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Models of World and Space in the Fantastic


Fourth annual conference of the Gesellschaft für Fantastikforschung e.V. [Association for


Research in the Fantastic]


at the
Justus-Liebig-Universität Gießen
26th–29th of September, 2013


New: Download the Conference Flyer.


Writing Worlds and Writing Worlds – one of the main characteristics of the Fantastic is its ability to create multiple possible worlds in its divers medial expressions such as literature, film, games or the visual arts. In these worlds, the representation of space serves as much as genre indicator as does the set of characters. The fourth annual conference of the Gesellschaft für Fantastikforschung e.V. [Association for Research in the Fantastic] will be focused on world/space constructions and their relevance for the Fantastic. This implicates dealing with the whole spectrum of theory and analysis of fantastic world models and the relation and semantics of fantastic spaces.


Beside genre definitions like Tzvetan Todorov’s ‘uncertainty’ or Uwe Durst’s ‘infraction of natural laws’, it seems that fantastic world constructions are likewise suitable to categorize the steadily growing and developing amount of fantastic texts: Medieval worlds, alien planets with their own natural laws or fantastic spaces hidden underneath, behind or within the present show in how many ways the Fantastic may conceptualize ‘space’ and ‘world’ and how difficult it is to make global statements about ‘the Fantastic’ as such. In imitation of Nietzsche, one might ask in view of the ‘Possible-Worlds Theory’, ‘So many worlds, and how many new ones are still possible!’


Apart from the representations of fictional worlds as a potential basis for genre definitions, there will be room to discuss the cultural implications of space which, in the Fantastic, is often linked to the topos of the hero’s journey. Beside Niels Werber’s geopolitical approach and Yuri Lotman’s considerations of the border as topological cultural model, the Fantastic supplies literary research with a testing ground for terms like globalization, transnationality, or multiculturalism.


In addition, some fantastic world constructions are characterized by their specific references to reality and have a considerable potential for social criticism. Especially by using the semantics of world and space, Utopias and Dystopias may initiate or contribute to discussions about current issues. Even gender studies cannot ignore the impact of gendered spaces in the Fantastic for the construction of gender roles. Another aspect of the conference might be the changing relationship between the underworld and the world above, when the dead or the undead attend ordinary high schools, work in ordinary jobs and are to be met at the local pub in their spare time. Thus, the question remains open whether death still has or even needs a space beyond a ‘final frontier’ that is reserved especially for this taboo topic.


The approaches proposed here are only a fraction of the questions that may be discussed at the conference, or even starting points for new theories – again imitating Nietzsche, ‘And how many new questions are still possible!”


Organization of the conference:
Annette Simonis, Laura Muth, Pascal Klenke, Klaudia Seibel, in cooperation with the Section 10 – Phantastische Welten of the Gießener Graduiertenzentrum Kulturwissenschaften and the Phantastische Bibliothek Wetzlar.

Pascal Klenke, Laura Muth, Klaudia Seibel
Speakers of Sektion 10 – Phantastische Welten
Gießener Graduiertenzentrum Kulturwissenschaften
Alter Steinbacher Weg 38
D-35394 Gießen

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