Keynote Speakers

George P. Landow

Emeritus Professor, Brown University

Blurred and Blurring Borders; or the Problematics of Fantasy

After brief glances at ancient myth and medieval romance, we shall look at the Victorian invention of modern fantasy by George MacDonald and William Morris before turning to the twentieth- and twenty-first-century relations of fantasy as a genre to magic realism, science fiction, and cyberpunk at a time when, as Arthur C. Clarke pointed out long ago, science and technology become impenetrable and seem matters of magick.

Bio: George P. Landow, the founder and editor-in-chief of The Victorian Web, is Professor of English and Art History Emeritus, Brown University. Landow, who has written and lectured internationally on nineteenth-century literature, art, religion as well as on literary theory, e-literature, educational computing, hypermedia, realism, and fantasy, has taught at Columbia, the University of Chicago, Brasenose College, Oxford, and Brown Universities. A Faculty Fellow at Brown University’s Institute for Research in Information and Scholarship (IRIS) from 1985 to 1992, he worked as a member of the team that developed Intermedia. The Dickens Web, a small selection of these materials, won the 1990 EDUCOM/ NCRIPTAL award for most innovative courseware in the humanities. He published the Dickens and In Memoriam Webs in Storyspace (Eastgate Systems, 1992) and a Writing at the Edge, a collection of Brown student Storyspace webs (1995). Landow helped organize several international loan exhibitions including Fantastic Art and Design in Britain, 1850 to 1930 (1979), and his books include The Aesthetic and Critical Theories of John Ruskin (Princeton UP, 1971), Victorian Types, Victorian Shadows: Biblical Typology and Victorian Literature, Art, and Thought (Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1980), Approaches to Victorian Autobiography (Ohio UP, 1979),  Images of Crisis: Literary Iconology, 1750 to the Present (Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1982),  Ruskin (Oxford UP, 1985),  Elegant Jeremiahs: The Sage from Carlyle to Mailer (Cornell UP, 1986). 

Robert Maslen

Senior Lecturer, University of Glasgow

‘Crazy balance’: Complicity and Resistance in the Fantasies of Mervyn Peake

Throughout World War Two and its aftermath, from the Spanish Civil War to the Cold War of the 1950s, Mervyn Peake’s work is suffused with references to fulcrums, edges, and precarious feats of balance. Behind these metaphors is an intense awareness of his own potential for complicity, as an artist, with the atrocities happening all round him. As the passionate observer, imaginer and imitator in word and image of the acts of violence going on in his lifetime he seems to have felt in some sense responsible for them. His fantasies articulate this sense of being on the threshold of collaboration with the worst excesses of what Eric Hobsbawm calls the Age of Extremes. In this they are not alone; dozens of his contemporaries were similarly producing fantasies of complicity in this period. My paper will explore the unsettling threshold between complicity and resistance in the fantasy of the 1930s, 40s and 50s, with special reference to the work of Peake.

Bio: Rob Maslen is Senior Lecturer at the University of Glasgow. In 2015 he founded the world’s first Masters programme in Fantasy, which has generated numerous events and drawn many visiting speakers to Glasgow. One recent speaker was Brian Attebery, who stayed at Glasgow for six months as Leverhulme Visiting Professor of Fantasy. The University has supported the MLitt programme by appointing a Kelvin Smith Fellow in Fantasy, Rhys Williams, and a Lecturer in Fantasy and Children’s Literature, Dimitra Fimi, as well as establishing an annual Fantasy conference, GIFCon. In his former life Rob was a specialist in early modern literature, with an emphasis on the sixteenth-century origins of the novel in English. He has edited two volumes of Mervyn Peake’s poetry and runs a blog, mostly on fantasy fiction, called The City of Lost Books. You can follow him on Twitter at @UoGFantasy or via the Facebook group Fantasy at Glasgow. You can also drop him an email on


Angel Leigh Alderson

Newcastle University

On the threshold of reality? Exploring Environmentalism through fantasy in Miyazaki Hayao’s Princess Mononoke and Nausicaӓ of the Valley of the Wind

Bio: Angel Alderson is a third year PhD Candidate in Japanese Studies at Newcastle University. Supervised by Dr Shiro Yoshioka, her research examines the films of Miyazaki Hayao and Takahata Isao of Japanese Animation House Studio Ghibli, within the context of Eco-media. Other areas of interest and study have included women in anime, nihonjinron in Japanese literature, Japanese environmental policy and feminism in Japan. Angel achieved her Bachelor of Arts from the University of Sunderland in 2015, and her Master of Letters in Japanese Studies from Newcastle University in 2017.

Pürnur Altay

University of York

The Fantastic Mode as a Medium of Social Critique in Ahmet Ümit’s The Dervish Gate

Bio: Pürnur Altay was born in 1989 and completed her BA at the department of English Language and Literature in Karadeniz Technical University in Turkey. Then she was granted a scholarship by the Turkish Government to pursue her MA and PhD degrees in the UK. Following her MA studies at the University of Leeds, School of English, she has recently finished her PhD project at the department of English and Related Literature. She will graduate in January 2020.

Austin Andersen

New York University

The Violence of the Colonial Gaze: Postcolonialism in “The Diamond Lens”

Bio: Austin Anderson is a graduate student in English at New York University specializing in post-colonialism and African-American literature. He received his bachelor’s degree in English from Texas Wesleyan University with honours. He is currently researching the aesthetic and political intersection between Dalit Panther poetry and the Harlem Renaissance. He is also a musician and avid ukulele player. 

Francesca Arnavas

University of Tartu

“The Magic Words Shall Hold Thee Fast: / Thou Shalt not Heed the Raving Blast”: Cognitive Immersion into Alice’s Worlds and its Multiple Meanings 

Bio: Francesca Arnavas completed her PhD in November 2018, at the University of York, under the supervision of Doctor Richard Walsh. She is starting in November 2019 a position as a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Tartu, collaborating to the Research Group on Narrative, Culture, and Cognition, led by Professor Marina Grishakova.

Maria Arvaniti

University of Glasgow

Waiting for Godric: Crossing fantasy thresholds through the stage

Bio: Marita Arvaniti is a PhD candidate in the University of Glasgow. Her research examines the lasting effect theatre has had in the birth and evolution of fantasy literature in the 20th and 21st century. She is the Publicity Officer for Fantastika Journal and a dedicated committee member for Glasgow International Fantasy Conversations and Stage the Future III: Third International Academic Conference on SFF Theatre. Other interests include folk horror, fantasy romance, and the works of Terry Pratchett, N. K. Jemisin, and Diana Wynne Jones. She can be reached at or on twitter at @excaliburedpan.

Chris Lynch Becherer

University of Glasgow

Never Going Home: The New Boundaries of Time in Ursula Le Guin’s Powers

Ursula Le Guin’s Powers (2007) tests the boundaries of temporality in her writing. It does so by presenting a new relationship with time and a new shape to the temporal: specifically a movement from the circular to the fragmented. This reflects a challenge to the Daoist emphasis on return and circularity of being in Earthsea, instead examining characters both rootless and migratory, who must construct new way to move forwards by looking backwards.

Bio: Chris Lynch Becherer is a PhD student at the University of Glasgow, studying Terry Pratchett’s Discworldseries. 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.

Laura R Lynch Becherer

University of Glasgow

Invoking Baba Jaga: Intuitive Magic and Unconventional Empathy in Naomi Novik’s Uprooted

This paper will discuss the power of ‘feminine,’ intuitive magic set against a strictly patriarchal, academic societal structure in Naomi Novik’s Uprooted, as well as the unconventional resolution to the centuries-long war between Man and Forest that sits as the focal conflict in the book. I will explore the significance of the historically undervalued traits of intuition and empathy, set as they are against the magical academy and traditional warfare, and how they lead to a resolution focused on healing instead of conquer. 

Bio: Laura R Becherer is completing her Doctorate of Fine Arts in Creative Writing at the University of Glasgow. She has numerous publications in fiction, creative, nonfiction, and poetry primarily focuses on magical realism and fairy tale retellings. She is currently finishing her first novel, a feminist, North American retelling of “Little Red Riding Hood” that explores sexual trauma and PTSD. Laura is the co-author of the award-winning A Drink of One’s Own: Cocktails for Literary Ladies. She lives in Glasgow with her husband and their two American cats.

Megan Belluomini

University of Trinity College Dublin

Radical Escapism: Isekai Anime and Wish-Fulfilment as Subversive Discourse

“Escape” into the other world of isekai anime allows characters and viewers to experience a radical shift in power dynamics wherein the marginalized can confront corrupt establishments and utilize innovative solutions to positively transform their society.

Bio: Megan Belluomini has a Master’s of Philosophy in Popular Literature from the University of Trinity College Dublin.  Her field of study is fantasy as a genre in literature, TV, and film. She is particularly interested in the interaction between world-building, mythology, and magic in fantasy, and hopes to pursue further academic work in this field.  She currently resides in Sapporo, Japan, where she teaches English, studies Japanese language, and explores the approaches to generic fantasy in Japanese anime and manga.

Sarah Brown

Anglia Ruskin University

Fantasy denouements in detective fiction

This paper investigates four examples of detective fiction which hover on the threshold between genres. In each case the reader’s expectations are disrupted by the unexpected intrusion of an element of fantasy in the story’s solution.

Bio: Sarah Annes Brown is a Professor of English Literature at Anglia Ruskin University. Her publications include The Metamorphosis of Ovid: From Chaucer to Ted Hughes (1999), Tragedy in Transition (2007) and A Familiar Compound Ghost: Allusion and the Uncanny (2012). Her current project is a study of Shakespeare’s relationship with science fiction, looking in particular at representations of how Shakespeare’s plays are performed in the future. She has served as a judge of the Arthur C. Clarke Award (2014-15) and is Secretary of the Science Fiction Foundation.

Ruth Booth

University of Glasgow

“There is No Magic Circle”: Toxic Masculinity and the Protection Stave in God of War (2018).

Bio: Ruth Booth is a Creative Writing doctoral student at the University of Glasgow, where she uses folktale adaptations to explore gendered social narratives and susceptibility to far-right extremism. Her column for Scottish Science Fiction journal Shoreline of Infinity won the British Fantasy Award for Best Non-Fiction (2019), while her fiction has received the British Science Fiction Association’s Award for Best Shorter Fiction. Ruth has presented papers in Finland, Svalbard, Ireland, and the UK. She co-organized the first three years of Glasgow International Fantasy Conversations and the 70th Eastercon, Ytterbium. Ruth is found online at, or on twitter at @ruthejbooth. 

Bettina Burger

Heinrich-Heine University

“Insubstantial as a ghost” – Liminal Fantasy and Multi-Level Border Crossing in Lian Hearn’s Tales of the Otori 

Bio: Bettina Burger completed her B.A. degree in English Studies and History at Heidelberg University in 2012. In 2013, she graduated with an MSc degree in the course “Literature and Society: Enlightenment, Romanticism and Victorian Literature” from the University of Edinburgh and her thesis focused on 19th-century children’s literature and morality. She also gained an M.A. at Bonn University in 2016, where she researched the representation of women in fantasy literature. Currently, Bettina Burger teaches Anglophone Literatures at Heinrich-Heine-University, Düsseldorf, where she is also working on a fantasy literature PhD thesis. Her research interests are varied and include, among others, postcolonial and global literature, fantasy literature and science fiction, and Scottish literature. 

Céleste Callen

University of Edinburgh

Peter Pan: The Threshold of Time

Peter Pan’s character lives in our imaginations as the embodiment of childhood, of a particular in-between world in which time’s boundaries dissolve. I will be questioning the complex threshold that is the binary between childhood/adulthood, in relation to selfhood and time: when does childhood end and when does adulthood begin? In what ways does Barrie explore and deconstruct the categories of time and identity? I will be interested in questioning what lies beneath the words, the metaphorical images and the shifting voices in Barrie’s novel Peter and Wendy as well as the previous publication of the Little White Bird which first introduced the character of Peter Pan, to question the blurred portrayal of the sense of self in time.

Bio: Céleste Callen is an MSc and prospective PhD student (January 2020) in Nineteenth Century literature at the University of Edinburgh. For her Undergraduate degree in English Literature, she studied at King’s College London, with a dissertation exploring the blurred boundaries between the concepts of childhood and adulthood in Dickens and Barrie. Particularly interested in the concept of time in the period and its influence on the self, her Postgraduate dissertation focused on the concern for the passing of time in Balzac, Stevenson and Wilde. Her plans for the future aim to progress towards an academic career.

Jane Campbell

University of York

From Apollo’s Court to Avalon: on the threshold of the real and the imaginary in seventeenth-century Newfoundland

This paper will explore John Mason’s 1625 map of Newfoundland and the seventeenth-century colonies it depicts: Avalonia, Cambriolensis and Falkland. The founders of these colonies drew on Greek, Welsh and Arthurian myth and the ideas of the Elizabethan scientist and occultist, John Dee, in the conception and promotion of these colonies, intermingling the fantastical, utopian and scientific. 

Bio: Jane MacRae Campbell is in year three of a WRoCAH-funded PhD in History at York, ‘Atavism and Order in British utopias and New World projects, 1516-1729’, supervised by David Wootton and Sophie Weeks. She has an MA in English and Philosophy from St Andrews and an MA in History from Exeter.  In 2017, she published ‘Dress, Ideology, and Control: The Regulation of Clothing in Early Modern English Utopian Texts, 1516-1656’ in Utopian Studies and has a chapter on Balthazar Gerbier in Transnational Perspectives on the Conquest and Colonization of Latin America (Routledge, 2019).

Viviana Castellano

University of Bedfordshire

“Please’ is not a Body Part”: Abjection and Body Horror in George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire (Game of Thrones)

The paper will discuss the brutal, gruesome elements of the Ice and Fire novels/Game of Thrones television show and analyse the ways in which the rhetoric of horror is utilised through the abject body and corporeal horror. The paper also considers how these interplay with or collide with issues of identity and societal boundaries, and what this means for the genre of fantasy fiction.

Bio: Viviana Castellano is a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Bedfordshire. She gained her First Class B.A. (Hons) degree in English Studies in 2012 and was awarded her Master of Arts by Research in 2014 for her thesis on Eighteenth and Nineteenth-Century Women’s Fiction. Her Ph.D. is entitled: The Grimdark, the Bad and the Ugly: Subversions, Transgressions and the Self in George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire.

Yiran Chen

University of Edinburgh

One’s Nostalgia, Another’s Nightmare: Fantasies out of Modern Chinese Intellectuals’ Solitude around the 1930s

Bio: Yiran Chen is currently in her third year of PhD research in Chinese fantasy literature at the University of Edinburgh. She graduated from Sichuan University (China) with a BA degree in Chinese Language and Literature and then got an MSc degree in English at the University of Edinburgh. Yiran’s focus of research is on the Chinese fiction of the Republican Era (1912-1949). She is working on a dissertation on Chinese fantasy short stories and novels that are characterized by the spectral, the gothic, and the fantastical and reveal socio-cultural messages under non-symbolic textual analyses. 

Melanie Duckworth

Østfold University College

Being a Tree in the Anthropocene: Thresholds between humans and plants in Margaret Mahy’s Fantasy Fiction

Trees and plants occupy a special place in New Zealand writer Margaret Mahy’s imaginary, and her texts probe the thresholds between human and vegetal ways of being. Drawing on Donna Haraway’s notion of “making kin”, Val Plumwood’s philosophical animism, and recent developments in Critical Plant Studies, I will explore the ways that trees inhabit Mahy’s texts, and interrogate her characters’ intuitions that a magical connection between humans and plants may be mutually healing in the Anthropocene.

Bio: Melanie Duckworth is an Associate Professor of English at Østfold University College, Norway. She has a PhD from the University of Leeds and an MA in Medieval English Literatures from the University of York. She has published on Australian fiction and poetry, the Scottish eco-poet Kathleen Jamie, and historical fiction for children, and is currently co-editing a collection on plants in children’s and YA literature. 

Abigail Fine 

Queen Mary University

Starlight Shoes and Night-Sky Gowns: Boundary-Breaking Clothing in Children’s Literature and Imaginative Play 

Through an analysis of Sally Gardner’s I, Coriander and Ashley Poston’s Geekerella,my paper aims to draw attention to the importance of clothing as a means of crossing thresholds between fantastical and realistic spaces in children’s literature. I further argue that this importance has historically transcended the page to contribute to the creation of fantasy spaces in children’s imaginative play and in the ever-growing popularity of fan conventions.

Bio: Abigail Fine is a second-year PhD student at Queen Mary University of London. She holds an M.A. in History from William and Mary and an M.A. in English Literature from Georgetown University. She has presented at Homerton College, University of Cambridge’s “Alice Through the Ages” conference, and at the University of Bristol’s “All the World’s a Stage: Performance and Identity” conference. Her current research focuses on fashion and visual imagery associated with Cinderella adaptations for children. 

Emma French


“You had reached the brink of Fairyland” – Borders as the generating force of fantasy in Lud-in-the-Mist by Hope Mirrlees and The King of Elfland’s Daughter by Lord Dunsany

This paper will examine two texts in which the fantastic manifests itself as a tangible border between two countries, the human world and fairyland. Looking at Lud-in-the-Mist by Hope Mirrlees and The King of Elfland’s Daughter by Lord Dunsany, I will argue that it is characters’ interactions with these borders, rather than the magical lands which lie beyond, that most profoundly stage a confrontation with the fantastic.

Bio: Emma French graduated from the University of Oxford in 2015 and from the MLitt in Fantasy Literature at the University of Glasgow in 2019. Her Master’s thesis focused on the relationship between systematised magic and genre in contemporary fantasy novels, but her research is now concerned with wider fantasy media, examining the narratives produced through the collaborative storytelling of fantasy roleplaying games. She is currently applying for PhD programmes in order to continue her research into modern fantasy. She can be found on Twitter @howlsmovinglib  

Elliott Greene

University of Edinburgh

Androgynous Apotheosis in Brandon Sanderson’s Mistborn 

I will be discussing androgyny in Brandon Sanderson’s Mistborn trilogy, specifically the potentially problematic way it is represented in the figure of Sazed. I will be using Campbell’s The Hero With a Thousand Faces to frame this analysis, focusing particularly on his theories of male-female god figures. 

Bio: I am originally from Ireland and received my undergraduate degree in English Literature from University College Dublin. In 2016 I attended the University of Edinburgh for a Masters in Literature and Modernity and I am currently studying for a PhD also in Edinburgh. My studies have always revolved around fantasy literature and my current project is concerned with constructed binaries in modern fantasy. 

Alexandra Gushurst-Moore

University of York

‘Threshold, Boundary and Crossover in Fantasy’ conference co-organiser

Bio: Alex is a third year History of Art PhD student at the University of York, where she is completing a thesis titled ‘The Making of Modern Fantasy in the Visual Arts of England, c. 1850-1914’ under the supervision of Professor Elizabeth Prettejohn. She holds degrees from the University of Edinburgh and the University of Oxford, for which she wrote theses on J.R.R. Tolkien and Lewis Carroll. In 2018-19 she ran the York Fantasy Discussion Group and co-organised the ‘Re-Assessing Burne-Jones’ conference in partnership with the Ashmolean and the Tate. For the past two years she has served on the jury panel for the British Fantasy Award’s ‘Best Fantasy Artist’ category. She recently gave a talk on ‘British Fantasy Art’ at the Ashmolean, having previously worked there as a Print Room volunteer, helping to digitise the nineteenth and twentieth century British works on paper. 

Josephine Gushurst-Moore

The Courtauld Institute of Art

Fantasy and the mundane: why the unremarkable is a necessary bridge between our world and the other.

Josephine Gushurst-Moore is a history of art student, currently studying for her bachelor’s degree at the Courtauld Institute of Art. Her interests include Norse mythology, medieval northern European culture and the history of fairy tales. Josephine is a volunteer for the National Trust and works at the Josephine Clavel contemporary art gallery. 

Mariam Hale

University of York

‘Threshold, Boundary and Crossover in Fantasy’ conference co-organiser

Bio: Mariam Hale is a PhD candidate in History of Art at the University of York, supervised by Professor Elizabeth Prettejohn. She researches the representation of fantasy in late nineteenth-century Britain, with a focus on the interplay between literature and the visual arts. Mariam completed her BA in Political Science and Arabic at Williams College in 2014, and an MLitt in the History of Art in 2018 at the University of St Andrews, writing a dissertation on late-Victorian middle-class home decoration. She is a member of the editorial board of Aspectus: A Journal of Visual Culture, and a volunteer in the Costume and Textiles department at the York Castle Museum.

David Hartley 

University of Manchester

Neuroqueer Estrangement: Autism on the Rhetorical Threshold

Autism and the fantastic have a complex relationship which speaks to their shared engagement with the thresholds of what counts as ‘real’. This paper considers autism from the fantastical threshold to see what potential arises, and uses Abed Nadir, the autistic hero from TV sitcom Community, as its spiritual guide.

Bio: David Hartley is studying for a PhD in Creative Writing at The University of Manchester where he is looking at the intersection between neurodivergence and the fantastic while attempting to write a novel about autism and ghosts. His short fiction has been published in various literary magazines including AmbitBlack Static and BFS Horizons. He tweets at @Fantastic_Aut and @DHartleyWriter.

Susannah Heffernan 

University of Warwick

Creative Writing: A short story on the concept of motherhood

Bio: Susannah Heffernan is an emerging author of literary speculative fiction. Having gained her MA from the Warwick Writing Programme, she is currently a PhD candidate in Literary Practice. She has performed her work in London and the West Midlands, and appears in Open Pen magazine and the anthology, Singularity50, which awarded her ‘Most Outstanding Original Voice’ in 2018.

Jade Hinchliffe

University of Hull

Embodying Surveillance: Social Sorting and Biometrics in Lauren Beukes’ Moxyland (2008)

In this paper I will discuss how Lauren Beukes’ cyberpunk dystopian novel Moxyland, set in a fictionalised version of Cape Town,depicts class, race and gender inequalities through the ways that different characters have varying levels of access to technology and surveillance systems”

Bio:Jade Hinchliffe is a PhD researcher at the University of Hull funded by the North of England Consortium for Arts and Humanities. She has a first-class BA(Hons) and MA (by research) in English Literature from the University of Huddersfield. She is currently researching the impact of surveillance, social sorting and biometric technologies on identity and its portrayal in contemporary critical dystopian fiction. 

Suphi Keskin 

Bilkent University

Imperceptibility Between Belief and Fantasy: Becoming-Cosmos

Bio: Suphi Keskin (MA, Bilkent University) is a Master’s Degree student in the Department of Communication and Design at Bilkent University. His working fields are communication theory, philosophy of cinema and Turkish Literature. He published the book chapter in the context of media-driven sexism in Lutz Peschke’s Contextuality of New Media between User Generated Content and Professionalism entitled book in May 2017. Suphi has published Construction of Schizo-Subject within the Context of Deterritorialization in The Disconnected (2016) entitled article in Dokuz Eylül University Journal of Humanities in November 2018. His Analysis of The Time for Love (1965)’s Narration, Form and Visual Regime according to Sufism entitled article will be published in December 2018, in FSM Scholarly Studies Journal of Humanities and Social Sciences which is a journal scanned by EBSCOhost Database and Open Academic Journal Index. His Becoming-Animal in Narrative and Form: Becoming-Cosmos entitled paper submission is accepted by prestigious APL Conference 2019, Klagenfurt, Austria in which significant scholars such as Rosi Braidotti and Bernard Stiegler will participate.

Mia Khachidze


‘Impossible Worlds’: Coming of Age in Portal Fantasy

From Lewis Carroll’s Wonderland to J.K. Rowling’s Wizarding World, this paper traverses centuries and worlds in an attempt to explore the impossibilities that proliferate in portal fantasies of all types. Examining various constructions of ‘impossible spaces’ from over the past few decades, drawn from Foucault and fantasy novels alike, it will use the doorway into the portal world to open the door to understanding an even more perplexing threshold: coming of age.

Bio: Mia E. Khachidze (they/she) is an independent researcher whose work combines literary criticism, philosophy and queer theory. They are currently working on a project which examines the evolution of the subversive school novel across women’s literature of the twentieth century, while moonlighting as a researcher of YA and speculative fiction. They can be contacted at or found on Twitter @MiaKhach.

Keiko Kimura

Kobe Women’s University 

Pedro Almodóvar’ Talk to Her and the “Sleeping Beauty”

My presentation analyzes the film Talk to Her (2002), written and directed by Spanish director Pedro Almodóvar, from the perspective of the “Sleeping Beauty” fairy tale.  

Bio: Keiko Kimura teaches at English department at Kobe Women’s University in Japan. She specializes in English and American literature/culture and comparative literature/culture. She is the author of numerous volumes of essays and articles in English and Japanese. Her books include Sylvia Plath: Father’s daughter, mother’s daughter. She holds a PhD in English Literature from the University of Lancaster, UK.

Anna Köhler

Aachen University 

Magic and science, magic as science: Blurring the boundaries between fantasy and science fiction

This paper explores the ways in which contemporary popular texts question the boundaries between science and magic, and thereby those between fantasy and science fiction, the possible and the impossible, and enchantment and rational thought.

Bio: Anna Köhler is a PhD candidate at the Chair of British Literature at RWTH Aachen University, Germany. Her PhD project explores the way in which cultural models of gender are reflected, challenged and negotiated in contemporary fantasy literature through magic and magic users. Her research interests beyond the fantastic include feminist approaches to literature, cognitive literary studies, worldbuilding, contemporary film, and anything that will give her an excuse to buy more books.  

Heidi A. Lawrence 

University of Glasgow

The Overlap of Fantasy and Reality in Madeleine L’Engle’s Literature for Children and Young Adults

Bio: Heidi Lawrence is a PhD candidate with the University of Glasgow. She is researching fantasy and reality in children’s and young adult literature, through a lens of Ecopsychology. Her thesis focuses specifically on Madeleine L’Engle’s three series of children’s and Young Adult literature: the Time series, the Polly O’Keefe series, and the Austin family series. She also teaches part-time at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, USA, and raises two children and keeps a house and husband on the side.

Sam Lehman

Memorial University of Newfoundland

The Conjuring Acts of a Weather Witch and a Powerful Priestess: Examining the Role of Magic as a Physical and Social Boundary in The Mists of Avalon and the Circle of Magic

Bio: Sam Lehman is a PhD student at Memorial University of Newfoundland, in Canada, where she studies Arthurian literature and popular culture. Her research interests include medievalism, Arthurian adaptations, women in medieval literature, the role of magic as a tool of trauma, and fan studies.

Rongkun Liu

University of York

Old English and Old Norse V1 in Fantasy Story-telling

Bio: Rongkun Liu is currently a first-year Linguistics PhD student at the University of York supervised by Dr. Ann Taylor, working on Old English prepositions with historical corpora. His interests include historical linguistics, ancient Germanic literature and generative syntax. He attended several related conferences in Edinburgh. Rongkun Liu was born in Southern China and studied B.A. English/French Literature at the Sun Yat-Sen University. He obtained his master degree in Linguistics at the University of Edinburgh under the supervision of Dr. Linda Van Bergen and Dr. Caroline Heycock. Rongkun is particularly keen on ancient languages and literatures with a focus on the Anglo-Saxon. Having spent one-year exchange in Lyon (France), he is fluent and interested in French as well.

Auba Llompart Pons

Universitat de Vic – Universitat Central de Catalunya

Transgressing Narrative Boundaries Through Magic: Metafiction and Metalepsis in Harry Potter

This paper aims to look into how fantasy children’s author J. K. Rowling uses metafictional devices to transgress narrative boundaries and spread the magic across the diegetic, intradiegetic and extradiegetic worlds of the Potterverse.

Bio: Auba Llompart Pons obtained her PhD in English Literature in 2014 (Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona), and she currently works as an Associate Professor at Universitat de Vic – Universitat Central de Catalunya, where she teaches English language and culture at the Translation, Interpreting and Applied Languages Department. Her research interests include Children’s and YA Literature, Fairy Tales, Gender Studies, Fantasy and Gothic Studies.

Aleksandra Łozińska

Jagiellonian University

Sensitiveness of knowledge – the boundary between human and other in Ben Aaronovitch’s Rivers of London series

The talk will be centred around the way Ben Aaronovitch subverses certain urban fantasy tropes concerning intelligent fantastic beings in his Rivers of Londonseries. Particular attention will be given to the ways production of knowledge about such subjects is framed within the series, where creating racial difference and power dynamics between the studying and the studied are consciously evoked contexts.

Bio: Aleksandra Łozińska: I am a PhD candidate at the Faculty of Polish Studies at the 

Jagiellonian University, where I am preparing a dissertation about the urban turn in fantasy. My master thesis was devoted to the role of monstrosity in chosen New Weird series. Among others I have published papers on Neil Gaiman’s, China Miéville’s, Jonathan Stroud’s, Megan Lindholm’s and Michael Swanwick’s works. My main research interest are the textual representations and creations of cities, especially in popular culture. 

Vanwy MacDonald Arif


Creative Writing: The Fourth Child

Bio: After a BA in English, Sociology and Anthropology, Vanwy completed her MA in Writing at Warwick in 01/09/19, studying Sebald’s fact and fiction under Michael Hulse. She hopes to apply for her PhD this year.  Her earlier teaching experience encouraged her young-adult writing. Vanwy’s life in liminal communities sparked her interest in othering in post-colonial Britain. In 2017 Vanwy’s piece on gender socialisation was long-listed by The Room. Vanwy has published fantasy (Godiva Ahmed and The Fourth Child) in Manifest and Chimera by Ball Bearing Press. She has presented at the Gothic Conference, the PG Symposium (Warwick)and Women’s Writing (Hull).

Raman Malik

University of Sheffield

Imagined Reality: Nuclear War in Godzilla and Crimes in Sacred Games

My paper, ‘Imagined Reality: Nuclear War in Godzilla and Crimes in Sacred Games’, portrays, how, reality is depicted via elements of fancy and vice-versa. It shows, how, the reality of power-politics and, territorial supremacy, reasons that were and will be the extinction of human race, are represented fantastically in Godzilla and Sacred Games. 

Bio: Raman is a PhD student at the University of Sheffield, working on ‘Subdued and Misrepresented Child Voices in British Fantasy Literature from 18th century to 20th century.’ He completed his M.Phil. English with first division from Amity University in 2018, with a dissertation on -‘The Representation of Magical Realism in C.S. Lewis’ The Chronicles of Narnia.’ His interests lie in studying all forms of fantasy literature that includes fairy tales, science fiction, mystery and supernatural fantasy. His hobbies include reading and playing football. He recently finished reading Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials, and has begun Necronomicon by H.P. Lovecraft. 

Kevan Manwaring

University of Winchester

The Edge of Fantasy: Liminality as Trope, Trait, and Process

Exploring different kinds of liminality, this paper suggests that the best Fantasy occurs spatially, psychologically and linguistically – and in the ‘zones’ into which the writer themselves enter.

Bio: Dr Kevan Manwaring is a writer and lecturer in creative writing (University of Winchester). His articles have appeared in Writing in Practice, New Writing, Axon, and The London Magazine, and he is a guest editor for Revenant: critical and creative studies of the supernatural. His books include The Long Woman (2004); The Bardic Handbook (2006); Oxfordshire Folk Tales (2012); Northamptonshire Folk Tales (2013); Desiring Dragons: creative, imagination and the writer’s quest (2014); and Ballad Tales (2017). He is a Fellow of Hawthornden, The Eccles Centre (British Library) and the Higher Education Academy. He blogs and tweets as the Bardic Academic. 

Claudia Marzollo


The Phantom of Reality. Poetics of Extrañamiento and Descolocación in Ricardo Romero’s The President’s Room

Julio Cortázar’s theory of the fantastic is very much concerned with the idea that there is more to reality than what it is generally believed. In light of this idea, the paper explores the ways Ricardo Romero’s novel The President’s Room uses the thin line between the fantastic and the real in order to open the reader’s eyes to a reality which is “other”. 

Bio: Claudia Marzollo has recently finished her master’s programme in Comparative 

Literature at the University of Edinburgh. Previously, she obtained a degree in foreign languages from the University of Trento, Italy, with a specialisation in English and Spanish literature. Her most recent research has been particularly focused on the notion of the fantastic in literature, exploring the ways it can be used to challenge received notions of reality. She is especially interested in the representation of gender and the notion of gender intelligibility in fantastic fiction. 

Charley Matthews

University of Edinburgh

Ecofeminism and Thresholds of Disaster in Sylvia Townsend Warner’s Kingdoms of Elfin

My paper will explore Sylvia Townsend Warner’s final short story collection, Kingdoms of Elfin, in which her ecofeminist perspective evolves into pessimism, and she depicts the threatening destruction of elfin society in a prescient allegory for climate change and ecological disaster.

Bio: Charley Matthews is a recent graduate in MSc Book History at the University of Edinburgh, beginning their PhD in Library History in September 2020. Their research interests include the Gothic novel and fantasy novel, the history of reading, and historical and fictional women in the library. In May 2019, they co-organized a one-day Book History conference for postgraduates at the University of Edinburgh, entitled Off the Shelf: Expanding the Boundaries of Book History.

Rory McAteer


“Here the Wits of Sophists, Astrologers, and Poets Abound” – Travelling to the Moon in Ludovico Ariosto’s Orlando Furioso

In this paper, I will explore the cultural significance of the Moon and lunar travel within the history of the fantasy genre. Focusing on the lunar trip in Canto XXXIV of Ludovico Ariosto’s Orlando Furioso (1532), I will use this famous episode as a key departure point by which we can unlock the Moon’s influential role as a symbolic mirror to our own world, therefore becoming a realm where the generic boundaries of fantasy can be defined, tested, and transformed.

Bio: Rory McAteer is an English first-class graduate and Film & Literature Master’s graduate (with distinction) from the University of York. I specialised in medieval Italian poetry (Dante’s La Divina Commedia and Ariosto’s Orlando Furioso) during my undergraduate degree, ultimately writing my final dissertation on representations of madness within the Furioso. Within my Master’s, I specialised in Japanese cinema, focusing on the concept of post-war nationalism within American Occupation-era Japan through the films of OzuKurosawa, and Mizoguchi. I now work within the Executive Education sector at London Business School.

Tom McLeish

University of York

Liminal Spaces and Crossings-Over as Cognitive Connections of Fantastic Imagination in Art and Science

The cognitive exercise of imagination, extending to the extreme level of the fantastic, is as essential in the creation of scientific worlds as in fictional narrative. Within a highly universal experienced story of the creative process, especially those that strain lived experience beyond breaking point, moments of ‘inspiration’ almost invariably occur during crossings-over. Examples from the recent book, The Poetry and Music of Science (OUP 2019) illustrate the visit of the ‘liminal muse’, from Heisenberg’s trance-like conception of quantum mechanics to the distorted space-times of Virginia Woolf and Vladimir Nabokov.

Bio: Tom McLeish, FRS, is Professor of Natural Philosophy in the Department of Physics and also in the Centre for Medieval Studies at the University of York, UK. His research in ‘soft matter and biological physics,’ is highly interdisciplinary, including industrial collaboration. He has published at academic and popular levels in theology/science and humanities/science issues including the books Faith and Wisdom in Science (OUP 2014) and The Poetry and Music of Science (OUP 2019). He is currently Chair of the Royal Society’s Education Committee and a Trustee of the John Templeton Foundation. 

Steve Nash

Leeds Beckett University

Romancing the Puritan: Writing the Boundary of Childhood in Victorian Fantasy and the Moral Reward Tale

Bio: Dr Steve Nash is a lecturer in Literature at Leeds Beckett University, and an associate Lecturer at the University of Derby. Steve’s Ph.D research focused on the work of the largely forgotten Victorian author Hesba Stretton (Sarah Smith), and his most recent book chapter explores the narrative structures of the Nordic Eddas and their Western interpretations. Steve is also a creative writer and Saboteur Award Winner for Performer of the Year. His new collection, Myth Gatherers was released in May 2019.

Katherine O’Connor

Teeside University

At the Boundary of the Unreal, One Frame at a Time

This paper will examine the fantastic and the uncanny with in the genre of animation. Through an analytical review and curated selection of short animations it will illustrate pictorial representations of these themes.

Bio: Graduating with a BA (Hons) Animation in 1999, my animated films have been shown all around the world. I have taught animation for nearly twenty years at Teesside University and specialise in 2D and stop-motion animation. My interest in the concept of the uncanny first began when I encountered Freud’s essay The Uncanny (1919) whilst studying MA Fine Art. This passion to the search for the uncanny now manifests itself in the form of a practice based PhD looking at the uncanny in animation, and in particular stop-motion animation and the themes of entrapment, darkness, silence and solitude. 

Katarina O’Dette

University of Nottingham

It’s Not Fantasy, It’s HBO: Marketing Genre in Game of Thrones

This paper examines how the fantasy genre was filtered through HBO’s brand in marketing materials and promotional discourses for Game of Thrones over the series’ eight-season run. Understanding how HBO defined fantasy in GoT is key to understanding how the US television industry currently defines fantasy television and, as a result, what the next few years of fantasy on the small screen might look like.

Bio: Katarina O’Dette is a writer and second-year Film and Television Studies PhD candidate at the University of Nottingham. Her research interests include fantasy television, genre theory, and media industry studies. She holds a BFA in television writing from the University of Southern California and an MLitt in Fantasy from the University of Glasgow. In addition to earning responsible degrees, she serves on the organising committee of GIFCon and has worked as a Television Academy Foundation intern in the writers’ room of Haven. Her work can be found in Fantastika JournalSlayage: Journal of Whedon Studies, and A Shadow Within: Evil in Fantasy and Science Fiction.

Molly O’Gorman

University of Cambridge

Creating Monsters: Posthuman Language in Lewis Carroll’s ‘Jabberwocky’

This talk will examine the use of posthuman language in creating a monster beyond human conception, and whether an attempt to divorce language from its traditionally representative function can be successful.

Bio: Molly O’Gorman is at the University of Cambridge. Her academic interests are in posthumanism and the sublime, which she is currently studying in relation to the works of Lewis Carroll. She lives in Dublin.

Leah Phillips

University of Warwick

Mythopoeic YA’s Female-Heroes: Occupying the Spaces Between Oppositions

This paper will consider how mythopoeic YA’s female-heroes — adolescent girls pushing the boundaries of what it means to be hero, girl, and even human — disrupt the violent hierarchy, radical alterity and erasure, particularly of bodily difference, established and naturalised by traditional hero stories.

Bio: Dr Leah Phillips is Senior Sessional Lecturer at the University of Warwick. Her research interests include representations of female adolescence in Young Adult (YA) fiction, especially fantasy. Her paper today draws on Female Heroes in Young Adult Fantasy Fiction: Reframing Myths of Adolescent Girlhood, which is due out with Bloomsbury later in 2020. She’s a member of the Children’s Literature Association’s Phoenix Award committee and founder of the YA: Literature, Media and Culture association. Her next research project will focus on a re-theorizing of YA, paying particular attention to markets and fields outside of the dominant American, especially UKYA.

Cheryl Powell


Creative Writing: Anguilla

Bio: Cheryl Powell is a writer of weird flash fiction and short stories, focusing on the fantastically flawed and grotesque. She has an MA from the Warwick Writing Programme and her short stories have appeared in Reflex Fiction, The Mechanics Institute Review 2018LitroEveryday  FictionSpelk,  Rattles  TalesBreaking the SurfaceKamenaFlash Fiction Magazine and in the Disturbing the Beast anthology, published by Boudicca Press. The Liars’ League, Hong Kong have performed her work. 

Stella Pryce

University of Cambridge

The ‘Betwixt and Between’: Fantasy Literature and Spectral Children 

This paper uses spectrality theory to interrogate the figure of the child in fantasy literature as a form of ‘living ghost’. It argues that the thresholds associated with fantasy fiction render child protagonists liminal, residing on the boundaries of selfhood and identity.

Bio: I am a second year PhD student and ESRC scholar in Children’s Literature, at the University of Cambridge. My thesis is entitled, ‘The Spectre of Childhood’ which bridges the gap between Children’s Literature studies and Spectrality Theory. Specifically, my research examines childhood identity and positions the figure of the child as spectral, in Twentieth Century, British Children’s Fiction.

Miquel Pujol-Tubau

University of Vic – Central University of Catalonia

One franchise to transform them all: on the evolution of literary characters becoming transmedia

Bio: Miquel Pujol-Tubau is currently a lecturer in Translation Studies at the University of Vic – Central University of Catalonia, where he teaches translation theory and audiovisual translation both at undergraduate and postgraduate level. In 2015, he completed his PhD thesis, which deals with the use of dubbing in the representation of characters in films and videogames belonging to a transmedia storytelling project. His research interests include intertextuality, audiovisual translation, multilingualism, localization and media studies.

Jun Qiang

University of York

‘Threshold, Boundary and Crossover in Fantasy’ conference co-organiser

Crossing the Boundary: Genre, Gender, and Media in Twenty-first-century Chinese Fantasy 

This talk is about the genre, media, and gender boundary in three Chinese Fantasies in the 21st century.

Bio: Jun Qiang ( Twitter @JunQiang15) is a PhD candidate in English Literature at the University of York where she is working on spatial research. Her current research is concerned with spatial issues in texts, with special focus on place and space in Edith Wharton’s transatlantic fiction and historical materials of late 19th and early 20th centuries. Jun finished her master programme of U.S. Literature in the University of Edinburgh. Her current interests include Edith Wharton, Place and Space, American and Asian Literature, Feminine and Queer Narrative, Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Critical Theory.  

Olly Teregulova

Durham University

H. G. Wells, The Time Machine, and the Limits of the Real 

This paper will explore the presentation of the eponymous time-travelling apparatus in H. G. Wells’s science fiction novella The Time Machine (1895). It will discuss the relationship between the time machine and nineteenth-century conceptions of consciousness, temporality, and the collective unconscious— viewing the fantastical device as the embodiment of the technological and the mythic.

Bio: Olly Teregulova is a doctoral Von Hügel scholar in the English Studies Department at Durham University. Her thesis is on H. G. Wells and the mind— looking at Wells’s exploration of forms of cognition and states of consciousness, the classification of knowledge, and nineteenth-century physics and philosophy. 

Amelha Timoner

Université Paris Nanterre

‘A few dozen words conjure up an entire picture, but in all honesty the reader does most of the work’: authorial struggle and reader empowerment in Jasper Fforde’s ‘Thursday Next’ novels

In this paper I will show how the ‘Thursday Next’ novels playfully question the traditional hierarchical relationship between author and reader, through the means of metafiction. I will also focus on real and fictional fan contributions, as both take part in the authorial deconstruction process.

Bio: Amelha Timoner is a doctoral student at the Université Paris Nanterre. After studying crises of authority in Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials for her MA dissertation, she is now preparing a doctoral thesis on the same topic but focusing on a different author, Jasper Fforde. Her main research interests include fantasy fiction, transfictionality, children’s literature and canon/fanon relationships. 

Rodanthi Vardouli

Harvard University Graduate School of Design

Crossing Over to the Oneiric: Performing Un Chien Andalou‘s Silent Diegesis

Bio: Rodanthi Vardouli is a PhD Candidate in Architecture at the Harvard University Graduate School of Design. Her doctoral research positions the artistic and architectural production of the early 20th century avant-garde in Europe in relation to emerging theories of performance and performativity in the humanities. Originally trained as an Architect Engineer (National Technical University of Athens School of Architecture, 2010), Rodanthi pursued graduate studies in Athens (Graduate Specialization Diploma in Design Space Culture, 2012) and at MIT (Masters of Science in Architecture Studies, 2014) where she conducted joint research between the History Theory Criticism and the Architectural Design areas of study, as scholar of the Fulbright Greece, Alexander S. Onassis and A.G. Leventis Foundations. For her research at MIT, which focused on Kurt Schwitters’ Merzbau, she was awarded the Arthur Rotch Special Prize for highest academic achievement and original contributions to multiple research fields. 

Vidya Venkatesh

University of Cambridge

Genre Confusion and Alien Intimacy in the Fiction of Ursula K. Le Guin

Bio: Vidya Venkatesh is a PhD candidate in English at King’s College, University of Cambridge. She holds a BA in Philosophy from Williams College, an MA in Philosophy from University College Dublin, and an MPhil in English from the University of Cambridge. She researches the role of affect in maintaining and dissolving conceptual boundaries in Wittgenstein’s later writings and ordinary language philosophy more broadly. This is her first scholarly examination of affective boundaries in a fantasy context. 

Samanta Viziale

University of Turin

Threshold of Magic: Anthropological Analysis of Light in the Visual Culture of Fantasy

Light can create a gate into another world. This presentation analyses the role that light has for humans in creating a fantastic atmosphere; and also how we can use light effects to inspire magic.

Bio: Samanta Viziale was born in Pinerolo (Italy) in 1994, she graduated in Painting at the Academy of Fine Arts of Cuneo in 2016 with a thesis entitled “Connections”; she finished her master’s degree in Cultural Anthropology and Ethnology at the University of Turin in 2018, studying the connections between the aesthetic and the spiritual experiences in a religious community. Her fields of study are the anthropology of religion, arts and
aesthetics, and their connections. In 2019 she finished a training course in Philosophy for Children at the University of Florence. She’s a member of the Italian Society for Applied Anthropology. Currently she’s a PhD student in Arts and Humanities at the University of Turin.

Renée Volkers


“The Minotaur is Myself”: The Surrealist’s Alter-Ego of the Minotaur

Bio: Renée Volkers (1993) received her master’s degree in Art History at Utrecht University (NL) in 2019, specialising in interwar modernism and Surrealist art. Her master’s thesis investigated the appropriation of so-called “primitive” sculpture in Surrealism through notions of Otherness. Part of this research was presented at the inaugural conference of the International Society for the Study of Surrealism in Lewisburg, PA. During internships, she worked as a provenance researcher at Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen in Rotterdam and was editorial assistant for said Museum’s Surrealist collection catalogue. In 2018, she was assistant-curator of the exhibition ‘Gabriele Münter – Painting to the point’ at Museum Ludwig, Cologne (DE).

Lois Wilson

University of Edinburgh

“Perhaps She Was Mad:” Crossing the Threshold in Marge Piercy’s Woman on the Edge of Time 

Bio: Lois Wilson is a second-year PhD candidate at the University of Edinburgh researching creation myths in contemporary speculative fiction, funded by the Carnegie Trust for the Universities of Scotland. Lois is a reviewer for Forum, a postgraduate peer-review journal; and a reader for the James Tait Black Memorial Prize. 

Mariam Zia

Lahore School of Economics

Salman Rushdie and The Eastern “Fantasy” Tradition

Bio: Dr. Mariam Zia is Assistant Professor at the Department of Social Sciences, Lahore School of Economics in Pakistan. Her PhD thesis, which she completed at the University of Sussex in 2017, is titled “Religious Orientations, Storytelling and the Uncanny: A Reading of The Adventures of Amir Hamza.” Dr. Zia worked for Pakistan’s first English-language news channel for five years reporting on terrorism and education before beginning her PhD.