The International Conference on the Fantastic in the Arts took place in Orlando, Florida for the 38th time in March 2017 with the theme of “Fantastic Epics”. Some of our project members also took an epic journey over the Atlantic to represent The World Hobbit Project.
Our very own Jyrki Korpua gave a paper presentation under the title “Divine Mothers and Active Heroines: Female Identity and Roles in J. R. R. Tolkien’s Legendarium and Peter Jackson’s Movie Adaptations”. In the same session, Don Riggs (Drexel University) read an interesting paper on Peter Jackson’s videoblogs that build the “epic anticipation” for Jackson’s Hobbit films. A lively discussion around The Hobbit films and their audiences ensued and the ongoing Game of Thrones research project and survey were also mentioned.
Research on fantasy audiences was also represented in several papers on fans and fan cultures, such as Gail Bondi’s presentation on fans learning new literacies through their participation in an online Harry Potter knitting and crocheting community and Nicola Govocek’s presentation on how Supernatural fans approach ethical issues through fan fiction.
A different view on fan experiences was offered by the natural resource of the Orlando area – theme parks! A visit to Orlando Universal Studios gave an intriguing glimpse on how theme parks based on existing narratives can invite visitors to step into the fictional worlds of their favorite stories.
Overall, the conference offered the great atmosphere and lively discussions for which it is known. While the sessions offered wide array of topics from all walks of speculative fiction, the leisure activities, such as the farewell party by the hotel pool and mingling with people after sessions will remain among the brightest memories of ICFA38.