IT has been the setting for cult TV hit Outlander and one of the locations for movie Cloud Atlas and with its famous turrets and cloisters, the University of Glasgow would not look out of place in a fantasy drama.

With its stunning architecture, a combination of Gothic Revival and Brutalism, there are many charms to be found on the grounds of one of Scotland’s oldest learning institutions. From its antique windows and greenery, it is one of the city’s most photographed landmarks and has its own touch of magic about it.

And now academics will officially launch the first research centre in the world to focus solely on fantasy tomorrow.

The Centre for the Fantasy and the Fantastic comes five years after Glasgow academics launched the world’s first ever masters in Fantasy Literature.

The unique centre, led by Dr Dimitra Fimi and Dr Rob Maslen, will bring together the biggest concentration of academics in this field working on a portfolio of research, knowledge exchange and educational activities.

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Dr Dimitra Fimi, a Senior Lecturer in Fantasy and Children’s Literature, and specialist on J.R.R. Tolkien, based at the College of Arts, said: “This will be the first research centre in the world to focus solely on fantasy. It will look at different expressions of the fantastic – literature, art, illustration, games & gaming as well as film & TV.

“My colleagues and I have considerable expertise and have published extensively on fantasy and the fantastic. We also have a great number of PhD students working with us on exciting research projects.

“This research centre is a chance for us to expand our collaboration with colleagues across the University and internationally, and to work closely with, and learn from, the fantasy community and creative practitioners in order to explore together what are the transformational possibilities of fantasy as a mode of expression and as a practice.

“And of course, Glasgow is the perfect location for students in this field. We are surrounded by expressions of fantasy and the fantastic in the University’s very architecture. But this is also a future facing University interested in world leading cutting edge research which will now include our Centre for Fantasy and the Fantastic.”

Given current coronavirus restrictions are in place, there will be a live stream of tomorrow’s official launch on YouTube from 6pm. The centre’s aims are to consolidate a world-leading centre for conducting and disseminating research in Fantasy and the Fantastic. It is also hoped to attract and educate a diverse cohort of scholars at MLitt, PhD, DFA and postdoctoral level and conduct pioneering research projects with external funders and partners.

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The centre also wants to bring together academia and the wider fantasy community, including creators and performers, in order to understand Fantasy’s transformative intellectual, cultural and social potential

Dr Rob Maslen, a Senior Lecturer in English Literature whose area of expertise includes Fantasy/the Fantastic and who set up the MLitt in Fantasy Literature, said: “Fantasy can be found everywhere in twenty-first-century global culture, in films, TV shows, plays, games, comics, the visual arts, and literature from picture books for the very young to multi-volume epics and one-off experimental forms.

“The new Glasgow Centre for Fantasy and the Fantastic allows us to pay close attention to this extraordinary phenomenon, its past, its present, and its many possible futures. I can’t wait to discover where its projects will lead us.”

Ellen Kushner, award-winning fantasy author, performer, and broadcaster, who is the keynote speaker at the official Centre launch, said: “The tradition of the fantastic in art and literature is far more deep and complex than many people realise. I’m overjoyed that a Centre, led by this particular crew of knowledgeable and passionate academics, will now exist to benefit us all, and lead us into the future.

“As a fantasy writer, I stand on the shoulders of storytellers stretching back through time, everything from the post-war children’s book authors I grew up reading, to the folk telling tales by the fire they’d heard from their grandmothers in their turn.

“An entire Centre making sure this knowledge is valued, perpetuated, and will exist to inform future generations fills me with joy.”