Call for Papers: Fantasy, Theology, and the Imagination

Call for Papers: Fantasy, Theology, and the Imagination

Edited by Austin M. Freeman, Andrew D. Thrasher, and Fotini Toso

 In the world of High Fantasy, authors create fictional worlds that often reflect human religiosity and theological themes in new and creative ways. Through theological and religious analyses of high fantasy and fantasy series, the editors invite paper proposals for a volume on the intersection of fantasy and theology. While the editors acknowledge that fantasy has roots extending backwards past the Victorian age, the genre of high or heroic fantasy has made its most indelible mark from the Twentieth Century to the present. As such, the editors are looking for contributions from this time period with a focus on methodological and thematic approaches to fantasy and theology, and for contributions that focus on the intersection of religion and theology in particular fantasy authors and series. Authors such as Tolkien, Peake, Jordan, Le Guin, Pratchett, Eddison, Rice Burroughs, Alexander, Haggard, Sanders, and more engage in a mythopoeic enterprise which invite discussions along the interstices of literary criticism, philosophy, theology, and religious studies. Such a volume might be wide-ranging, and the authors invite chapters which fall into one of three organizational categories listed below.

(1) Methodologies & Approaches: larger scale engagements with the concepts of theology, fantasy, and the imagination, or with major critics of the fantasy genre such as Manlove, Jackson, etc. Topics might include:

  • On Fairy Tales: Contextual Theologies and Classical Fairy Tales
  • Creating Worlds: Ethical, Methodological, and Theological Implications of the Fantasy Creator
  • Worldview, Ressourcement, and Re-enchantment: Traces of Religion in the Purpose of Fantasy
  • Myth and the Social Imaginary: The Intersections between Created Mythologies, Imagined Worlds, and the Contemporary World

(2) Themes: theological explorations of major themes in fantasy such as dragons, quests, heroes, etc. Topics might include:

  • Dragons, Vices, and the Satanic
  • The Quest and the Hero: Narrative Theology and Character/Identity Formation in Fantasy
  • Uses of Light and Dark in Fantasy and Theology
  • Theological Anthropology and Ethics of Otherness: Deities, Immortality, and Fantastic Creatures
  • Magic, Magick, and Miracles
  • Theology and Hierarchies of Divinity in Fantasy
  • Atheism in Fantasy

(3) Works: focused theological and religious analyses of specific authors and books. Topics might include:

  • Christian Symbolism in The Chronicles of Narnia
  • Moral Theology in The Lord of the Rings
  • Theology, Apologetics, and Modernity in the Fantasy and Fairy Tales of William Morris and George Macdonald
  • Inter-Religious Dimensions in Robert Jordan and David Eddings
  • Theological dimensions of Dungeons and Dragons
  • Theological analyses of Jorge Luis Borges, Ursula Le Guin, Eric Eddison, H. Rider Haggard, Edgar Rice Burroughs, Brandon Sanderson, and Terry Pratchett

The editors are not looking for submissions on the subjects of teen fiction, supernatural romance, Harry Potter (see forthcoming volume), or Game of Thrones (see forthcoming volume). Because of the overabundance of literature, the editors wish to downplay work on C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien so that lesser known and more contemporary fantasy may be addressed. However, the editors do welcome submissions of quality on these two authors.

The editors gladly invite submissions on, but not limited to, these topics for a volume titled Theology, Fantasy, and the Imagination to be published by Lexington Press in the Theology and Popular Culture book series. Book editors include Austin M. Freeman, Andrew D. Thrasher, and Fotini Toso. Proposals may be sent to

Proposals should be between 300-700 words. Please attach a CV and abstract of your proposed chapter. Chapters length will be determined at a later date, based upon the number of accepted proposals. The editors plan to respond to proposals no later than November 15th.

Proposal Due Date: October 15th, 2020.

Chapter Submission Due: March 15, 2021.

Austin M. Freeman (PhD, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School) is a theologian who focuses on J.R.R. Tolkien and, more broadly, on theology and fantasy. He is the contributor or editor for several scholarly books on these subjects, and the author of a forthcoming study on Tolkien’s systematic theology published by Lexham Press. He teaches medieval literature and classics in Dallas.

Andrew D. Thrasher is a Post-Graduate Researcher at the University of Birmingham, U.K. and teaches religious studies at George Mason University and Tidewater Community College in Virginia. He holds a ThM in Christian Theology and an MA in Interdisciplinary Studies and has a background in comparative philosophy and philosophical theology. He is a regular contributor to the Theology and Popular Culture book series and is published in a festshrift on Raimon Panikkar.

Fotini Toso (PhD, University of Divinity Australia) is an early career researcher in Melbourne, Australia with a research focus in Old English literature, theology and literature, pop culture, and ethics. She holds an MA (Research) in English Literature from the University of Melbourne and also has a background in publishing and editing.


One Comment Add yours

  1. Interesting idea. I (being a Christian fantasy author with a somewhat untraditonal interest in what’s often branded “theology”) have thoughts about fantasy and theology, but not sure if they fit what you are looking for – or if I could work well with editors or with a short proposal and then fitting my chapter to a pre-determined length.

    Also, would it mess things up that I seem to differ with most people out there in that I didn’t see the Christianity in J.R.R Tolkein at all? (I personally found reading Lord of the Rings and the Silmarilion to be an enchanting invitation to paganism – though I have thoughts on the relationship of paganism to Christianity, too .)

    Liked by 1 person

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