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Fantastic Worlds (10)

Innovative and new-medial forms of fantastic literature.

The term 'fantastic' denotes the literary-analytical discourse of a genre that, with respect to content, scope, and evaluation, is seen with some ambivalence. The spectrum of positions on fantastic literature extends from the outright negation of the genre to extremely broad definitions; some clearly undervalue it and others hold it in the highest regard. Furthermore, a consensus has not been reached on its status as an object of study: is fantasy literature a genre, a class, or an aesthetic category? Maximalist theories subsume under the genre of 'fantastic' everything from fantasy and science fiction to fairy tails, utopian literature, the lives of the saints, Gothic novels, ghost stories, and religious miracle stories. In contrast, minimalist views of the fantastic focus – in the structuralist tradition of Tzvetan Todorov – on the suspension of disbelief [?], by which measure the fluidity between the imaginative and the natural within fantastic fiction occupies a central role and results in a more restricted canon.

The controversy surrounding the fantastic reveals a goldmine for study; far from occupying a fringe position, the fantastic problematizes a fundamental issue: the relative importance of the tangible and Realism in art, as well as its reception in literary analysis. It is exactly within this frame of reference that the interdisciplinary mix of the section 'Fantastic Worlds' – whose members hale from the German and English departments, from cultural and media studies and art history, and also from philosophy, psychology, and theology – becomes particularly interesting. This rich mixture offers each participant the chance to expand his or her own horizon with at times surprising new aspects.

Since the majority of fantastic-theoretical publications are motivated by literary analysis, there is ample room for new explorations in the fields of visual arts, film, new media, and philosophy, for example. One goal of the section is to scrutinize the fantastic not only for its established forms, but also for its innovative and new-medial representations.

Section 10, 'Fantastical Worlds,' is a cooperative endeavour of the GGK and the Fantastic Library of Wetzlar, recognized as the world's largest collection of fantastic literature. Meetings take place in the Fantastic Library on Sundays at the beginning and the end of the semester.

Section 10's current points of emphasis

Dissertation presentationsCritique and discussion of excerpts from dissertations in progressGuest lectures and presentation and discussion of research on the 'Fantastic' by members and from publicationsCooperation with and participation in research and publication projects of the Fantastic Library Wetzlar (including translation, editing, and research work, lectures at conferences)Positioning Section 10 in public interactions (at the annual conference and by way of its associated publication, on the section's homepage, and in other ways representing research interests beyond campus)


Current topics of interest

  • Writing Worlds: Welten- und Raummodelle der Fantastik (2013 conference and proceedings)
  • Theory and definition of the fantastic (science fiction, fantasy, fantastic literature)




Next meeting

Our next meeting will be at the 1st February 2015 at the fantastic library (Phantastischen Bibliothek) Wetzlar


We are looking forward to fascinating lectures and exciting discussions.


Best regards

Klaudia Seibel


Dates and topics for upcoming meetings will be posted on the homepage of Section 10, "Fantastic Worlds."