There is hardly any subject in contemporary literary, cultural, and media studies that is discussed and researched with as much controversy as “the fantastic”. Since theoretical debate on the subject was initiated in the second half of the 20th century, largely by Tzvetan Todorov and Roger Callois, research on the fantastic has become a globally relevant, interdisciplinary, and rapidly developing field of scholarship. The field’s significance is reflected in numerous scholarly journals, associations, organizations, research projects and institutions which have focused on the fantastic.
Yet, ever since the formation of the field, there has been active disagreement on how to define and delineate the subject of research, an issue which has become ever more important not least due to the current breadth and diversity of the research. The central question, “What is the fantastic?”, evokes a broad spectrum of answers. They range from outright dismissal of the subject as trivial, to narrow, minimalist definitions in the tradition of Todorov, and then to extremely broad and inclusive definitions that understand and conceptualize the fantastic as any kind of cultural product which juxtaposes an empirically verifiable world to another, fantastic one, and which thereby becomes formative for genres such as fairy tales, legends, science fiction, magical realism, and gothic. Both recent and longKterm developments in cultural and literary theory (such as transnational, transcultural and transmedial approaches) contribute to the field’s growing heterogeneity, revealing clearly how significant a place the fantastic has in contemporary culture. At the same time, this proliferation and diversification of “the fantastic” necessitates a survey and a taking stock of the contemporary landscape of research in the fantastic, of its approaches, its interests, its foci, and its findings.
The seventh annual conference of the Association for Research in the Fantastic aims to take on this task under the title The Fantastic Now: Research in the Fantastic in the 21st Century. It is our goal to include the greatest possible number of diverse voices and perspectives in this endeavor, in order to do justice to the multiplicity and interdisciplinarity of the field, and to discuss its societal and cultural implications.
We are honored that Professor Fred Botting, internationally renowned scholar in gothic fiction and cultural theory, has accepted our invitation as a keynote speaker. In addition to the inclusion of further voices of distinguished scholars, it is our explicit goal to encourage academic exchange among already established as well as younger scholars, authors, and artists in the field.
In addition to the traditional presentations and panel discussions, we plan to hold a roundtable discussion on the topic, “What can/should research in the fantastic strive for and accomplish in the 21st century?” If you are interested, you can also specifically apply to be a participant in this roundtable discussion by sending in a short abstract outlining your ideas/position.
The Gesellschaft für Fantastikforschung e.V. (GFF) [Association for Research in the Fantastic] is the first academic association in the German-speaking world committed to furthering research on the fantastic in art, literature and culture. It strives to broaden scholarly and cultural insight in this area. Therefore, the association publishes its membership journal "Zeitschrift für Fantastikforschung" twice a year as well as its own book series "Beiträge zur Fantastikforschung". In addition, an annual conference provides the opportunity for a membership assembly.
The GFF is currently based at the University of Hamburg and can be contacted:
Gesellschaft für Fantastikforschung e.V.
Universität Hamburg / IAA
Von Melle Park 6