CFP: Female Fantasy Hero

Call for Chapters: Edited Collection on The Female Hero in Modern Fantasy
full name / name of organization:
Lori M. Campbell, University of Pittsburgh
contact email:
I warmly invite proposals for a collection of essays exploring the female hero as a distinct character type in modern fantasy, covering works published from the 1950s through the present. Although this study will focus on literature and film adaptations, interdisciplinary approaches are welcome and encouraged.

This collection is under contract with McFarland and Company with publication scheduled for summer 2014.

This study aims to provide a multifaceted and thorough look at an important character type in fantasy that only begins to demonstrate significant empowerment in the latter twentieth century. Authors will explore the nuances and implications of female heroism with a goal to contribute to the further evolution of the character type as well as to the critical study of fantasy. Authors will focus on characters that exemplify female heroism to its most admirable extent, or on characters who demonstrate problematic, nontraditional, or varying degrees of heroism. A major concern of this work will be the notion of power itself, as it is claimed or used by the female hero, as well as in how it is represented by and around her, and the ways in which her stories reflect contemporary notions of power/powerlessness for women, men, and society in general both within and outside the text.

This collection defines “modern fantasy” to include a variety of subcategories, including fairy tale, dark fantasy, science fantasy, children’s literature, the gothic, high and low fantasy, and magical realism. Likewise, “hero” has myriad meanings; we will work from a broad understanding of one who is not simply a protagonist but who risks her own well-being to benefit the greater good.

The book will be divided into sections each focusing on a type of female hero, broadly defined. These topics may be adjusted depending upon the essays that are accepted for publication.

I. Pathfinders: Empowered Women of Medieval Romance and
Fairy Tale

This first grouping of essays creates a foundation for the rest of the book by focusing on characters who demonstrate degrees of heroism in their efforts to defy certain female stereotypes in medieval romance and fairy tale, the predecessors to modern fantasy. Submissions are also welcome for the concluding chapter of this section which will focus on J.R.R. Tolkien, who in addition to being a scholar and fan of these earlier genres, is commonly viewed as the primary architect of modern fantasy in his publication of The Lord of the Rings in 1954.

II. Underestimated Overachievers: Unlikely Female Heroes

This section of essays will discuss the unlikely female hero, her efforts toward overcoming her unlikeliness; and the relation between these efforts and those of real-world women and girls to turn oppression into power.

III. Show Stealers: Female Sidekicks

This section focuses on those female helper characters who become heroes in their own right, often overshadowing her male counterparts in the process.

IV. Unwilling Do-gooders: Female Villains and Villain-Heroes

Villainy connotes a form of power and provides an important site of exploration for fully positioning the female hero in modern fantasy. The essays in this section might explore various power imbalances in society that turn goodness to evil, thus exposing a heroic underside to the female villain. Such characters often end up acting heroically despite their evil intentions.

Chapters may focus on single or multiple authors and texts/series. Possible topics could cover texts by authors including but not limited to:

Suzanne Collins
Susan Cooper
Roald Dahl
Diane Duane
Neil Gaiman
Robin Hobb
Diana Wynne Jones
Tanith Lee
Ursula Le Guin
Madeleine L’Engle
C. S. Lewis
George R.R. Martin
Anne McCaffrey
Robin McKinley
Stephenie Meyer
Tamora Pierce
Terry Pratchett
Philip Pullman
J.K. Rowling
Jonathan Stroud
Laini Taylor
Scott Westerfield
Jane Yolen

Submit a 2-page proposal (or a full-length essay if available) and a short biography as Word documents to Lori Campbell via or
Queries are welcome at either address.

The deadline for proposal submissions is May 10, 2013

All submissions must be original and previously unpublished. Please note that being invited to submit a full-length essay based on the proposal does not guarantee inclusion in the final publication. Based on the initial submissions, selected contributor candidates will be requested to submit their full-length essays of 7,000-12,000 words in MLA format. The editor will make all final decisions regarding publication on the merit of the full-length essays.

If your proposal is selected, your first draft of the full-length essay will be due by August 1, 2013.

About the Editor:
Lori M. Campbell, Ph.D. is a lecturer in the Department of English and Film Studies Program at University of Pittsburgh, specializing in fantasy, myth and folktale, children’s literature, and the gothic. Her book, Portals of Power: Magical Agency and Transformation in Literary Fantasy, was published by McFarland and Company in 2010. Her other publications include articles on J.R.R. Tolkien, J.K. Rowling, Frances Hodgson Burnett, J.M. Barrie, and Thomas Hardy, as well as introductions to new Barnes and Noble editions of classics by J.M. Barrie, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, and the Brothers Grimm.


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