Panel 5.1 Heterotopias of Fantastika


Sean Wilcock, Leeds Beckett University, UK, “Mendlesohn’s Taxonomy of Fantasy Applied to the Interaction between the Quotidian and the Internet-as-Heterotopia”

Wilcock (2013) put forward an argument that the internet is highly constrained to be magical, partly because the infrastructure operates by Frazer’s two laws of magic: Contagion and Similarity (Frazer, 1890). It also proposed that we now live in a world where humans are part real, part virtual, extending the idea of Spimes put forward in Sterling (2005, quoted in Doctorow (2005)) to show that we are now human Spimes, completely inseparable from the virtual world not just in theory but in practice.

The online world can also be considered as the ultimate heterotopia or space of Otherness. It is the ‘place’ where Otherness is often celebrated, or at least expounded upon, and is often seen as a separate intellectual realm to the quotidian world. The internet as we experience it - as a radical alternative to the real world and being a realm of ‘half-real, half-spirit’ human Spimes operating in a magical environment - therefore has strong parallels with the worlds of the fantastic.

Mendlesohn (2002) put forward “four categories within the fantastic: the intrusive, the estranged, the portal, and the immersive fantasy. These categories are determined by the means by which the fantastic enters the narrated world.” It is my hypothesis that these categories of the fantastic provide a route to understanding our cultural spaces in the online world. In this understanding, the different types of transition highlighted by Mendlesohn (portal etc) map directly on to the different types of interaction people encounter as they move between the virtual and quotidian worlds, and have done so not just in ‘space’ but increasingly so over time.  This will hopefully provide a greater insight into where human culture is going as more and more of our activities move online, and show that an understanding of the fantastic can inform our understanding of the contemporary world.


Doctorow, Cory. (2005) Available from <> [Accessed 19th July 2013].

Frazer, James. (1890, republished 2003) The Golden Bough [Online]. Project Gutenberg.  Available from <> [Accessed 7th July 2013].

Mendlesohn, Farah (2002). 'Towards a Taxonomy of Fantasy', Journal of the Fantastic in the Arts, Vol. 13, No. 2, pp. 173-87.

Sterling, Bruce. (2005) Shaping Things, 1st Edition, Massachusetts: MIT Press

Wilcock, Sean. (2013). The Source of Magic. In: Spencer, Adam Critical Perspectives on Making Science Public. Nottingham, UK: University of Nottingham. p.99-103. Available at:


Bionote: Sean Wilcock is a Senior Lecturer at Leeds Beckett University. He teaches primarily on creative technology and computing courses. His current research focusses on the internet as an alternative space that operates by magical rather than scientific principles.


Rachel Fox, Lancaster University, UK, “‘The other garden’: Palimpsestic and Abject Faerie Spaces and Species in J. M. Barrie’s and Arthur Rackham’s Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens

The gates close around Kensington Gardens and ‘Lock-out Time’ commences: at night the faeries come out to play. In this paper I will examine Faerie as it is constructed visually, textually, and even materially in the illustrated ‘Edition-de-Luxe’ first small quarto edition of Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens, published by Hodder and Stoughton in 1910. Faerie is marked out by a temporal-spatial barrier: the ‘Closing of the Gates’. Just as Foucault, in “Of Other Spaces,” conceives ‘the other city’ (6) – a liminal, synchronous space – here we are confronted with ‘the other garden’: the heterotopic garden that constitutes Faerie.

I go on to conceive Faerie as an abject space: an ‘in-between’ and ‘composite’ space (Kristeva 4). I will examine the illustrated map of the garden alongside Rackham’s illustrations and Barrie’s narrative. The super-imposition of words and images unto each other constitutes a material palimpsest which ultimately constructs the abject faerie space that is located in the liminal, synchronous ‘other garden’ of the eponymous London park. Thus, I conceive the ways through which the heterotopic Faerie is constituted from the fare of material palimpsestic textual and visual layers that form this particular ‘Edition-de-Luxe’ of Kensington Gardens.

Additionally, the act of abjection on the part of the faeries is one typified by ‘a hatred that smiles’ (4) and this aesthetically appealing ‘Edition-de-Luxe’ is demonstrative of this process. The allure of Rackham’s colour-plates, of Barrie’s quaint narrative, and of the faeries’ beautiful, often childish faces is beset by the dangers cast from the act of trespassing across the borders into ‘the other garden’. Faerie constitutes a place of sinister beauty: a heterotopic, palimpsestic space filled by the at once desired and monstrous fantastical ‘Other’. The gates close around Kensington Gardens and ‘Lock-out Time’ commences: at night the faeries come out to kill.


Bionote: Rachel is a PhD candidate in the Department of English and Creative Writing at Lancaster University. Her thesis has set out to explore different representations of female identities in West Asian based literature – across different textual and visual forms – and she has a keen interest in inter-media relations.


Lauren Randall, Lancaster University, “Fantastical Florida; or, (Re)Imagined Realities and Worlds of Darkness in Karen Russell’s Swamplandia!

In the distorted world of fantastika, real locales and fantastical sites find the space to converge into symbolic, allegorical geographies. Using Karen Russell’s Southern-Gothic, magical-realist, quasi-satirical novel Swamplandia! (2011), this paper will consider how these representative spaces in fantastical fiction commentate upon and contribute to the ‘cultural narration’ (Jokinen and Veijola, 2003) attached to the real/non-fiction locations they are inspired by. It will explore Russell’s warped construction of Floridian spaces in her novel – from tourist attractions to historical swampland – and posit that these exaggerated, distorted locales actually reflect the multiple layers of narratives and authorship that co-compose Florida and its tangible geographies. Indeed, it will argue that Swamplandia!’s Florida is a re-imagining of an already imagined reality, a new, dark iteration of the conjunctive effects of tourism and heritage on the formation of the Floridian landscape. Subsequently, this presentation will focus closely upon the numerous sites of tourism and consumerism that appear in the novel – predominantly the eponymous alligator attraction park and its rival behemoth water park World of Darkness – and question how and why Russell makes them so malevolent, hostile and traumatic, intimating that the tourist appears both as an enabling protagonist and destructive antagonist in the landscape’s narratives. Simultaneously, and alternatively, it will also explore the novel’s more mythical and supernatural manifestations of space, such as the depiction of the swampland as a labyrinthine Underworld, and examine how these Gothic portrayals engage with the notions of heritage and legacy, particularly in relation to the Floridian native. Finally, via Foucauldian heterotopias and Hell-ish spaces, this paper will concentrate upon the darker side of space and place in Russell’s Florida, de-composing its and Florida’s fictions to consider the narrative both shadowed and illuminated by the Sunshine State.


Bionote: Lauren Randall is a PhD student at Lancaster University. Her doctoral thesis is centred upon the concept of ‘Sunshine Gothic’ (primarily Beach Gothic and Tourism Gothic) in contemporary American narratives, fiction and non-fiction.  She has previously given papers on nightmares and hopelessness on American beaches and uncanniness and Californian vampires.