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Past Events

Here you can find details of past events organized by the Centre or by our members, including links to recordings where available.


2022 Events


MLA International Symposium, 2–4 June 2022, Glasgow

Sessions organised by members of the Centre for Fantasy and the Fantastic at the MLA International Symposium, 2–4 June 2022, Glasgow

Fantastic Discourses of the Other: Hospitable Alter-natives? (Friday 3 June 2022)

Chair: Taylor Driggers (U of Glasgow)

Fantasy’s Hospitable Forms
Matthew Sangster U of Glasgow

“A Knight Must Set Things Right”: Fantasy Medievalism, Language, and Chivalry in Tamora Pierce’s Fantasy World of Tortall
Grace Worm U of Glasgow

“It Helps Soothe the Wounds God Has Inflicted Them With”: Fantasy, Queerness, and the Problem of Christian Hospitality
Taylor Driggers U of Glasgow

A Seat at the Table: The Evolving Parameters of Hospitality and Representation in Fantasy Role-Playing Games
Anna Milon U of Exeter

One of Us: Embracing and Becoming the Radically Other (Friday 3 June 2022)

Chairs: Ariel Leutheusser (Graduate Center, City U of New York), Mariana Rios Maldonado (U of Glasgow)

Fandom as Translation / Fandom and Translation: Making a Home in Storyworlds across Difference
Anne Kustritz U Utrecht

Living Deliciously: Welcoming and Becoming Radically Other in The Witch, Suspiria, and Midsommar
Ariel Leutheusser Graduate Center, City U of New York

Tolkien, Middle-earth, and the Other Mariana
Rios Maldonado U of Glasgow

“For a Dark Hour or Twain”: Darkness, Masks, and Identity in Immersive Theater
Kelly Suprenant Brooklyn C, City U of New York


26 May 2022: Changing the Voices of Science Fiction: The Progressive Fantastic in Germany

A public lecture by Dr Lars Schmeink, Leverhulme Professor of German Studies, University of Leeds, on “Changing the Voices of Science Fiction: The Progressive Fantastic in Germany”. The lecture took place in Room 253 (Seminar Room 1 – Yudowitz), at Wolfson Medical School and was also broadcast via Zoom webinar.

German science fiction has traditionally been a conservative genre, its main authors to this day mostly white, cis, hetero males of middle age. Until recently, diversity of genders, non-heteronormative sexuality, race or varied ethnic and cultural backgrounds, or representations of other marginalized groups (age, (dis)ability, etc.) has been sorely missing. But there has been a concerted effort by a younger, more diverse group of writers to change the approach to fantastic literature as a whole. Under the umbrella of the “progressive fantastic”, they have called for the inclusion of other identities in speculative fiction, the strengthening of own-voices, and a keen-eyed reexamination of traditions and structures in fantastic texts. In this talk, Dr Schmeink presented the key features of this “progressive fantastic” by looking at exemplary texts of recent German SF production.

For further details about this event see here.

The event was recorded and can be accessed via our YouTube channel here:

57th International Congress on Medieval Studies, 
May 9–14, 2022

Session sponsored by the Centre for Fantasy and the Fantastic at the 57th International Congress on Medieval Studies, Kalmazoo, May 9–14, 2022

Session 226: Tolkien and the Medieval Animal
(Thursday 12 May 2022)

Sponsor: Centre for Fantasy and the Fantastic, Univ. of Glasgow
Organizer: Kristine A. Swank, Univ. of Glasgow
Presider: Kristine A. Swank

Mammoth, Mûmak, and “The old fireside rhyme of Oliphaunt”: Tolkien’s Contributions to the Medieval Bestiary Tradition
Marc U. Zender, Tulane Univ.

From Classical to Medieval: A Reflection on Bats in Tolkien’s Works
Fiammetta Comelli, Univ. degli Studi di Milano

Of Foxes and Dancing Bears
John Rosegrant, New Orleans-Birmingham Psychoanalytic Center

Tolkien’s Dragons: Sources, Symbols, and Significance
Camilo G. Peralta, Fort Hays State Univ.

28-29 April 2022: GIFCon 2022: Fantasy Across Media (online)


Our 5th GIFCon (Glasgow International Fantasy Conversations, run annually) was held online for the second time in 2022. The theme was Fantasy Across Media. Fantasy and the fantastic have had long, rich histories outside of literature. GIFCon 2022 examined the myriad narrative possibilities afforded by fantasy across media. 

See here for full details, programme, and links to recorded keynotes.


1 April 2022: Fantasy and Puppetry: Animating the Fantastic

A very special online event to celebrate the art of puppets and puppeteers in bringing fantasy and the fantastic to life, on stage, on screen and on the page. It featured five of the most exciting and celebrated puppet-centred artists, writers, puppeteers and performers working in the world today: Brian and Wendy Froud, Howard Gayton, Mary Robinette Kowal and William Todd-Jones, all brought together by their friendship with World Fantasy Award-winning writer, editor and artist Terri Windling. Between them, these artists have been closely involved in some of the finest fantasy films, movies, TV series and stage performances of the last forty years: The Dark CrystalLabyrinth, the Muppet movies, Sesame Street, The Empire Strikes BackDark Crystal – The Age of ResistanceHis Dark MaterialsJohn Carter of MarsThe Neverending StoryWho Framed Roger Rabbit – the list is seemingly endless. During the event, we discovered how their skills as designers, craftspeople and puppeteers have interacted with their skills as storytellers to animate lifeless matter and awake the world’s imagination!

For further details on each of our special guests, as well as the day's programme, see here:

All four sessions were recorded and can be accessed on our YouTube channel via the links below: 

Fantasy and Puppetry (Film): Brian and Wendy Froud, interviewed by Terri Windling:
Bringing Fantasy Creatures to Life (Film, TV, Stage): William Todd-Jones, interviewed by Terri Windling:
Bringing Fantasy Creatures to Life (Theatre): Howard Gayton:
Panel on Puppets and Puppetry in Fantasy Narratives (Novels, Film, TV): Terri Windling, Mary Robinette Kowal, Marita Arvaniti, Rob Maslen: 


23 February 2022: Queering Faith in Fantasy Literature: A Book Launch and Discussion with Taylor Driggers

An event to launch Dr Taylor Driggers' book Queering Faith in Fantasy Literature: Fantastic Incarnations and the Deconstruction of Theology, the first book in Bloomsbury’s new Perspectives on Fantasy series.

Series editors Prof. Brian AtteberyDr Dimitra Fimi, and Dr Matthew Sangster began the evening by introducing the new series and its aims. Dr Driggers then introduced his book, which explores works by C.S. Lewis, Ursula K. Le Guin, and Angela Carter, among others, to show how fantasy literature can help women and LGBTQ+ people marginalized by Christianity reclaim and re-envision their theological traditions. He was then be joined by Anglia Ruskin University postgraduate researcher Meg MacDonald for a conversation about fantasy’s affordances for theology, and how their respective research projects respond to existing scholarship in fantasy, theology, and religious studies.

Find out more about this event here.

The event was recorded and can be accessed via our YouTube channel here:

11 February 2022: Medical Humanities and the Fantastic Online Symposium: Neurodiversity and Disability

The second Medical Humanities and the Fantastic Symposium, funded by the University of Glasgow’s Centre for Medical Humanities’ Early Career Foundation Award, and co-hosted by the Centre for Fantasy and the Fantastic, was held online on Friday 11 February 2022. The symposium aimed to showcase the potentials the fantastic has to offer as valuable gateway and perspective for discussing medical encounters, practices and lived experiences.

The theme was “Neurodiversity and Disability” included keynotes from Dr Ria Cheyne and Dr Louise Creechan.

  • You can find the Symposium Call for Papers here

The keynotes were recorded and can be accessed via our YouTube channel below: 


2021 Events


11 December 2021: Dissenting Beliefs: Heresy and Heterodoxy in Fantasy 

An online conference, supported by the Centre for Fantasy and the Fantastic, aiming to explore the wide ranging affordances of heterodoxy and heresy in fantasy texts across a wide range of faiths. 

Keynote: Professor Alana M. Vincent

Organising Committee: Dr Taylor DriggersLucinda Holdsworth, Meg MacDonald, Luise Rössel 

Conference page here.

The Call for Papers can be found here.

The keynote by Professor Alana M. Vincent was recorded and can be accessed via our YouTube channel here:


24 November 2021: The Infernal Riddle of Historical Fantasy

An event with James Treadwell (author of the Advent trilogy), L. J. MacWhirter (author of Black Snow Falling), Fraser Dallachy (Lecturer in historical linguistics), and Rob Maslen (Co-director of the Centre for Fantasy and the Fantastic at Glasgow).

On Wednesday 24 November, 6 pm GMT we celebrated the launch of James Treadwell’s most recent novel, The Infernal Riddle of Thomas Peach (Hodder and Stoughton, 2021), with a discussion of fantasy’s obsession with history. Each of our panelists shared this obsession. Treadwell’s novel is set in the late eighteenth century, McWhirter’s in the time of the Tudors, while Dallachy and his colleagues have advised historical novelists by drawing on the vast resources of the Historical Thesaurus of English. Together they considered some of the challenges faced by fantasists who choose to set their stories in the past.

Find out more about this event here.

The event was recorded and can be accessed via our YouTube channel here:


17 November 2021: Imagining Ecological Pasts and Futures: Folklore, Fantasy, and Speculative Fiction in the Climate Crisis

Humans have always written tales of magic and wonder that relate the human to the non-human world, whether that ‘magic’ is folkloristic belief or the modern quasi-scientific speculations and re-imaginings of Science Fiction and Fantasy. But why should this matter in an age of catastrophic climate change?

In this event, colleagues from the Centre of Fantasy and the Fantastic foregrounded via short presentations how both traditional folkloric stories as well as past and current Fantasy texts, whether intended for children or adults, usefully serve to imagine our place in the cultural/natural world, including interactions with non-human others. Tales of connection and disconnection—or of utopia and dystopia—are examples of serious play in which solutions to dilemmas, especially the climate crisis, can be explored.  In short, narratives of the Fantastic perennially provide not only welcome solace and escape, but also serve to spark new ways of thinking: fantasy is good to think with.

The evening ended with a Creative Writing Workshop led by two experienced workshop leaders, allowing participants to experiment with their own ideas, inspired by the presentations in the first part.

This event was part of the Being Human Festival and was supported by the Dear Green Bothy series.

Find out more about the programme and contributors here

The event was recorded and can be accessed via our YouTube channel here:


18 October 2021: Kim Stanley Robinson: The Ministry for the Future

We were delighted to host legendary SF author Kim Stanley Robinson as part of the book tour for his novel The Ministry for the Future. Kim Stanley Robinson is a New York Times bestseller and winner of the Hugo, Nebula and Locus awards. He is the author of more than twenty books, including the bestselling Mars trilogy, 2312, Aurora and New York 2140. In 2008, he was named a 'Hero of the Environment' by Time, and he works with the Sierra Nevada research institute. He lives in Davis, California.

This event, part of The Dear Green Bothy series, was chaired by Dr Anna McFarlane.

The event was recorded and can be accessed via our YouTube channel here:


16 September 2021: Exploring Cyberpunk Culture

An event to celebrate Dr Anna McFarlane's new book Cyberpunk Culture and Psychology: Seeing Through the Mirrorshades. The book explores the work of William Gibson and the influence of cyberpunk science fiction. Anna introduced her book, including her concept of gestalt literary criticism. She was joined by academic and broadcaster Dr Sarah Dillon for a conversation about the book and the journey from PhD thesis to monograph, and by Dr Graham J. Murphy (Seneca College) and Dr Lars Schmeink (Europa Universität Flensburg), her co-editors on The Routledge Companion to Cyberpunk Culture (2020), to talk about how the book fits in to existing cyberpunk research, and the future of cyberpunk scholarship. 

For further details see here:

The event was recorded and can be accessed via our YouTube channel here:


17 June 2021: From Spare Oom to War Drobe: A Journey to Narnia with Katherine Langrish

A journey to Narnia with celebrated children’s and young adult fantasy author Katherine Langrish, author of From Spare Oom to War Drobe: Travels in Narnia with my Nine-Year-Old Self. In this book, Katherine has revisited her childhood reading of C.S. Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia series to explore what enchanted her in the books as a young reader, and ask whether they still have the power to do so. Centre for Fantasy and the Fantastic co-directors Dr Robert Maslen and Dr Dimitra Fimi interviewed Katherine about the book and all things Narnia, before giving attendees the opportunity to participate in a Q&A with Katherine.

For further details see:

A report from the event can be accessed here:

The event was recorded and can be accessed via our YouTube channel here:


GIFCon (Glasgow International Fantasy Conversations)

"Beyond the Anglocentric Fantastic" - 28-30 April 2021

See here for full details, programme, and links to recorded keynotes.


56th International Congress on Medieval Studies, 10-15 May 2021

Session 94: Christopher Tolkien, Medievalist (1924–2020): A Roundtable
(Tuesday 11 May 2021)

Sponsor: Centre for Fantasy and the Fantastic, Univ. of Glasgow
Organizer: Kristine A. Swank, University of Glasgow
Presider: Dr Dimitra Fimi, University of Glasgow

A roundtable discussion with Miriam Mayburd (University of Iceland), Eileen M. Moore (Cleveland State University), Erik D. Mueller-Harder (Independent Scholar), and Perry Neil Harrison (Fort Hays State University)

Session 344: Medieval World-Building: Tolkien, His Precursors and Legacies
(Friday 14 May 2021)

Sponsor: Centre for Fantasy and the Fantastic, University of Glasgow
Organizer: Kristine A. Swank, University of Glasgow
Presider: Kristine A. Swank

"Valinor in America: Faerian Drama and the Disenchantment of Middle-earth", John D. Rateliff, Independent Scholar

"Infinity War of the Ring: Parallels between the Conflict within Sauron and Thanos", Jeremy Byrum, Independent Scholar

"Tolkien, Robin Hood, and the Matter of the Greenwood", Perry Neil Harrison, Fort Hays State University

"Tolkien’s Golden Trees and Silver Leaves: Do Writers Build the Same World for Every Reader?", Luke Shelton, University of Glasgow


25 March 2021: Tolkien Reading Day 2021

Tolkien Reading Day is held on the 25th of March each year. The date of the 25th of March was chosen as the date on which the Ring was destroyed, completing Frodo’s quest and vanquishing Sauron. It has been organised by the Tolkien Society since 2003 to encourage fans to celebrate and promote the life and works of J.R.R. Tolkien by reading favourite passages.

For 2021, the Centre for Fantasy and the Fantastic partnered with the Tolkien Society to celebrate Tolkien Reading Day 2021, with a theme of "Hope and Courage". We co-hosted three live Zoom events throughout the day where fans shared what Tolkien means to them. We also shared readings, prompts, and reactions to Tolkien's work throughout the day, and during the weeks and days leading up to 25th March (check hashtag #TolkienReadingDay2021).

To find out more about the Tolkien Reading Day 2021 see here:

For our Guest Speakers for Tolkien Reading Day 2021 see here:


16 March 2021: Creative Conversations: Book Launch for Oliver Langmead’s Birds of Paradise

An event to celebrate the launch of Oliver K. Langmead's novel Birds of Paradise (Titan Books, 2001). Oliver K. Langmead lives and writes in Glasgow. His long-form poem, Dark Star, featured in the Guardian’s Best Books of 2015, and his new book, Birds of Paradise, is arriving March 2021. Oliver is currently a doctoral candidate at the University of Glasgow, where he is researching terraforming and ecological philosophy, and in late 2018 he was the writer in residence at the European Space Agency’s Astronaut Centre in Cologne. This even wasa collaboration between Creative Conversations, programmed by the University of Glasgow Creative Writing Programme and funded by the Ferguson Bequest, and the Centre for Fantasy and the Fantastic. 

The event was recorded and can be accessed via our YouTube channel here:


24 February 2021: The Immanent Grove: Memorialising the achievements of the University of Glasgow’s Fantasy graduates

An event to celebrate the brilliance of our students and to explore the entanglements between fantasy, forests, and trees. 

Trees permeate Fantasy literature and, in the twenty-first century, forests also hold the key to the future. Our PhD student Lucy Holdsworth came up with the idea of memorialising the achievements of the University of Glasgow's Fantasy graduates with the gift of trees, via the Trees for Life charity. Thanks to a generous donor, we have now started planting a tree in the Highlands for each of our Fantasy graduates, forming The Immanent Grove (inspired by Ursula Le Guin's eponymous grove on the island of Roke in Earthsea). The event featured Lucy Holdworh, Dr Rob Maslen, and Dr Matthew Sangster, who shared readings on trees and forests from favourite fantasy texts and discussed their affordances in terms of ecological consciouenss, literacy, and activism.

To find out more about the Immanent Grove see here:

To see the Immanent Grove trees and graduate messages see here:

The event was recorded and can be accessed via our YouTube channel here:


28 January 2021: D&D and Fantasy Fiction: Giants in the Oerth

A quest to uncover the literary history behind Dungeons & Dragons co-hosted by the Centre for Fantasy and the Fantastic and the Games and Gaming Lab at the University of Glasgow. How has fantasy literature influenced and inspired the tabletop roleplaying game Dungeons & Dragons? How has the relationship between the two fantasy media developed over time? Tolkien scholar and RPG designer/editor John D. Rateliff discussed the early roots of Dungeons & Dragons in the works of twentieth-century fantasy authors, including J.R.R. Tolkien and Robert E. Howard. His talk was followed by a Q&A chaired by Emma French. The event also included a short introduction to contemporary Dungeons & Dragons by Grace A. Worm – with a brief, but fun, dip into how to play!

For further details see:

John D. Rateliff's talk can be read here:

A report from the event can be accessed here:

The event was recorded and can be accessed via our YouTube channel here:

2020 Events

16 December: Christmas Hauntings: Ghost Stories for Midwinter

An evening of Christmas chills and winter wonder, featuring an introduction to the tradition of the Christmas ghost story by Dr Derek Johnston of Queens University Belfast, and a panel with Dr Tiffany Angus (Anglia Ruskin University), Professor Christine Ferguson (University of Stirling) and Dr Derek Johnson (QUB). The event included a reading of Jeanette Winterson’s chilling tale ‘Dark Christmas’, performed by Meg MacDonald, with the author’s kind permission.

For further details see:

The event was recorded and can be accessed via our YouTube channel here:


19 November: Celebrating the Centenary of 'A Voyage to Arcturus'


A celebration of 100 years since the publication of A Voyage to Arcturus, a speculative fiction novel by Scottish author David Lindsay. The event (part of the Being Human Festival) presented a conversation with Lindsay specialist Douglas A. Anderson, UofG scholar Professor Robert Davis, and science fiction author Nina Allan, discussing the novel and its major influence on key fantasy authors of our time, including C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien and Philip Pullman.

For further details see:

A report from the event can be accessed here:

The event was recorded and can be accessed via our YouTube channel here:


28 October: Halloween: Folklore Traditions and Global Reach


A thoroughly spooky lecture on the folklore and traditions of Halloween and associated festivals, such as Día de los Muertos, with world-renowned folklorist, author, and broadcaster Dr Juliette Wood (Cardiff University), followed by Q&A.

See here for further details:

The event was recorded and can be accessed via our YouTube channel here:


16 September 2020: Launching the Centre for Fantasy and the Fantastic


An online event to launch the Centre for Fantasy and the Fantastic at the University of Glasgow with a lecture by acclaimed fantasy author Ellen Kushner, and a discussion panel on fantasy with Terri Windling, Professor Brian Attebery, and Dr Robert Maslen.

See here for further details:

A report from the event can be accessed here:

The event was recorded and can be accessed via our YouTube channel here:




Associated Events


Earlier Events

  • GIFCon 2019, Keynote Speakers: Brian Attebery (Idaho State University/Leverhulme Visiting Professor in Fantasy, University of Glasogow), Kirsty Logan, Mel Gibson (Northumbria University)
  • ‘Reimagining Fantasy’: a Public Conversation in Glasgow University Chapel with Ellen Kushner, Delia Sherman and Terri Windling, May 2018.
  • ‘Scotland in the Transition: renewable Energy in Scotland’, in the Charles Wilson Theatre, with Patrick Harvie MSP, August 2018.
  • ‘Petrocultures 2018: Transition’, a 4-day international conference (over 230 delegates from 15 countries) for the Energy Humanities, at Glasgow University.
  • GIFCon 2018, Keynote Speakers: Dimitra Fimi (Cardiff Met University), Alice Jenkins (University of Glasgow), Will Slocombe (University of Liverpool), Arianne ‘Tex’ Thompson, April 2018.
  • ‘Night at the Museum: Fantasy Scotland’, Hunterian Museum, Glasgow, November 2017.
  • GIFCon 2017, Keynote Speakers: Julie Bertagna, Stefan Ekman, Phil Harris (Senior Narrative Designer at Videogame company Bigpoint), March 2017.
  • Public Workshop with Ellen Kushner and Delia Sherman, November 2016.
  • Mini-Conference: ‘Other Worlds and Story Worlds: New Perspectives on Fiction for Adults and Children’ (co-organised with Evelyn Arizpe and Maureen Farrell, School of Education), Keynote: Julie Bertagna, June 2016.
  • Adam Roberts, ‘Science Fiction’s Greatest Question: Are We Alone in the Universe?’, Aye Write! Book Festival, Mitchell Library, Glasgow, March 2016.
  • ‘From Page to Opera Stage: The Devil Inside. Reimagining Robert Louis Stevenson’s “The Bottle Imp” as a contemporary opera’, January 2016, with Stuart MacRae, Alex Rijdeek and Louise Welsh.
  • Visiting Speakers have included the authors Hal Duncan, Kij Johnson, Kirsty Logan, Mark Millar, Claire North/Cat Webb, Christopher Priest, Arianne ‘Tex’ Thompson and Neil Williamson; the editors Jon Oliver (Commissioning Editor, Rebellion Publishing) and Ben Smith (Head of Books, Rebellion Publishing); and the scholars Andrew M. Butler (Canterbury Christ Church University), Edward James (Anglia Ruskin University) and Anna Vaninskaya (University of Edinburgh)