Re-organising the community

Day two of the conference was the main one with two strands in two rooms.

It was also the first time that I’ve given a paper at a conference but this was fortunately done at 9am so I could kick back and actually enjoy the day. I talked about the paternal roles assumed by wizards, a largely unsuccessful affair until forced to take some semblance of control. Not sure it was the most successful paper but I got some good questions and some ideas on furthering it for the future. Ika Willis’ “Mum’s a Silly Fusspot” argued for the reposotioning of the child in terms of a community of equals rather than just a blood ties. This set up another theme (albeit smaller) of the conference: the way that DWJ’s child protagonists organise the community around their needs to expand and explore the world.

Gili Bar-Hilel argued for a reading of Howl’s Moving Castle as a retelling of the Wizard of Oz. I think that is only part of it, a major part (explored by David Rudd on Sunday) is the (de|re)construction of fairy tales which she does. Andy Sawyer also looked at the “trilogy” which features Howl (Howl’s Moving Castle, Castle in the Air and Hose of Many Ways) and how knowledge is power in terms of shaping and understanding the world. (He mentioned Vladimir Propp so I find myslef wanting to read more of his work – but what is it about the Russians and the fantastic give Todorov and Bakhtin’s useful work?) Junko Nishimura gave a paper on housework and its use in re-ordering the chaotic world of the Howl books.

I missed Shana Worthen’s paper on Stew as it ran in parallel with these ones. Sigh but you can’t be everywhere at once!

After lunch,  I caught the dramatic exhibition that appears to be Tina Rath when she gets going with her examination of the Gothic in Time of the Ghost (though there were some other references but slight in comparison). The discussion veered towards posthumous fantasy in trying to ascertain other work written from the point of view of the ghost (Chris Priestley does in Tales of Terror from the Black Ship and John Crowley in the haunting Engine Summer). Naomi Wood explored the idea of the humorous numinous in DWJ and Jonathan Stroud which linked high fantasy and low fantasy via humour.

René Fleischbein explored metafiction in Fire and Hemlock and how it functions as reader empowerment via the needs of the character to create and articulate their own stories. Gabriela Steinke and Maria Nikolajeva both explored the Game (which to my shame I’ve had on my shelf since it came out but haven’t remembered to read) and the way that it plays with and presents myths.

Sharyn November , DWJ’s editor at Firebird, gave a highly amusing (more like rolling on the floor with laughter) talk about her working life with DWJ after we had listened to Diana read from he forthcoming novel, Enchanted Glass.

As per the previous, some of us watched the rest of Archer’s Goon on DVD which Edward James and Farah provided.

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