CFP: The Celtic Obsession in Modern Fantasy

CFP: The Celtic Obsession in Modern Fantasy


You are invited to submit a paper for an edited volume tentatively titled The Celtic Obsession in Modern Fantasy Literature to be submitted to Palgrave Macmillan.

Scholarship on Celtic-inspired fantasy literature has mostly focused on source-studies of pre-1980s texts (e.g. Sullivan, 1989; White, 1998). Dimitra Fimi’s recent Celtic Myth in Contemporary Children’s Fantasy: Idealization, Identity, Ideology (2017), has widened the discussion by engaging with the Celticism vs. Celtoscepticism debate, focusing on constructions of “Celtic” identities in children’s and young adult fantasies from the 1960s to the 2010s.

This edited collection will take the debate further by focusing on post-1980s Celtic-inspired fantasy for adults. The “Celticity” of each fantasy text can be interpreted broadly to include:

  • Creatively re-using heroes and mythological motifs from medieval Celtic texts, such as the Welsh Mabinogion, the Irish Táin Bó Cúailnge, etc.
  • Engaging with perceptions of the “Celts” in classical sources such as Strabo, Herodotus, and Polybius, Tacitus and Caesar.
  • Imaginatively utilizing insights from Iron Age archaeology, often dubbed “Celtic”
  • Adapting folklore traditions from Celtic-speaking countries
  • Evoking a looser notion of “Celtic”-like society, religion, folklore, etc., including in para-textual or marketing material

We acknowledge that the dividing line between children and adult fiction is not always clear. Papers can focus on the work of fantasists such as:

  • Kate Forsyth
  • David Gemmell
  • John Gwynne
  • Katharine Kerr
  • Stephen R. Lawhead
  • Ilka Tampke
  • Tad Willaims

(This is not an exhaustive list)

Although heroic or epic fantasy may seem to fit better the scope of this collection, we are open to considering proposals on other sub-genres of fantasy literature, such as urban, magical realism and SF/fantasy crossovers.

Please submit a title and abstract to the editors by:
15th December 2017
Essay due: 1st June 2018


Dr. Dimitra Fimi, Cardiff Metropolitan University (
Dr. Alistair J.P. Sims (


Fimi, Dimitra. Celtic Myth in Contemporary Children’s Fantasy: Idealization, Identity, Ideology. London: Palgrace Macmillan, 2017.
Sullivan III, C.W. Welsh Celtic Myth in Modern Fantasy. Westport, CT; London: Greenwood Press, 1989.
White, Donna R. A Century of Welsh Myth in Children’s Literature. Westport, CT; London: Greenwood Press, 1998.

The value of English literature at GCSE (really? do we even need to argue this?)

Last week, Owen Sheers rightly drew attention to the perilous consequences of removing English Literature as a core subject from GSCE requirements in Wales:

I was asked to share my two penneth in a BBC Radio interview for Good Evening Wales. You can listen to the entire story below (my contribution starts at 01:40).

For those of you who asked, here’s the exact wording and full reference for the Irish Murdoch quotation I used:

Prose literature can reveal an aspect of the world which no other art can reveal, and the discipline required for this revelation is par excellence the discipline of this art. And in the case of the novel, the most important thing to be thus revealed, not necessarily the only thing, but incomparably the most important thing, is that other people exist. (Murdoch, 1959, p. 267)

Murdoch, Iris (1959) ‘The Sublime and the Beautiful Revisited’, Yale Review, 49, 247-71. (Full text available here:


Alan Garner’s The Owl Service has its 50th anniversary today!

One of the books I’ve worked with very closely during the last few years is Alan Garner’s The Owl Service. Garner’s creative re-use of the tale of Lleu, Blodeuwedd, and Gronw from the Welsh Mabinogion made it a prime candidate for inclusion in my recently published monograph, Celtic Myth in Contemporary Children’s Fantasy (Palgrave Macmillan, 2017). In Chapter 5, I explore the way in which Garner creatively reshaped and appropriated this Welsh legend, and I argue that he created a “prototype text” in which the supernatural erupts into the mundane and intrudes into family and/or romantic relationships of teenagers. Books such as Jenny Nimmo’s The Chestnut Soldier and Catherine Fisher’s Darkhenge has followed this tradition, using Welsh myth as a way of dealing with psychological traumas, internal anxieties, and the perennial problems that often concern teenagers
(romance, sexuality, intergenerational and sibling conflict, etc.).

Having been published in 1967, I knew that the book was going to be 50-years-old at some point this year, so I got in touch with HarperCollins to find out the exact date. Thanks to their archivist, Dawn Sinclair, I now know that The Owl Service was published on 21st August 1967, so it celebrates its 50th anniversary today. Dawn very kindly tracked for me the relevant page in the Collins Complete Book Catalogue, Autumn 1967:

Photo courtesy of HarperCollins Publishers Archive

Photo courtesy of HarperCollins Publishers Archive

To mark the 50th anniversary of The Owl Service, I contributed this article to the Times Literary Supplement (TLS) online today:

I look forward to teaching the book again this year and to sharing its haunting qualities with my students.