldbuilding, the number or identity of the characters, or even creating a different setting altogether. The objective of this essay, then, is to examine how these changes to the source work are not simple explorations of alternate possibilities, but also function to change the source work’s values and themes. As shown through chosen examples, taken from aforementioned AO3, the fictional representations found in the source universe are expanded to include those that had not been able to recognize themselves in the original work, by altering the characters’ roles, shifting their dynamics, and subjecting their established sexualities, genders, or ethnicities to changes.  

Bio:  

Sara González is a graduate in English Language and Literature by the University of Santiago de Compostela, where she also obtained a Master’s in Advanced English Studies and is currently undertaking a PhD with support from the Spanish Ministry of Education. Her thesis project deals with the possibilities which the fantasy genre affords as a site of resistance and expression for marginalised identities, and how this impacts their representation within the fiction. Her research has therefore revolved around the concepts of identity, representation and empathy, working mostly with contemporary young adult literature and new media, such as videogames and fanfiction. 

Sarah Bresnahan 

Abstract: 

Entering the Game: Videogames as Fantastic Portals 

As a medium, videogames act to bridge the gap between fantastic digital lands and our own, enabling players to interact with secondary worlds and create a collaborative storytelling experience in the process. By applying Farah Mendlesohn’s definitions of the portal-quest and immersion fantasies, this talk will explore to what extent videogames operate as fantastic portals for the players that engage with them. Fundamental aspects of the videogame experience, such as the sustained externality of the player and the inclusion of non-diegetic visuals and sounds, produce contradictions that defy Mendlesohn’s categorisations. To overcome these issues regarding the theory’s inter-media application, this talk will incorporate the psychological effects that the act of play has upon the player’s identity, creating a complex convergence of their own identity and that of the player character they control (Waggoner, 2009). Establishing the impacts that such a blurring of identities has on the player’s role, transforming them from reader to active participant projected into the game world, I will discuss how a re-examination of Mendlesohn’s structural definitions yields different results. I will then analyse the opening sequences of Forza Horizon 5 (2021), Stardew Valley (2016), and Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Blue Rescue Team (2005), highlighting the subtle and overt instances of videogames ‘portal-ing’ the player into the game world. The presence of these design choices and the surrounding industry rhetoric reveals an awareness of this fantastic function of videogames. I will conclude the talk with a discussion on the accuracy of describing these design choices as invoking a portal aesthetic and to what extent videogames can resultantly be described as portals.  

Bio: 

Sarah Bresnahan is a current postgraduate student on the MLitt English Literature (Fantasy) course at the University of Glasgow. She graduated from the University of Liverpool with a 1st Class Hons in English in 2021, having incorporated as many videogames and other ‘nerdy’ texts into her assessments as possible. Her research interests include the application of eco-critical and narratological theory onto videogames, the shifting identities of the player during play, and the transformation of stories across media. 

Shree Thaarshini S 

Abstract: 

Winx Never Go Out of Style 

‘Magic Winx!’ is an incantation that triggers a transformation sequence, a transfiguration specifically of the character’s attire: a skirt and a blouse slowly change into an elaborate outfit, coupled with wings. While this trope, the shifting of appearance to reveal an alter-ego, is common, its treatment in Winx Club invites us to think about the relation of fashion to characterisation and identity. The show and its fans are invested in every outfit the protagonists wear, so much so that the official Wiki site has an “Outfits” page for each character, while fan-art and online role-playing games abound with detailed wardrobes. What is it about these clothes that so fascinates fans? The animated nature of the show means that there is an emphasis on appearance, but it can only afford occasional alterations. Yet this serves not as a failing, but an advantage: it draws immediate attention to every instance of restyling, and the import of this shift to the character. The magic of Winx Club lies in the care with which it employs minute visual detail – like the hearts that remain a concrete part of the ever-affectionate Bloom’s wardrobe – to develop a coherent style for each character which reflects their personality. For the show and fans alike, appearance is ‘all’ there is, and fashion choices have a significance. On the other hand, the live-action remake, Fate:The Winx Saga, has characters whose costumes change often and haphazardly, leading to fan outcry. This presentation puts the animated series, the live-action descendant, fan response, art, and games in conversation, to trace the liberatory possibilities of styling: How does clothing affect characterisation? What power does a new accessory give a character? How is this obsession with attire different from the regimentation of uniforms, like in W.I.T.C.H? What is its idea of an identity?  

Bio: 

Shree Thaarshini is currently a Teaching Fellow at the English Department in Ashoka University, India. Questions about love, affect, and characters interest her. Fantasy literature has long been an integral part of her life. 

Silvia Storti 

Abstract: 

Advertising the fairy tale: the happily ever after con  

Jack Zipes once said that if we were to note down ‘the large number of advertisements, cartoons, films, videotapes, radio programs, toys, merchandise, and wearing apparel that make use of fairy tales’, we would have to concede we were living ‘in a fairy-tale universe’. It is undoubtable that imagery and language have the power to infiltrate our collective unconscious, and fairy tales are evidence of this process. Marketing and advertising companies have never ceased to exploit this power and have very consciously appropriated fairy tales and their plots for an ever-growing number of campaigns. The trend for simple images in the advertising and marketing industry goes some way to account for this exploitation: one effect of fairy tales’ adoption by visual media is the loss of their textual history, their stories and characters distilled into a single image. I will examine fairy tales within this context as examples of the commodification of fantasy and the fantastic. Overall, fairy tales have grown in relevance as ‘book, hypertext for the Internet, advertisement for commodities, script for film, radio, and television, comic, cartoon, and cultural artifact’ in the West’s already visually saturated culture. I look to amplify that analysis of the pervasive imagery of fairy tales that has already been recognised as an unconscious cultural meme, endlessly reproduced in fictional and non-fictional works. The connection between fairy tales and beauty standards, wherein the beauty industry regulates femininity for mass consumption, also demonstrates how narratives that belong to the cultural collective are prime candidates for manipulation and promotion. I question why the media returns time and time again to the fantastic, especially as regards to the portrayal of women and the internalisation of commodified gender roles and female sexuality. 

Bio: 

Silvia E. Storti is a doctoral researcher at Kingston University London. Her work looks at fairy-tale retellings, reworkings, and adaptations to explore villainy through the concept of the Other, in the form this takes as issues of race and national identity, gender roles and toxic masculinity, the monstrous feminine and beauty standards. Part of her research is published in “Interdisciplinary Essays on Cannibalism” (2021), edited by Dr Giulia Champion. She is a member of The Angela Carter Society and of The Folklore Society. 

Siravich Khurat 

Abstract: 

Serial World-Building: Resetting the Digital World and Trailing Zemuria 

When fantasy extended beyond its literary roots, the possibility of how its extensive narrative can be told across different entries in each series expanded along with it. In particular, how the world of a specific narrative shifts with each new entry in its series is of interest. To that end, this paper would examine two distinct approaches to world-building across a series: 1) Re-Adjustment and 2) Enrichment. The first approach involves each distinct entry within a series re-defining the concepts that defines the series to fit a new narrative, while the second approach revolves around each entry refining the established world and concepts to complete them within the overarching narrative. To take a closer look at these two approaches to world-building, two representative series will be scrutinised. The first is Digimon, a multimedia series with anime as its centre, which consistently re-adjusts the primary concepts of the series such as what Digital Monsters (Digimons) and the Digital World are, how they are related to humans, and how the Digimons are able to evolve. The second is Kiseki (Trails) series, a JRPG video game series, which enriches its continent of Zemuria with each arc that explores different regions. While their approaches to world-building across their series-long narratives differ, what they have in common is the change in characters that signifies a turning point in the narrative and the corresponding world-building. With respect to their respective medium and theoretical discourse regarding world-building, how the Digital World and Zemuria shift through each of their primary 11 anime/game entries (among others) will be observed while contemplating on how the differences between reconstructing the concepts and components of the ‘same world’ (Digital World) and exploring the same world (Zemuria) more expansively have effects on the storytelling, the world’s conceptualisation, and the audience’s perception. 
 

Bio:  

Siravich Khurat holds an MLitt in Fantasy from the University of Glasgow. His interest lies in studying specific themes within the Fantasy genre across a range of compatible stories. He has a particular focus on Japanese narratives across media and a keen interest in creative writing. 

Steffen Hantke  

Abstract:  

Size Matters”: Why Giant Creatures on Screen Keep Getting Bigger  

From the eponymous ape in King Kong to the iconic lizard in Godzilla, fantastic giant creatures have always thrived on spectacular visibility. So essential is this visibility to the trope that, aside from a few predecessors in “Lost World” science fiction, there has never been a comparable literary tradition alongside the proliferation of giant creature on screen—from the behemoth in Cloverfield, to the dragons in Reign of Fire, to the recent iterations of, respectively, the King Kong and Godzilla mythologies. Driven by ever-improving technological means of detailed realistic rendering, the giant creature thrives on spectacular visibility. As a fantastic trope with considerable longevity, it must—literally—be seen to be believed. What these advances from primitive stop-motion to sophisticated CGI do not explain, however, is the fact that the giant creature’s spectacular visibility has been accompanied by a steady increase in the creature’s size: as the catchphrase for Godzilla (1999) would have it: “Size matters!” While much critical attention has been devoted to reading giant creatures for their metaphorical or allegorical qualities in regard to the historical context in which they appear (e.g. Godzilla as nuclear, or King Kong as racial metaphor), the question less explored is whether, and how, size itself is a quality with the power to signify. Size does matter, but what does it mean? Two approaches to this question are possible: considering specific films and their use of size itself as a signifier; and reading several films together by examining their quantitative measuring of creatures of various sizes against each other. Combined, both approaches promise an answer to the questions why giant creatures on screen keep getting bigger every year, and what this process of inflationary size means—for giant creatures on screen, and for the culture that never seems to tire of imagining them.  

Bio:  

Steffen Hantke has edited Horror, a special topic issue of Paradoxa (2002), Horror: Creating and Marketing Fear (2004), Caligari’s Heirs: The German Cinema of Fear after 1945 (2007), American Horror Film: The Genre at the Turn of the Millennium (2010), and, with Agnieszka Soltysik-Monnet, War Gothic in Literature and Culture (2016). He is also author of Conspiracy and Paranoia in Contemporary American Literature (1994) and Monsters in the Machine: Science Fiction Film and the Militarization of America after World War II (2016). 

Sydney Paige Guerrero 

Abstract: 

Indescribably Vivid: Lovecraftian Horror in the Manga of Junji Ito  

Lovecraft believed that “[t]he oldest and strongest emotion is fear, and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is the fear of the unknown” (“Supernatural”). As such, his monsters were often beyond human conception—frequently described as “indescribable”—with only “imperceptible hints and touches of selective associative detail which…build up a vague illusion of the strange reality of the unreal” (Lovecraft, “Notes”). Attempts to fully render Lovecraftian monsters in visual media often fail because the fear is in the unknown, in knowing enough to understand that what is being described is horrific but not enough to understand the exact nature of the horror. Still, it is possible to successfully execute Lovecraftian horror in visual media, as is the case in the work of the Japanese mangaka, Junji Ito. This paper will examine selected work by Ito as a literalization of Lovecraft’s idea that his fiction is “a vivid picture of a certain human mood” (Lovecraft, “Notes”). Rather than focusing on creature creation or the nature of the fantastic, Ito’s horror is rooted in the human reaction to an encounter with the fantastic. This paper posits that the horror in Ito’s manga stems as much from the unknowable nature of the fantastic as it is in the unknowable ways the fantastic can transform the human, specifically the loss or the warping of humanity. Ito’s manga captures the sense of inevitability and hopelessness that pervades Lovecraft’s work, but if in Lovecraft this sense is due to being at the whims of cosmic forces that cannot be fully understood, in Ito it is due to being at the whims of the human psyche, which can be equally unknowable in the face of unknowable circumstances. In both cases, the heart of horror is not in describing the indescribable, but in vividly rendering the human. *Note: This would be an expanded version of a presentation originally done in Fantasy 1, Academic Year 2021-2022, Sem 1 

Bio: 

Sydney Paige Guerrero is a speculative fiction writer, essayist, and the managing editor of an upcoming sourcebook for Philippine Speculative Fiction. She also teaches writing and literature at the University of the Philippines, Diliman, where she graduated with a degree in Creative Writing. Her fiction and nonfiction have won two Nick Joaquin Literary Awards and two Amelia Lapeña-Bonifacio Literary Awards, respectively, and her work has been featured in Daily Science Fiction, Cast of Wonders, The Philippines Graphic, and other venues. Currently, she is pursuing her master’s degree in English Literature: Fantasy at the University of Glasgow. 

Timothy Miller 

Abstract: 

Orpheus in the Wasteland: Anaïs Mitchell’s “Folk Opera” Hadestown and Satanic Capitalism, The classical myth of Orpheus and Eurydice has had a long history of adaptations in the performing arts, from opera to ballet, and the myth has also been retold countless times in contemporary fantasy and science fiction, with several new adaptations continuing to appear in the last decade or so, from Robert Silverberg’s Last Song of Orpheus (2010) to Richard Powers’s Orfeo (2014). These two traditions of adaptation converge in Anaïs Mitchell’s Hadestown: this paper proposes to examine Mitchell’s self-described “folk opera” album (2010) turned Broadway hit (2016, 2019) as a performance adaptation with a particular relationship to various traditions of the fantastic on stage, in music, and in print. The post-apocalyptic landscape Orpheus traverses encodes a critique of capitalist modernity against which the fantastic power of song is counterpoised, with the king of the underworld positioned as “job creator” and wall builder whose rule over his kingdom of production and productivity is anything but a fantasy. Mitchell’s Orpheus is a reluctant revolutionary, however, iterated for different audiences in different performance contexts. 

Bio: 

Timothy S. Miller teaches fantasy and science fiction as Assistant Professor of English at Florida Atlantic University (the birthplace of ICFA!), where he contributes to the department’s MA degree concentration in Science Fiction and Fantasy. Recent course titles include “Theorizing the Fantastic” (graduate level) and “Fantasy Literature” (undergraduate level). Originally trained as a medievalist, he has published on both later Middle English literature and various contemporary authors of speculative fiction, and in journals such as Science Fiction Studies, JFA, Mythlore, and Extrapolation. 

Tungabhadra Banerjee 

Abstract:  

Magic, Myth and the ‘Perilous Realm’ of Fantasy Media: Exploring the World of Xianxia in the Chinese Television Series ‘The Untamed’ (2019) 

A sub-genre of Chinese mystery fantasy, xianxia (‘immortal heroes’) tales are a riveting combination of traditional Chinese mythology, philosophy and wuxia (‘martial arts’ fiction). Prolific screen adaptations of online fantasy literature in the early twenty-first century have, however, transformed this genre, that owes its origin to Chinese fantasy classics like ‘Journey to the West’ (1592) and ‘Strange Tales from a Chinese Studio'(1740), into a mainstream trans-cultural phenomenon. ‘Chen Qing Ling’ or ‘The Untamed’ (2019), the xianxia series adapted from the online novel ‘Mo Dao Zu Shi’ (2016) by Mo Xian Tian Xu, with a global viewership of billions on multiple streaming platforms, exemplifies this popular trend. The high fantasy narrative encompasses the journey of magic practitioners Wei Wuxian and Lan Wangji to eliminate evil monsters, retrieve magical artefacts and restore the moral order of the cultivation world. This paper examines the power of Chinese visual fantasy to create a diegetic framework that can sustain this epic saga of magic, friendship and betrayal spanning several decades by exploring the construction of ‘secondary worlds’ in The Untamed. Drawing on Tolkien’s theory of “sub-creation”, the complexities of adaptation studies and transmedia storytelling, this paper analyses how the mystical accoutrements of a uniquely Chinese mythosphere reshape the protagonist’s archetypical quest in an audiovisual medium. Therein it argues that the sensational aspects of xianxia- flying swords, elaborate period-typical costumes and extravagant setting – are particularly successful in drawing viewers into a poignantly believable imaginary world through the lamina of the small screen. Thus, by extending the scholarship of fantasy media adaptations, and their impact, beyond the determinants of western canon typified by media franchises like ‘The Lord of the Rings’ (2001-2003) or ‘Harry Potter ‘(2001-2011) ,this paper attempts to situate the cross-media significance of non-Anglophone fantasy texts within the critical purview of the fantastic.  

Bio: 

Tungabhadra Banerjee is a Postgraduate Student at University of Delhi, India. Her varied research interests include the intersection of gothic fiction and feminine psychology, cultural contexts as well as repercussions of popular literature, and the creation of alternate worlds in contemporary fantasy. In her current research endeavours, she aims to contribute to the emerging scholarship surrounding East-Asian fantasy fiction and the role of new forms of media like web novels, graphic novels and animations in popularizing non-Anglophone texts among global audiences. 

Zoe Wible 

Abstract: 

Fantastic creatures and film form: the example of shot/ reverse shot 

Since the dawn of cinema, filmmakers have established a host of formal conventions that have since become very familiar. These conventions modulate the medium’s very material, the movement of objects in space, but are mostly based on anthropocentric concerns: they are made to represent human performers, in human-scaled environments. What happens when fantastic films bring in inhuman, supernatural creatures that do not occupy space in the same way humans do? What effects does that have on filmic conventions? I will focus on the example of shot/ reverse shot (S/RS), as analysed by David Bordwell. Bordwell (following Oudart) presents the way this shot structure functions as an inferential process in classical cinema: a character looks offscreen, then a second shot shows another character looking offscreen in the opposite direction, which makes the spectator infer that “the two areas are more or less contiguous and that the characters are looking at each other” (Bordwell 1990, 110). I argue that this structure implies two human performers of roughly the same size. What happens if the characters are not human, and of differing sizes? This paper will use examples from three films to illustrate the variations of S/RS structure in fantasy (The Lord of the Rings), science fiction (Star Trek: Beyond) and fantastic films (Colossal). This paper will invite attendees to reflect on the impact of fantasy as a mode in interaction with a medium: how can fantasy push the boundaries of film? This also has important implications for adaptation studies and transmedia studies more generally.  

Bio: 

Zoe Wible is a PhD student in Film at the University of Kent. Her research interests include science-fiction and cognitive film theory. Following her master’s dissertation on the reception of androids in contemporary television show Westworld, she is now researching the relationship between imaginary creatures and storytelling conventions in visual narrative media. She also draws on recent developments in interactive media and forms of engagement, including video games and online fandom spaces. The provisional title for her thesis is: “Monster schemas and folk biology: A cognitive approach to science fiction characters in contemporary cinema”. 

CFP: Medical Humanities and the Fantastic Online Symposium: Neurodiversity and Disability

Medical Humanities and the Fantastic Online Symposium: Neurodiversity and Disability

Friday 11th  February 2022

Keynote lectures from Dr Ria Cheyne and Dr Louise Creechan

The second Medical Humanities and the Fantastic Symposium, funded by the University of Glasgow’s Centre for Medical Humanities’ Early Career Foundation Award, and co-hosted by the Centre for Fantasy and the Fantastic, continues to map and establish new ways of connecting research into the fantastic (traditionally understood as science fiction, fantasy and horror) and popular culture with the field of the medical humanities. It aims to showcase the potentials the fantastic has to offer as valuable gateway and perspective for discussing medical encounters, practices and lived experiences. The fantastic as a research method can expand the scope of the medical humanities since its modus operandi relies on reframing human understanding of the world, particularly the human condition and its relationship to technology, society, and the environment. Likewise, medical humanities offer emerging trajectories to approach the fantastic.

This time the symposium intends to focus on a specific area, and its theme is set as “Neurodiversity and Disability”, seeking to explore and formulating answers the following questions:

  • How does the fantastic represent or subvert neurodiversity and disability?
  • How can the fantastic help express lived experiences of neurodiversity and disability?
  • How can the fantastic negotiate the reframing of current medical, social, political and economic debates surrounding neurodiversity and disability?
  • How can the fantastic raise awareness, and facilitate critical and policy intervention?

We are inviting 10-15-minute presentations (including work-in-progress projects) relating to but not limited to the following topics:

  • Ableism
  • Academia
  • Activism
  • ADHD, ASD
  • Anthropocene
  • Art and artistic practices
  • Care and care crisis
  • Capitalism and anti-capitalism
  • Children’s literature
  • Chronic illness and chronic pain
  • Comics and graphic novels
  • Communities online and offline
  • Creativity
  • Dis/ability
  • Ecology, ecopsychology, ecosickness
  • Education
  • Fantasy
  • Fantastic franchises
  • Film and television
  • Gaming and gamification
  • Gender
  • Gothic and Horror
  • History and medical history
  • Learning disabilities
  • Modernism and Postmodernism
  • Neurodiversity and the Neurodiversity Movement
  • Posthumanism
  • Precarity
  • Reproductive health
  • Robotics
  • Science fiction and speculative fiction
  • Sex and sexuality
  • Social media
  • Technology
  • Theatre
  • Vulnerability
  • Weird fiction
  • Young Adult

Please send your short abstract (100-200 words) accompanied by a brief bio (50-100 words) by the end of January 2022 as well as any enquiries and concerns to fantastic.medhums@gmail.com. For information and updates on the event follow @fantastic_mhs on Twitter.

Registration for this Symposium is now open! You can register here.

Conference: Dissenting Beliefs: Heresy and Heterodoxy in Fantasy

The Centre for Fantasy and the Fantastic and the University of Glasgow are happy to announce Dissenting Beliefs, an early career researcher conference on religious heresy and heterodoxy in fantasy literature and media. The conference is free to attend and will be held online via Zoom webinars on 11 December 2021.

Our keynote lecture for the conference will be delivered by Prof. Alana M. Vincent, Professor of Jewish Philosophy, Religion and Imagination at the University of Chester.

You can find the conference CFP here and find our full programme below.

Registration is already open – here is the link to book your free ticket.

Keep up with our latest updates by following Dissenting Beliefs on Facebook and Twitter.

Organising Committee:

Dr Taylor Driggers
Lucinda Holdsworth
Meg MacDonald
Luise Rössel

Contact Email: Dissenting.Beliefs@gmail.com

Programme:

9:30-10:00: Welcome and Opening Words


10:00-11:30: Panel 1: Feminist Mythic Counter Readings
Chloe Campbell — “Hell’s Under New Management Now”: Heresy, Patriarchy and Religious Subversion in The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina

Eilidh Harrower — “Pharmakis”: Feminist Paganism in Circe by Madeline Miller

Grace Worm — In the Hands of the Goddess: Feminist Religion, Religious Piety, and Mistaken Interpretations in Tamora Pierce’s Tortall and Other Lands

10:00-11:30: Panel 2: Good Omens and its Descendants
Alex Booer— A Theology from the Margins: The Demon Crowley in TV’s Good Omens

Luise Roessel— Mirroring “sacred” textuality only to break it: the liberating power of Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman’s Good Omens

Matthew Konerth— The Demon Ascendant Narrative

11:30-11:45: Break


11:45-13:15: Panel 3: Fantastic Queer Heterodoxies
Marita Arvanti — God Has An Asshole?: Queer Heterodoxies in Elizabeth Bear’s Stratford Man duology

Koh Hui Ling Carina — Postmodern Fantasy and Queer Theology in Samantha Shannon’s The Priory of the Orange Tree

Da Eun Kun — Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit and Blakean Fantasies for a Lesbian Feminist Subject


11:45-13:15: Panel 4: Interwar Paganism and Occultism
Andrew Korah — “To Pray to the Stars”: The Nonmoral Devotion to Beauty in Dunsany’s Fantasy

Georgia Van Raalte — “The Ass that Carries the Ark”: Fantasy, Initiation and Goddess Theology in Dion Fortune’s Occult Novels

Sean Martin — Gnostic and Pagan Archetypes in David Lindsay’s The Violet Apple, Devil’s Tor and The Witch


13:15-14:00: Lunch Break


14:00-15:40: Panel 5: Interreligious and Intercultural Dialogue
Anna Milon — The High Church of the Goddess: Religious Syncretism in Live Action Role Play.

Smita Dhantal — A Socio-Psychological Analysis of Interreligious Dialogue in A Song of Ice and Fire

Snigdha Basu — Theological subversion of the indigenous and trails of Womanist theology in Joanne Harris’s Chocolat

Venetta Octavia — Fantasy or History: Religion vs. Magic


15:40-17:10: Keynote with Prof. Alana Vincent

CFP: GIFCon 2022: Fantasy Across Media

The Centre for Fantasy and the Fantastic is pleased to announce a call for papers for Glasgow International Fantasy Conversations (GIFCon) 2022 with the theme of ‘Fantasy Across Media’.

Much of fantasy studies has focused on the genre’s presence in literature, with histories and theoretical frameworks often either implicitly or explicitly centring the written word. In some cases, academic, critic, and fan responses to the genre outside of literature even go so far as to erase or question the possibility of the genre’s existence in other media, perhaps most famously embodied in J.R.R. Tolkien’s insistence in ‘On Fairy-stories’ that some media, such as drama, are fundamentally incompatible with fantasy. These types of responses fail to account for the medium-specific benefits and challenges that different media pose for depictions of the impossible, serving to establish hierarchies between media, exclude non-literary media from analyses of the genre, and potentially limit a full understanding of the genre’s history.

Fantasy and the fantastic have had long, rich histories outside of literature, playing a central role in the development of theatre, film, and comic books, and celebrating a more recent boom on the small screen. Furthermore, from the innumerable reimaginings of the Arthurian tradition, to The Wizard of Oz, to manga and anime, to contemporary multimedia franchises and cinematic universes, fantasy texts have been integral to the history of transmedia storytelling, allowing their rich storyworlds to expand across multiple media. By examining fantasy with a focus on media, we find a genre shaped in distinct ways by the many different media and creative industries that produce it, with specific creative processes and varying cultural media traditions opening onto distinct forms of fantasy that may not be properly accounted for in fantasy studies’ traditional focus on Anglophone literature.

GIFCon 2022 is a three-day virtual conference that seeks to examine the myriad narrative possibilities afforded by fantasy across media. 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 non-Anglocentric fantasy. We will also offer creative workshops for those interested in exploring how the creative processes of different media shape fantastic storytelling on a practical level. 

We ask for 300-word 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 December 3rd 2021 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 in film, theatre, television, oral traditions, comic books, games (both video and tabletop), new media, virtual reality, theme parks, podcasts, scripts, visual arts, etc. 
  • The relationship between genre and medium 
  • Histories of Fantasy media beyond literature 
  • The cross-media influence of Fantasy texts 
  • Medium-specificity or interrogations of medium-specificity in genre studies 
  • Adaptations of Fantasy texts 
  • Fantasy transmedia franchises 
  • Fanworks of Fantasy texts 
  • Fantasy and the fantastic in a non-Anglocentric medium, e.g. Bollywood fantasies, manga, anime, JRPGs, Karagöz shadow plays 
  • Relationship between Fantasy texts and the regional cultural industries that produce them 

CFP: Dissenting Beliefs: Heresy and Heterodoxy in Fantasy

Online Conference to be held on 11 December 2021, supported by the Centre for Fantasy and the Fantastic, University of Glasgow.

Deadline for Submissions: 7th September 2021

Organising Committee:

Dr Taylor Driggers
Lucinda Holdsworth
Meg MacDonald
Luise Rössel

Contact Email: Dissenting.Beliefs@gmail.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/DissentCon/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/DissentCon/

Keynote

Alana M. Vincent is the Professor of Jewish Philosophy, Religion and Imagination at the University of Chester. Her published work engages a wide range of topics relating to religion, memory, and cultural imaginaries, from commemorations of mass killing to the afterlives of biblical texts. She has published several monographs, including Culture, Communion and Recovery: Tolkienian Fairy-Story and Inter-Religious Exchange (2014), and is currently researching the way that popular narratives, such as comic books and superhero movies, shape public perceptions of post-genocide reconciliation. Born in Canada, she currently resides in Liverpool with her partner and two cats.

Call for Papers

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.

This online conference, supported by the Centre for Fantasy and the Fantastic, University of Glasgow, aims to explore the wide ranging affordances of heterodoxy and heresy in fantasy texts across a wide range of faiths. We welcome 20-minute papers from postgraduate students and early career researchers working in any area of fantasy or theology. These papers 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 31st August. Only applications from graduate students and early career researchers will be considered for this conference. We are particularly keen to highlight the contributions of underrepresented authors within the fantasy genre at this conference, therefore we will also not be accepting submissions on the works of J. R. R. Tolkien, C. S. Lewis, J. K. Rowling or Philip Pullman.

This event will take place online on 11th December 2021 and will be made accessible to the public via both zoom and the Centre for Fantasy and the Fantastic’s YouTube channel.