Glasgow International Fantasy Conversations: Beyond the Anglocentric Fantastic

deadline for submissions: 
January 4, 2021
full name / name of organization: 
University of Glasgow
contact email: 

Glasgow International Fantasy Conversations

Beyond the Anglocentric Fantastic

28th – 30th April 2021

This year’s GIFCon invites us to question our own habits: what language do we use when we read, watch, write, or think about Fantasy and the fantastic? What cultural traditions tend to be represented in the “Fantasy canon”? What ethnic and racial groups dominate Fantasy texts, in terms of characters and writers alike? What power dynamics shape the production, distribution, and reception of Fantasy texts? Many of the texts that have been used to define Fantasy are written in English and either set in or inspired by white-dominated spaces in the United States and the United Kingdom, from The Lord of the Rings to the works of George MacDonald, William Morris, L. Frank Baum, Neil Gaiman, Terry Pratchett and J. K. Rowling. Fantasy scholarship has reinforced this tendency, dominated as it is by discussion of English-language texts.

This limited perception of Fantasy is reflective of two key concepts for this year’s symposium: Anglonormativity and Anglocentrism. Anglonormativity refers to the hegemony of the English language, which pressurizes creatives and scholars into using English and writing about English-language texts, and treats scholars and writers in other languages or from non-Western ethnic backgrounds writing in English as niche or less knowledgeable and hence marginalised. Anglocentrism, in turn, refers to the practise of viewing the world through the lens of an English or Anglo-American perspective and with an implied belief, either consciously or unconsciously, in the preeminence of English or Anglo-American culture.

Anglonormativity and Anglocentrism can lead to either ignoring or appropriating the lengthy and rich traditions of Fantasy and the fantastic written in other languages and cultures, many of which predate the Anglophone tradition. Those non-Anglophone traditions have resulted in unique genres separate from Anglocentric Fantasy, others in subgenres like Afrofuturism, and still others in culturally-specific incarnations of Fantasy. Recent years have seen an increase in the publication and profile of works of Fantasy and the fantastic translated from a variety of languages (Chinese, Russian, Greek, and Malay, to name but a few) as well as the output of English-speaking authors of colour such as Nalo Hopkinson and Kai Ashante Wilson, who bring their own backgrounds and language into their work. Within Anglophone countries, there has been a slowly growing tendency to centre the perspective of racially, culturally, and ethnically marginalised groups whose perspectives have historically been underrepresented in white Anglocentric fantasy. Indigenous authors are using the fantastic to examine the contested space of colonised land and imagining escape from or alternatives to a history and present of oppression and erasure.

GIFCon 2021 is a three-day symposium that seeks to examine and honour the heterogeneity of Fantasy and the fantastic beyond Anglonormativity and Anglocentrism. Our committee, composed of members from different nationalities, ethnicities, first languages, and the LGBTQ+ community, welcomes 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. We will also offer creative workshops for those interested in exploring creative processes.

We ask for 300-word abstracts for 20-minute papers, as well as creative presentations that go beyond the traditional academic paper. Despite our desire to centre the non-Anglophonic in our symposium, we are only able to accept papers presented in English, in order to facilitate communication and discussion amongst our international attendees. Suggested topics include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Non-Anglocentric histories and traditions of Fantasy and the fantastic in all forms of media
  • The postcolonial fantastic, by authors such as Helen Oyeyemi, Salman Rushdie, N. K. Jemisin, Nalo Hopkinson, and Zen Cho
  • The use of real non-Anglophone languages in Fantasy
  • Translation studies and the fantastic
  • Accounts of non-Anglophone scholarship on Fantasy and the fantastic
  • Influence of Anglocentrism and Anglonormativity on the non-Anglocentric and non-Anglonormative
  • The non-Anglocentric European fantastic, e.g. Slavic, Germanic, Mediterranean, Gaelic
  • The (mis)use, exoticism, and appropriation of non-Anglocentric cultural traditions and fantasy lineages into the Fantasy ‘canon’
  • Indigeneity and indigenous self-determination in Indigenous forms of Fantasy
  • Deconstruction, decolonisation, and counterappropriation as topics within and movements surrounding Fantasy texts
  • Postcolonial reception of Anglocentric texts, e.g. the success of Harry Potter in India
  • Implications of “writing back” to Anglophone genres
  • Diasporic Fantasy and the fantastic
  • Relationship between Fantasy and non-Anglocentric genres and forms, e.g. magical realism, masala films, Africanjujuism, shenmo xiaoshuo, fantastique, kaiju, etc.
  • Fantasy and the fantastic in a non-Anglocentric medium, e.g. Bollywood fantasies, manga, anime, jrpgs, Karagöz shadow plays
  • Fan efforts to create space for non-Anglocentric experiences in Anglocentric texts
  • Marginalised traditions within Anglocentric fantasy, i.e. works of the fantastic about and by immigrant communities, religious minorities, and racial and ethnic minorities
  • Relationship between non-Anglocentric Fantasy and the regional cultural industries that produce them
  • The presence or lack thereof of non-Anglocentric Fantasy in Anglocentric spaces
  • Relationship between Fantasy and religious or spiritual beliefs in non-Anglocentric cultures
  • The influence of the publishing industry in the selection, distribution, and reception of Anglocentric and non-Anglocentric Fantasy and the fantastic

Please submit a 300-word abstract and a 100-word bionote to GIFCon-submissions@glasgow.ac.uk by 04 January 2021 at midnight GMT (please see our detailed Submissions Guidelines at https://www.gla.ac.uk/schools/critical/research/researchclusters/fanstasyatglasgow/gifcon/#submissionguidelines.