Emma French


Research title: Dungeons and Dragons as transformative fantasy

Research Summary

My research is focused on the intertextualities between literary fantasy and the tabletop roleplaying game Dungeons & Dragons (D&D). Rather than presenting D&D’s relationship to literary fantasy as solely derivative, I instead argue that this roleplaying game provides a pro-active, or interactive, way for different communities of practice within fantasy readership and wider transmedial fantasy fandom to challenge the established traditions of fantasy’s literary canon. While D&D has often been presented as consolidating and securing the mores of fantasy-as-formula, the multiple modes of collaborative authorship present within the game structure instead manifest readers’ transformative responses to genre.

My project will examine contemporary fantasy through the lens of assemblage theory, and its wider context as a participatory culture. To exemplify D&D's transformative mode of authorship, I will be utilising actual play media texts such as Critical Role, The Adventure Zone, and Dimension 20.

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