Fantastic Material(s): Things and the Workings of the Non-Real

Country: Poland

City: Sosnowiec

Abstr. due: 31.03.2016

Dates: 07.07.16 — 08.07.16

Area Of Sciences: Technical sciences;

Organizing comittee e-mail:

Organizers: Institute of English Cultures and Literatures



The conference aims to address the use of materiality by the fantastic in its aesthetic, narrative and world building strategies. In the broadest sense then, the conference wishes to investigate the contribution of things to the achievement of the non-real and the production of its estranging appeal, which, at the same time, frequently bears responsibility for its immersive qualities.

Positioned as the other of realistic expression with its normative sanction, the fantastic strives to generate worlds and stories which would be imaginatively persuasive, be it either in the creation of ruptures and discontinuities or in the establishment of representative coherence and internal logic. Through the use of defamiliarization and (en)wonderment as well as through the evocation of fear or longing, the non-real engages with the real in both dialogic and subversive manners, often achieving a powerful critique of the domestic, social, political and geographical environments. Or, conversely, despite its representational otherness, the fantastic may reinforce the ideological conditions of those environments, embracing their values and bestowing them with mythologizing meaningfulness.

The purpose of the conference, therefore, is to explore the role of things in fantastic representations on the level of artistic expression as well as on the level of its affective and ideological effects. We invite scholars working on the various modes and theories of the non-real in culture (literature, art, film, TV, video games), and also in transmedial environments, to engage in readings of the entanglement of the material and the fantastic through, for example, such perspectives as the poetics of matter, material culture studies, the material engagement theory, affect theory, or object-oriented ontology.

Topics may address, but are not limited to:

    objects and the question of genres and sub-genres (fairy tales, fantasy, science-fiction, new weird, cyberpunk, steampunk, etc.);
    the role of objects and the structure of the fantastic narratives, transfictionality and transmedial storytelling;
    fantastic materials and the question of seriality, adaptation and rebooting;
    the system of things and the mechanisms of world-building and world-reception;
    things and immersion;
    affective engagement (wonder, fear, longing, belief etc.) and            the employment of the material;
    things and the self-referentiallity of the fantastic;
    uniqueness and rarity in the context of, on the one hand, fantastic exceptionality, on the other, fantastic formulas;
    fantastic aesthetics and the material (for instance, the grotesque,        the uncanny, the sublime, the weird, the monstrous etc.);
    material culture and the strategies of subversion, estrangement, rupture;
    the fantastic political and objects (for instance, in utopias and dystopias);
    material culture and social distinction in fantastic worlds
    the fantastic “recovery” of objects (after J.R.R. Tolkien);
    the mutiny of objects in fantastic settings: reinventions of                      the everyday;
    the fantastic and the question of work and cultural production (fantastic labour/ fantastic capital)
    the economy of the fantastic (surplus/ excess, deficiency/lack)
    the fantastic and the semiotic currency of objects
    objects and the rhetorics (Farah Mendlesohn) of the non-real,
    temporal and spatial trajectories (biographies) of objects/ artifacts      in fantastic contexts;
    objects and the question of agency and effect in fantastic settings (magic, technology, laws of non-real nature);
    the body as subject vs. the body as object;
    the fetish and the fantastic.


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