Call for papers for vol. 2 (2023), issues 3 and 4 for Imagining the Impossible: International Journal for the Fantastic in Contemporary Media

Imagining the Impossible: International Journal for the Fantastic in Contemporary Media CFP for Volume 2, issue 3: Imaginary Beings, and issue 4: Imaginary Artifacts & Design. To be published Summer 2023 and Fall 2023

This international, peer-reviewed journal is dedicated to the interdisciplinary study of the fantastic in today’s entertainment media. The aim is to offer new and cutting-edge theories in response to the field of the fantastic. The fantastic is widely understood as stories and genres that break with natural laws. We use the fantastic as a super-genre and an umbrella term for all genres that have fantastic elements – science fiction, horror, fantasy, superheroes and more. The focus is on fantastic fiction in entertainment media, including film, popular literature, television, games, comic books, and animated films. Media forms such as haunted houses, theme parks, and online forums also fall within this scope. The journal aims to offer a forum for multiple theoretical approaches to the fantastic that respond to their diverse media forms. Approaches include: genre theory and aesthetic analysis; theories of world-building, design and production studies; transmedia developments; storytelling and narrative theory; and cognitive, biocultural and evolutionary theories. The journal is double blind peer-reviewed and has 1-3 issues per year. Articles will be available online when they have been peer-reviewed and edited. All issues have a theme section and an open section for articles outside the theme.


Issue 3: Imaginary Beings (Summer 2023)

“We do not know what the dragon means, just as we do not know the meaning of the universe, but there is something in the image of the dragon that is congenial to man’s imagination… It is, one might say, a necessary monster” – Jorge Luis Borges.


Imaginary beings, from the winged horse Pegasus to the monstrous creature in Alien, have consistently been a key feature of the fantastic. Noel Carroll, in A Philosophy of Horror, argues that monsters horrify us because they are “categorically interstitial, categorically contradictory, incomplete, or formless” (32), and so they combine forms or states that violate our sense of ontologically distinct categories, such as the living dead or the werewolf. Yet the same fusion of categories can also be a source of wonder, such as mermaids or superheroes. In some narratives, the same being can be either wondrous or terrifying, as the dragon is. In this issue we welcome original articles on the role of imaginary beings in classical and contemporary narratives. Topics may include, but are not limited to:


  • The imaginary being as a human correlate.
  • Design and interpretation of imaginary beings.
  • Imaginary beings and emotions.
  • Gender, class and diversity perspectives.
  • Imaginary beings as main protagonists or sidekicks in games.
  • Focalization and other narratological or response-oriented functions related to imaginary beings.
  • The ergodicity of imaginary beings.
  • Othering, orientalism and colonialism in fantastic fiction.
  • Imaginary beings as sources of horror and wonder.
  • The transformation in how particular imaginary beings are designed and represented, such as Frankenstein’s monster or the vampire
  Issue 4: Imaginary Artifacts & Design (Fall 2023)

“In everyday usage, the word object denotes a solid, visible, tangible, and inanimate thing; the notion of a nonexistent or merely imaginary object must appear as a contradiction in terms” – Winfried Nöth.


The fantastic is replete with imaginary objects, often imbued with great power, such as magical swords, truth serums, occult figurines and technology so advanced it borders on magic. Artifacts frequently serve as plot catalysts, as in Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, or as totalizing concepts, as in Boye’s Kallocain. On screen, objects and design are crucial for world building and often impart vital story information about sci-fi or fantasy universes. Unlike imaginary beings, however, which often combine ontologically distinct categories, imaginary artifacts are harder to define. Some imaginary objects could theoretically be created, whereas others are fundamentally impossible. Sentient AI complicates all of these categories, as it can be both an imaginary being and an imaginary object that many believe will be created one day. This issue focuses on the role and design of imaginary artifacts in fantastic fiction and entertainment media. Perspectives suitable for Volume 4, such as artificially intelligent beings, may be of interest here too, or merit a follow-up article.

Topics include:
  • Cybernetic perspectives on artifacts.
  • Diegetic prototypes and performative artifacts.
  • The artifact as a plot device, novum or catalyst.
  • Artifacts as comments on history or the present.
  • Props, prop-making and design.
  • The ontologies of artifacts and beings.
  • Gear in games.
  • Artifacts in cosplay, fan-fiction and fan-art.
  • Artifacts and artificial intelligence.
  • Imaginary media.


The aim is to highlight original research within the fantastic in media entertainment. We welcome articles that take a case-based approach thus using a case study to develop the article’s argument whether the focus is theoretical, historical, or something else. Thus, we hope theoretical and analytical approaches can merge to produce more accessible articles.



5000-8000 words, Chicago style (in text), please keep notes to a minimum. Illustrations are welcome, 300 dpi at print size, .jpg. Authors are responsible for all illustration copyrights.


Deadline for issue 3

A 500-800 word synopsis on August 31, 2022. A first draft article February 1, 2023. Published Summer 2023. The finished article should include 125-150 word abstract and 5 - 7 keywords. Articles will be double blind peer-reviewed, edited and published online as they are submitted to the journal.


Deadline for issue 4

A 500-800 word synopsis on November 1, 2022. A first draft article April 1, 2023. Published Fall 2023. The finished article should include 125-150 word abstract and 5 - 7 keywords. Articles will be double blind peer-reviewed, edited and published online as they are submitted to the journal.




Please send proposals and questions to

Rikke Schubart: or Jakob Ion Wille:


Editorial team

Rikke Schubart, University of Southern Denmark, Angela Ndalianis, Swinburne University of Technology, Jakob Ion Wille, The Royal Danish Academy, Stephen Joyce, Aarhus University, Christian Mehrstam, University of Gothenburg