Worldcon 75 and The Hobbit panel

Worldcon, that is, The World Science Fiction Convention, was held for the 75th time in August 2017. Worldcon 75 in Helsinki, Finland was the first one to have an academic track, a whole string of panels dedicated to academic research on science fiction and fantasy, arranged by Finfar – The Finnish Socienty for Science Fiction and Fantasy Research. Our project had the honor of hosting the first session of the academic track! We were pleased to notice that we had a room full of audience eager to hear results from our Uses of Fantasy project.

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Image: Minna Siikilä

The opening presentation was held by our project leader PhD Irma Hirsjärvi, a fandom researcher at the Research Centre for Contemporary Culture at the University of Jyvaskyla. She introduced our project and explored the possible differences between the responses of the  Nordic countries, as well as the dilemma of “Did we pose the right questions in the survey?” PhD Jyrki Korpua, our international Tolkien expert, gave a talk on the audience responses to myth and mythology in The Hobbit films. Doctoral student, MA Tanja Välisalo analysed audience attachment to particular Hobbit characters as following different trajectories through narrative and social contexts of Tolkien’s world and fandom. MA, also a doctoral student Minna Siikilä discussed how fandom and antifandom are intertwined in online discussions of The Hobbit film trilogy.

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Irma Hirsjärvi, chairing our panel at Worldcon.
Image: Sanna Pudas

One of the high points of Worldcon for many attendees was most certainly seeing George R.R. Martin. The author of A Song of Ice and Fire, a book series adapted into a television series Game of Thrones, appeared in several programme numbers, for example a panel on the creation of fictional worlds. Martin’s appearances were especially intriguing for our project group because of the on-going global research project on the reception of Game of Thrones. As we have previously advertised in this blog, the data for the project is gathered through an online survey, and there is still time to participate until the end of August!

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