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Dr Chuckie Palmer-Patel

Former Research Student

Chuckie Palmer-Patel


Following the successful annual Fantastika conferences, I will be editing the new Fantastika Journal, expected to start publication soon. Visit wwww.fantastikajournal.com for upcoming details.

The 1st annual Fantastika conference (Visualizing Fantastika) was held on July 4th, 2014 at Lancaster University, with 21 papers presented and keynotes by Bryan Talbot and Brian Baker. An edition of The Luminary journal with extended articles from the event was released in summer 2015 (http://www.lancaster.ac.uk/luminary/issue6/index.htm).

The 2nd annual Fantastika conference (Locating Fantastika) was held July 7th & 8th, 2015 at Lancaster with 40 papers presented and keynotes by Ruth Heholt and Philippa Semper. Another issue for The Luminary is expected soon with extended articles from the conference.

The theme for the 3rd annual Fantastika conference is Global Fantastika, to be held July 4th & 5th, 2016. We are pleased to announce Mark Bould, David Punter, Sarah Illot, and Chloe Buckley as keynote speakers. The abstract deadline has passed, but the conference is free. Registration will begin in May 2016. Stay tuned for details.

Following a successful conference on alternate history on March 30th & 31st, 2015, produced in partnership with Glyn Morgan at Liverpool University, we are are now currently editing a book collection featuring extended conference papers from the conference. The book proposal for Sideways in Time is currently under review with the University of Liverpool Press.

Thesis Outline


This thesis will examine the sub-genre of ‘heroic epic fantasy’. The ‘heroic’ defines works that have an identifiable protagonist (or group of protagonists) that are working towards a common goal of justice (if combined with the epic, this goal is to save the world thereby fulfil their destiny); ‘epic’ denotes a setting that focuses on the world on a global and cosmic level – and includes some idea of a divine force or anthropomorphic fate underpinning the patterns and movements of the universe. The thesis will examine this under-theorised and under-regarded sub-genre in relation to its internal logics of world building, narrative structure and constructions of affect.

By examining motifs of time and space, this thesis will demonstrate that the internal logic of fantasy – the world-building – is informed by real-world scientific and philosophical models of the world. This thesis argues that: (1) although fantasy has been critically viewed in terms of ‘impossibility’ (by J. R. R. Tolkien, 1947; C. N. Manlove, 1975; Eric S. Rabkin, 1976; W. R. Irwin, 1976; Darko Suvin, 1979; Brian Attebery, 1980), fantasy does have a rational world-building; (2) repetitive motifs and patterns in the text serves the function of furthering the pleasure of storytelling and reception, as well as reinforcing the sense of wonder; and (3) rational world-building serves the purpose of creating and fulfilling narrative functions. Furthermore, motifs of time and space that are necessary for world-building are themselves structural necessities for the story to occur. In essence, world-building of fantasy fiction – heroic epic fantasy in particular – cannot occur without these motifs of time and space, and the plot of the heroic epic would not occur without the world-building. The entirety of the rise and fall of one or several civilizations are contained within the narratives of epic fantasy, and defining motifs – such as prophecy, the battle of good and evil, cyclical narratives, repetitive structures – can only function as a result of these real-world models of balance and equilibrium, entropy, chaos, and an interconnected network.

The thesis draws upon the works of critics that define fantasy by the “feel” of fantasy – by the sense of wonder (Attebery, 1992) or the effect of fantasy (Gary Wolfe, 1982), or, indeed, by affect. In so far as it is defined by affect the genre of fantasy may be confused with the mode of fantasy, but whereas the mode may contain elements of fantasy, the genre of fantasy is one that contains similar features and narrative patterns. Consequently, the thesis examines the subgenre of ‘heroic epic fantasy’ in order to examine the commonalities and differences between novels of this subgenre produced within the same time and place, post-1989 Anglophone fiction. 

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