“Writing Worlds. Models of World and Space in the Fantastic” is the fourth annual conference of the Gesellschaft für Fantastikforschung e.V. (Association for Research in the Fantastic, a prestigious academic organization dedicated to the research of the Fantastika), organized together with Giessen’s Justus Liebig University and the Wetzlar Phantastische Bibliothek (Wetzlar’s Library of the Fantastic), held simultaneously with the 33th edition of the Wetzlar’s Days of the Fantastic (33. Wetzlarer Tage der Phantastik).
Venue: Wetzlar’s Congress Center ( Wetzlar Stadthalle, 2b, Brühlsbachstrasse, Wetzlar, Hessen, Gemany) and Library of the Fantastic (Phantastische Bibliothek : 20,Turmstrasse , Wetzlar, Hessen, Gemany)
“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 – Fantastic Worlds of the Giessen Graduate Centre for Cultural Studies and the Wetzlar’s Library of the Fantastic/Phantastische Bibliothek Wetzlar.
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” (Journal for Research of the Fantastic) twice a year as well as its own book series “Beiträge zur Fantastikforschung” (Contributions to the Research of the Fantastic).
In addition, an annual conference provides the opportunity for a membership assembly, taking place in different locations each year. The GFF is currently based at the University of Hamburg.
The association has the tasks of encouraging academic exploration of the Fantastic in art, literature and culture in the German-speaking sphere and of advancing academic and cultural knowledge in these fields. It pursues the following aims in particular:
– the association promotes interdisciplinarity.
– it publishes an academic journal.
– it organizes – either itself or in cooperation with academic chairs, academies, libraries and other institutions – lectures, symposia and exhibitions on the “Fantastic”.
– the GFF e.V. is non-political and non-denominational.
The Phantastische Bibliothek Wetzlar (Wetzlar’s Library of the Fantastic) was founded in 1989, is one of the largest public libraries specialising in fantastic literature worldwide and of the largest in continental Europe. It is generally a reference library, open for the public and scientists. It is generally a reference library, open for the public and researchers. The aim of the library is to collect everything in print which belongs to: science fiction, fantasy, literature, classical fantasy, horror, utopian novels, fantastic journey and adventure novels, fairy tales, saga, myths, etc.
At the moment the library is in possession of 200,000 titles. This collection includes hardcovers and paperbacks, dissertations, magazines and fanzines. There are also some rare materials, e.g. the documenta 1984 science-fiction-collection. The Phantastische Bibliothek Wetzlar closely cooperates with schools, universities and literary societies. Seminars, conferences and exhibitions are held. Once a year the library organizes the “Wetzlarer Tage der Phantastik” (Wetzlar Fantastic Conference), a literary symposium for authors, journalists, publishers and the public. Zentrum für Literatur (Centre of Literature) is a department of the library and offers programmes in general education, reading and language courses, e.g. to support the children’s reading skills.
Publications : The Phantastische Bibliothek Wetzlar is the editor of the scholarly series “Schriftenreihe und Materialien der Phantastischen Bibliothek Wetzlar” which publishes monographs and collections of essays.
Pics, logos, poster, texts © Gesellschaft für Fantastikforschung e.V., Phantastische Bibliothek Wetzlar, Wetzlar Stadthalle