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GIFCon 2023

Glasgow International Fantasy Conversations

Boundaries and Margins

10-12 May 2023, Online


You can register for GIFCon 2023 here

You can now access our GIFCon 2023 Programme

More information about the Workshops and Roundtables here


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Access the GIFCon 2023 Discord here

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Keynote Speakers



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. 



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

‘A Fantastic Conversation’ 




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. 


Call For Papers

Boundaries and Margins in Fantasy 

The Centre for Fantasy and the Fantastic is pleased to announce a call for papers for Glasgow International Fantasy Conversations (GIFCon) 2023 (to be held online on 10-12 May 2023) with the theme of ‘Boundaries and Margins’

Brian Attebery famously argued in Strategies of Fantasy that fantasy can be conceptualised as a ‘fuzzy set,’ with the edges of the genre mainly understood through the lens of what is placed at its centre. Given the subjectivity inherent to this definition, notions of boundaries (or lack there-of) have been a key concern to academic and critical discourse on fantasy and the fantastic, as well as a preoccupation of fictional texts, with fantastical occurrences often being germinated in liminal spaces and margins. As Rosemary Jackson claims in Fantasy: A Literature of Subversion, “The dismissal of the fantastic to the margins of literary culture is in itself an ideologically significant gesture, one which is not dissimilar to culture’s silencing of unreason.” However, while fantasy fandom has historically perceived itself as being on the margins, the genre and its presumed canon privileges a narrow selection of voices and texts, pushing alternate perspectives to the edges of the fuzzy set. Despite the conception of fantasy as the literature of the impossible, the delimitation of margins and boundaries can undermine the potential offered by multiplicity, eliding certain works and creative practitioners from genre, subcultural fan communities, and academic research. 

Boundaries and their transgression have often been seen as inherent to textual encounters with fantasy. This thematic concern with the perceived limits of consensus reality arguably makes it uniquely suited for representing the lived experience of those marginalised by such definitions of realism. Examining the borders of both reality and the genre are central to contemporary fantasy studies, from negotiating the fantastical geographies of works such as Lud-in-the-Mist, Doctor Who, and The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild to contested borders of genre in Gideon the Ninth, Star Wars, and Horizon: Zero Dawn. The genre is increasingly acknowledging the perspective of racially, culturally, and ethnically marginalised creative practitioners, such as in the works of Nalo Hopkinson, Guillermo del Torro, NK Jemisin, Rebecca Roanhorse, and Nghi Vho. Fantasy’s academic discourse is becoming less concerned with establishing a canonical ‘centre’ and more with examining those margins, as seen in the work of Sami Schalk, Ebony Elizabeth Thomas, Rukmini Pande, and Maria Sachiko Cecire. Marginality is the space where fantasy happens.  

How do academics, creative practitioners, and fans create, enforce, or challenge boundaries in the production, distribution, and reception of fantasy texts? Fantasy and the fantastic have myriad capabilities for challenging hegemony, but how can that capacity be fully utilised? 

GIFCon 2023 is a three-day virtual conference that seeks to examine boundaries and margins within fantasy, be they textual, linguistic, geographical, embodied, or imposed. 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 fantasy from the margins. We also invite ideas for creative workshops for those interested in exploring how the creative processes of fantastic storytelling and worldbuilding can engage with boundaries and margins  from a practice-based perspective.  

We ask for 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 January 6th 2023 at midnight GMT

We also ask for workshop descriptions for 75-minute creative workshops. Please submit a 100-word description and a 100-word bionote via this form by January 6th 2023 at midnight GMT

If you have any questions regarding our event or our CfP, please contact us at Please also read through our Code of Conduct. We look forward to your submissions! 

Suggested Topics

Suggested topics include, but are not limited to, the following: 

  • Fantasy texts and media by creative practitioners from marginalised backgrounds  
  • The mediation of marginality and marginalised identities in fantasy and fantasy worldbuilding 
  • Liminality, threshold-crossing, and physical or intangible borders in fantasy 
  • Boundaries or lack thereof between fantasy media (including but not limited to literature, film, television, theatre, oral traditions, comic books, video and tabletop games, new media, virtual reality, theme parks, podcasts, scripts, visual arts) 
  • Characters and creatures on the margins 
  • Texts and practices beyond the Anglophone and Anglocentric fantastic 
  • Boundaries of bodies, gender, sexuality, and romantic attraction in fantasy 
  • Boundaries of race and ethnicity in fantasy 
  • Representations of class in fantasy media, and its role in shaping fandom, creative practice, and academic research 
  • Transgressions of boundaries 
  • Boundaries between fantasy and reality or realism 
  • Intertextuality, metatextuality, and marginalia in fantasy 
  • Regional genres and traditions of fantasy 
  • Hybridity in genre and form, problems of classification and definition in fantasy and the fantastic 
  • Boundaries in magic systems 
  • Interdisciplinarity and cross-disciplinarity 
  • Fandom as marginalised community, and fans’ own practices of enforcing boundaries, e.g. gatekeeping 
  • Fantasy creation, fandom, and academic research as cult practices 
  • The role of marketing and promotional materials in shaping boundaries and margins 
  • Awards and notions of legitimacy as boundaries 
  • Fantasy, the fantastic, folklore and myth in national and regional contexts 
  • Worldbuilding and fictional boundaries 
  • Boundaries and margins on fantasy in the academy 
  • Negotiation of boundaries placed by cultural industries and governments 



Submission Guidelines

Please use our online forms for paper and workshop submissions. We aim to review all submissions within a month of the deadline. 

We ask for 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 January 6th 2023 at midnight GMT

We also ask for workshop descriptions for 75-minute creative workshops. Please submit a 100-word description and a 100-word bionote via this form by January 6th 2023 at midnight GMT


Submissions will be accepted based on the following critia:

1) Fit to the Theme
2) Providing an Argument Overview
3) Scope for the Time
4) Demonstrating the Ability for Completion 

If you have any further questions on submissions please reach out to

GIFCon Code of Conduct

GIFCon Code of Conduct

GIFCon aims to be an inclusive and diverse space for scholars, students, creatives, fans, and the general public.

As one of the flasghip annual activities of the Centre for Fantasy and the Fantastic, GIFCon is covered by the CFF Code of Conduct. Please take the time to read it carefully.

In addition, please note the GIFCon Netiquette below:

  1. The GIFCon Netiquette complies with the guidelines set out by the Centre for Fantasy and the Fantastic’s Code of Conduct. 
  2. GIFCon acknowledges concerns regarding the circulation of recorded talks or written papers online. Speakers and Attendees will be asked for their permission to be recorded during any of GIFCon's online activities or events prior to such recording taking place.
  3. Speakers may choose to upload their paper or presentation to the platform of their choice and provide a URL link to be made available to Attendees. Alternatively, they can provide the GIFCon Organisers with a version of the presentation in advance for accessibility purposes.
  4. We are aware that platforms such as Zoom are not available globally and we are working on different alternatives to accommodate Attendees to all our events and activities. If you have any concerns in this regard, please contact GIFCon 

Policy for Participation in Online Sessions (Panels, Keynotes, and/or Workshops) 

  1. The default setting for Attendees should be to have microphones muted. This is to avoid background noises that may disrupt the sessions. 
  2. For conferences and panels, Speakers will unmute to engage in presentation and/or discussion. 
  3. Workshop organisers will instruct Attendees regarding the specific dynamics of their events. 
  4. When the event platform and settings allow, Attendees can choose whether they wish to engage or not with the video component of the event. Both video options (on or off) are valid.
  5. If the Attendees’ video and audio has been muted, they can communicate and pose their questions via the chat function or the Q&A section. Otherwise, questions for sessions, panels, keynotes, or workshops will begin only once the moderator and/or organizers invite questions. Do not interrupt either speakers or moderators to pose questions. 
  6. Screen sharing will be enabled only for Committee Members, scheduled Speakers, and/or Moderators. Once Speakers have finished with the presentation, they should end the sharing of their screen. 
  7. Attendees are welcome to post comments on the chat function of the platforms used by GIFCon during sessions, panels, keynotes, or workshops, as long as they abide by our COC. 
  8. Q&A sessions and discussions must comply with our COC. 
  9. During GIFCon, all backgrounds in Zoom, Discord, YouTube, and so on must adhere to our COC. 
  10. Presenters will be able to request that Attendees refrain from live tweeting about their specific presentation for any reason. Attendees are expected to honour this request. 
  11. Depending on the severity of the incident, violations to our Netiquette will be regarded as outlined by our Anti-Harassment and Anti-Bullying Policy. This can result in warning those concerned and asking them to modify their behaviour; restricting contact with Centre Members and Attendees, including banning those concerned from specific online sessions or the symposium altogether; and contacting University of Glasgow Authorities. 

Equality, Diversity, and Accessibility Policy 

Everybody can help 

We believe everybody at GIFCon can contribute to making this event a safe and welcoming environment. Whether you are an Organiser, a Volunteer, Speaker, or an Attendee, please consider the following: 

Conferences, Panels, and Workshops 

If you are a Speaker at GIFCon, you will be given guidelines that include suggestions such as: 

  • If you are prerecording your presentation or would like your Chair to have a backup copy of your presentation materials, please send presentation materials to 
  • If you are reading your presentation and are comfortable with showing your face during our online sessions, it is really helpful to keep your mouth visible when speaking for those who lip-read. 
  • Speakers also have the possibility of sharing their written paper with GIFCon attendees as a means to make their presentation more accessible for those with visual or hearing impairments. If this is something you would like to do, please contact our Committee.

For presentations with PowerPoint slides, please consider the following: 

  • If your slides include text, you can try to use it sparingly and in bold, large, and clear fonts in colours that have a high contrast with the background colour of your slides. Reading the text of your slides out loud during your presentation is helpful. 
  • Avoid red or green to either highlight or emphasise anything on your slides, as these colours can be difficult for those with visual impairments. 
  • The templates provided by PowerPoint, as they are pre-approved for screen readers and other accessibility devices. 
  • If your slides include images, please incorporate alt text (a brief one or two sentence description to accompany the image) or verbally describe the image during the presentation. This can be extremely helpful for Attendees with visual impairments and neurodiverse Attendees. 
  • If online events or activities take place on Zoom, the Deputy Chair will enable Zoom subtitles at the beginning of the event. You can personalize how subtitles appear on your screen by clicking the “Live Transcript” button on your Zoom menu. 
  • You can also help create subtitles in your PowerPoint slides to help people follow along. Instructions on how to do this can be found on the Microsoft Support website: Present with real-time, automatic captions or subtitles in PowerPoint.
  • More information on how to create accessible PowerPoint slides can be found at the Microsoft Office Support website.
  • If your presentation includes documents created with a Microsoft Office programme, we encourage you to use the Accessibility Checker. 
  • For more information, feel free to visit this site on dyslexia and this one on visual impairments.  
  • If your presentation, paper, or workshop covers sensitive materials or subjects, the GIFCon Committee asks that you give a trigger warning at the start of your talk.  
  • Please let the Committee know if you plan to use any flashing images or strobes so that Attendees can be advised in advance. 


How to attend GIFCon 2023

GIFCon 2023 Boundaries and Margins will take place online. 

Registration can be found here.

GIFCon 2023 Committee

Chair: Dr Dimitra Fimi

Deputy Chair: Katarina O'Dette

Social Media officer: Emma French

Events officer: Grace Worm

Communications officer: Rev. Tom Emanuel

Fantasy MLitt Liaison: Hannah Mimiec


GIFCon Committee Bios


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 received a BFA in screenwriting from the University of Southern California and an MLitt in Fantasy from the University of Glasgow. She serves as a general editor on Mapping the Impossible: Journal for Fantasy Research. Her research can be found in Fantastika JournalSlayageA Shadow Within: Evil in Fantasy and Science Fiction, and Extrapolation.


Dr Dimitra Fimi (she/her) is Senior Lecturer in Fantasy and Children’s Literature and co-Director of the Centre for Fantasy and the Fantastic at the University of Glasgow. She has published two award-winning monographs on J.R.R. Tolkien and on Celtic-inspired children’s fantasy, and she has co-edited original manuscripts by Tolkien on linguistic invention. She blogs at:




Pic provided by Emma French
Emma French
 (she/her) is a 3rd year SGSAH-funded PhD student at the University of Glasgow, researching how Dungeons & Dragons (D&D) consolidates our notions of fantasy, while enabling players to subvert established genre conventions. Her work addresses D&D’s treatment of race, gender, and sexual orientation; and looks at how players are using the game to address and repair the problematic legacies present within fantasy genre-culture. She graduated from Oriel College, University of Oxford, in 2015, and from the University of Glasgow with an MLitt in Fantasy in 2019. Her favourite fantasy authors include R.F Kuang, S.A. Chakraborty, and Silvia Moreno Garcia.


Grace Ann Thomas Worm (she/they) is a 3rd year PhD researcher on Female Fantasy in Tamora Pierce's fantasy world of Tortall at the University of Glasgow where she runs the Intersectional Fantastika reading group, is Vice Editor for the student journal Mapping the Impossible, and the Headquarters Officer for the Centre for Fantasy and the Fantastic and moderator of its Discord server. Grace is an English Literature International Bachelorette accredited secondary teacher who has taught across the U.S. This is her third GIFCon. Her teaching experience and research interests and publications cover fantasy, gender, race, class, ecology, YA, comics, video games, worldbuilding, neo-medievalism, poetry, theatre, and speculative fiction.  


The Rev. Tom Emanuel (he/him) was born and raised on sacred Lakota land in the Black Hills of South Dakota, USA and trained as a minister in the United Church of Christ at the Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley, CA (MDiv 2018). He is currently a PhD student in English Literature at the University of Glasgow, where his research brings together fan studies, sociology of religion, and Tolkien scholarship to explore how non-religious fans make spiritual meaning with J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings. He lives in Glasgow with his fantasy-nerd spouse and their two budding fantasy-nerd children.




Hannah Mimiec (they/ she) graduated in 2022 from the University of Glasgow with a joint honours degree in Scots Law and English Literature and is currently completing an MLitt in Fantasy Literature at the University of Glasgow. Their current research interests lie within the interaction between fantasy and economics, specifically political economy and feminist theories of work, as well as tabletop roleplaying games.