Image from Dimitra Fimi

GIFCon 2021

Theme and CFP

Beyond the Anglocentric Fantastic

28-30 April 2021


‘Western narratives’ hurt us at the end and have damaged perspectives regarding non-Western narratives. The dominance of Western narratives has silenced non-Western voices, reducing us to nothing else but something out of a travel guide.’

Joyce Chng


… in a general sense, we live in the world of cultural dominance of Anglophone cultures, English is the international language, and many people HAVE to speak it, and write in it … Failure to acknowledge the cultural hegemony of the English language and WHY many non-Anglophone writers might choose to write in English is disingenuous.

Ekaterina Sedia


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, this is in order to facilitate communication and discussion amongst our international attendees. See our Suggested Topics list for further inspiration.

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 by 04 January 2021 at midnight GMT.

If you have any questions regarding our event or our CfP, please contact us at We look forward to your submissions!



For speakers' bios and paper abstracts, see here.


The GIFCon 2021 Programme is available here.

Keynote Speakers

Key Speaker Gif Con 2021

Wang Yao is Associate Professor of Chinese Literature at Xi’an Jiaotong University, and a visiting scholar at University of California, Riverside from May 2019 to May 2020. Her academic collection on contemporary Chinese science fiction Coordinates of the Future: Discussions on Chinese Science Fiction in the Age of Globalization was published in 2019. She has been publishing speculative fiction since college with the pen name Xia Jia. Seven of her stories have won the Galaxy Award, China's most prestigious science fiction award.

So far she has published a fantasy novel Odyssey of China Fantasy: On the Road (2010), as well as three science fiction collections The Demon Enslaving Flask (2012), A Time Beyond Your Reach (2017) and Xi’an City Is Falling Down (2018). Recently she has been working on a science fiction fix-up, entitled Chinese Encyclopedia. In English translation, she has been published in Clarkesworld and other venues. Her first flash story written in English, “Let’s Have a Talk,” was published in Nature in 2015. Her first English collection A Summer Beyond Your Reach: Stories was published in 2020. She is also engaged in other science fiction related works, including academic research, translation, screenwriting, editing and creative writing teaching.

 王瑶,北京大学中文系博士,西安交通大学中文系系主任、副教授,加州大学河滨分校访问学者(2019.5-2020.5),从事当代中国科幻研究。著有《未来的坐标:全球化时代的中国科幻论集》(2019)。从2004年开始以笔名“夏笳”发表科幻与奇幻小说,作品七次获“科幻世界银河奖”,四次入围“全球华语科幻星云奖”。已出版长篇奇幻小说《九州·逆旅》(2010)、科幻作品集《关妖精的瓶子》(2012)、《你无法抵达的时间》(2017)、《倾城一笑》(2018)。目前正在从事系列科幻短篇《中国百科全书》的创作。作品被翻译为英、日、韩、法、俄、德、藏、波兰、意大利等多种语言。用英文创作的超短篇小说“Let’s Have a Talk”发表于英国《自然》杂志科幻短篇专栏。英文短篇作品集A Summer Beyond Your Reach: Stories于2020年出版。除学术研究和文学创作外,亦致力于科幻小说翻译、影视剧策划和科幻写作教学。

Xia Jia's keynote is co-sponsored with the Confucius Institute at the University of Glasgow.

Keynote Title: Which Future Do You Believe In?


Visions of the future in each period of history are involved with the changing structure of feelings and experiences of media. SF, as "megatext", refers to its own intertextuality in order to be functional at all times. The audience is interpellated (in the Althusserian sense) to answer the question: "Do you believe in (what WE used to believe in)", so that "you" imaginatively identifies with "WE" (and sometimes fails to do so). This keynote lecture examines three controversial texts using this approach: the Disney movie Tomorrowland (2015), "The Gernsback Continuum" by William Gibson (1981), and "Fields of Gold" by Liu Cixin (2018). This discussion will help us better understand the cultural political implications in contemporary Chinese science fiction.

You can watch a video recording of Xia Jia's keynote here:



Sourit Bhattacharya is Lecturer in Postcolonial Studies (English Literature) at the University of Glasgow. His research interests include colonial and postcolonial literatures; environmental humanities; realism and fantasy; translation studies; and materialist criticism. His works have appeared in such journals and edited volumes as Ariel, Textual Practice, Irish University ReviewMagical Realism and Literature (Cambridge UP), Postcolonial Urban Outcasts (Routledge), and others. His first monograph, Postcolonial Modernity and the Indian Novel: On Catastrophic Realism was published by Palgrave in June 2020. He published a co-edited volume on the magical realist/fabulist writer from Bengal, Nabarun Bhattacharya (Bloomsbury) in 2020. Sourit is a co-founding editor of Sanglap: Journal of Literary and Cultural Inquiry

Keynote title: Radical Imaginings: Eco-feminist and Subaltern Utopias in India’s Colonial and Postcolonial Fantasy


From the fables of Panchatantra to the epics of The Ramayana and The Mahabharata, fantasy has a long and rich narrative tradition in India. ‘Kalpana’ or imagination in Sanskrit, fantasy also means bringing things to a righteous conclusion (Bangiyo Shobdokosh, 1966: 567). This egalitarian and utopic foundation of the genre was revived in colonial India. Coterminous with the ‘Swadeshi’ or self-rule movement, the political project of reconstructing indigenous cultural material to mobilise an anticolonial and anti-imperialist agenda can be noted in Rabindranath Tagore’s introduction to Dakshinaranjan Mitra Majumder’s Thakurmar Jhuli (Grandmother’s Bag of Tales, 1907). A more radical project of dismantling capitalism and patriarchy to imagine an alternative, ecologically sustainable, and feminist world is found in Rokeya Sakhawat Hossain’s Sultana’s Dream (1905). Later in Nabarun Bhattacharya’s novel, Kangal Malshat (Warcry of the Beggars, 2003), set in postcolonial, Communist and consumerist Kolkata, fantastic elements empower the city’s subaltern population to wage a class war against its ruling elite. In this talk, I will closely read these examples of ‘urban fantasy’ to demonstrate the radical and utopic tendencies in modern Indian fantasy and how the genre continues to raise crucial epistemological and aesthetic questions of knowledge production, human rights, normativity, and literary style in the postcolonial world.

You can watch a video recording of Sourit Bhattacharya's keynote here:




Amal El-Mohtar is an award-winning writer of fiction, poetry, and criticism. She is the science fiction and fantasy columnist for the New York Times Book Review and the co-author, with Max Gladstone, of This Is How You Lose the Time War, a novella which has received several honours including the Hugo, Nebula, BSFA, and Locus Awards. She teaches creative writing at the University of Ottawa. 

You can watch a video recording of Amal El-Mohtar's Q&A keynote here:



The GIFCon 2021 Workshops can be viewed here.

GIFCon 2021 Committee

Chairs: Dr Dimitra FimiDr Robert Maslen, and Dr Taylor Driggers

Programming officer: Marita Arvaniti

Communications officer: Katarina O’Dette

Publicity officer: Monica Vazquez

Social Media officer: Emma French

Administration officer: Grace Worm

Diversity and Accessibility officerMariana Rios Maldonado

Assistant Managing officer: Elena Pasquini

Fantasy MLitt Liaison officer: Halle Campise


GIFCon would not exist without its volunteers, who make these incredible conversations around fantasy and the fantastic possible. Volunteers do everything, from running panels to tweeting, furthering discussions, as well as upholding the values and goals of our symposium. A special thank you from everyone on the GIFCon Committee, every Speaker, and every Attendee at GIFCon this year. In no particular order, our 2021 fantastic GIFCon 2021 volunteers are: 

GIFCon Committee Bios


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. Originally from Greece, she lived and worked in Wales for over 15 years before joining the University of Glasgow in 2018. 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 has also published on Greek fairy-tale writer Penelope Delta.



Dr Rob Maslen (he/him) is Senior Lecturer in English Literature and co-Director of the Centre for Fantasy and the Fantastic at the University of Glasgow. He began his career as an early modernist, publishing two monographs on the early English novel and Shakespeare's comedies and editing Sir Philip Sidney's Apology for Poetry. In 2015 he founded the MLitt in Fantasy at Glasgow, since when he has written mostly on fantasy, including essays and talks on anime and Franco-Belgian comics. His editions of the poetry of Mervyn Peake are published by Carcanet, and he blogs at The City of Lost Books (



Dr Taylor Driggers (he/him) is a PhD graduate from the University of Glasgow, and has taught fantasy literature in various capacities at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels. His first book, Faith and Fantasy: Queering Theology in Fantastic Texts, is forthcoming from Bloomsbury, and focuses on fantasy’s ability to critically re-imagine Christian theology and religious practices from queer and feminist standpoints. Taylor’s research includes the works of J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, Ursula K. Le Guin, Angela Carter, and Samuel R. Delany, among others, and has appeared in The New Americanist and The Journal of Inklings Studies.



Marita Arvaniti (she/her) is a 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. Marita is a member of the University of Glasgow’s Centre for Fantasy and the Fantastic, and the Programming officer for Glasgow International Fantasy Conversations (GIFCon). She can be reached at or on twitter at @excaliburedpan.





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. Originally from the United States, she received a BFA in screenwriting from the University of Southern California before moving to Scotland to obtain 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 (forthcoming).




Monica Vazquez (she/her) is a second-year PhD researcher studying the technology of immersion in Fantasy Literature and VR, and CMO of the Centre for Fantasy and the Fantastic at the University of Glasgow. Originally from Spain, where she studied Journalism and developed most of her professional career as a journalist as well as a multiple award-winning musician, she moved to Scotland to continue her studies with a Fantasy MLitt at the University of Glasgow while publishing her first novel, "El Arte de Romperlo Todo", with Penguin Random House. 


Pic provided by Emma French


Emma French (she/her) is a 1st 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 2nd 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 an editor for the student journal Mapping the Impossible, and a member of 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. and has taught Rhetoric courses for the University of Texas at Austin. Her teaching experience and research interests cover gender, race, class, ecology, and new medievalism in contemporary American Young Adult Fantasy and Science Fiction Literature. 



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.


Pic Elena's own

Elena Pasquini (They/Them) is an Italian scholar in Comparative Literature. They studied English and Japanese at the University of Florence. They moved to Scotland for 8 years studying at the University of Aberdeen where they expanded the passion of literature with philosophy and visual art and later obtained their Master at the University of Glasgow. The love for words and visual arts drove them to focus their studies in graphic novels, fumetti, manga (マンガ/漫画) and manhwa (만화). In particular in the use of monsters in various cultures, the act of eating and what it means to be human.  




Halle Campise (she/her) is a current postgraduate student enrolled in the University of Glasgow’s MLitt: English Literature, Fantasy program. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature and a Master of Science in Business from Texas A&M University. Her research interests include transmedia narrative adaptations and worldbuilding, as well as the ways in which international folklore and mythologies influence literary traditions. Her research interests are shaped by experiences she has had as a bisexual woman and as an international student.


Submission Guidelines

Submission Guidelines 

  • Please submit a 300-word (maximum) abstract including title and references, if any 
  • Underneath the abstract, please add a 100-word maximum biographical note written in 3rd person and indicating your preferred pronouns
  • Please use UK spelling and grammar conventions 
  • Please use Times New Roman or Calibri font and make sure your document is double-spaced 
  • Please save your submission as a .doc or .docx (not PDF) 
  • Please take time to read GIFCon’s Code of Conduct to ensure your submission complies with our symposium’s COC 
  • Please cc any co-authors on your email submission 
  • Email your submission to with "GIFCon 2021 Submission - Your Name" as the title of the email 
  • Submit by 4th January 2021, midnight GMT


Submissions Advice 

The GIFCon committee especially welcomes proposals from postgraduate students and early career researchers. Whether this is your first time submitting an abstract to us or not, we wanted to put together this guide based off the assessment criteria we use to accept submissions. Please note that this guide is intended for our event and should not be considered as universal adviceas each conference/symposium establishes its own rules and guidelines. 

Here are three key things to consider: 

1) Paper’s Fit to the Theme 

2) A Clear and Concise Argument 

3) Paper’s Fit to the Timeslot 


1. Paper’s Fit to the Theme  

How does your paper fit in with the conference theme? Clearly and concisely explain in one or two sentences how your paper suits GIFCon’s theme. You can also pop a key word from the CFP in your title if that is suitable for your abstract. You don’t have to shy away from explicitly stating the connection to theme, context, or relevance.  

2. A Clear, Concise Argument 

Outline in your abstract your paper’s argument: you can include where it sits in the field, why you are exploring this aspect of your topic, which texts you are looking at, and what you hope to illuminate by doing so. Especially if your paper covers a niche within your subject, your argument will help the committee to grasp what you are intending to do in your paper and how to best place it in our programme. If the abstract requires technical terms specific to your area or subjectclearly define them.   

3. Paper’s Fit to the Timeslot 

We are looking for papers that are presentable within a 20-minute timeslot. One rule of thumb is to imagine 20 minutes as roughly 2000 spoken wordKeep in mind that you want a topic that is the right balance of broad and specific enough that allows you to present a well-argued paper within the timeframe. You can also practice reading your abstract, and eventual paper, out loud to ensure it fits within the given time and flows well.

Please note: 

  • Make sure your abstract is 300 words long. This word count includes title and references, if any. 
  • Your submission should have a title that works for the abstract, eventual paper, and presentation.  
  • Take the time to proofread your abstract for any grammar and spelling errors. At GIFCon we use UK spelling and grammar conventions. 
  • Add at the bottom of your abstract document a 100-word maximum biographical note written in the 3rd person and indicating your preferred pronouns. This generally includes education, current research or interests, and anything else you would want the audience to know about you.   
  • Make sure to add co-authors into the email and bionote 
  • The actual body of the submission email can simply be an introduction, note of your attached submission, and a goodbye.  
  • If your submission is successful, it is possible to present anonymously during the event. Email us to find out more.  

We would also like to ask you to review our Code of Conduct prior to your submission in order to make sure your paper complies with our symposium’s COC. 

Once you are done, please attach the document to your submission email, making sure to follow all required submission guidelines from the section above.  

Finally, if you have any questions about submitting your abstract to an event, please get in touch with the event organisersWe can also help where possible with enquires if you email us at in advance of the submission deadline.  

We look forward to your submission!