Professor Farah Mendlesohn

Head of the Department of English and Media

Professor of Literary History

Faculty:Faculty of Arts, Law & Social Sciences

Department:Department of English and Media

Location: Cambridge

Areas of Expertise: English literature

Farah is a specialist in science fiction and fantasy literature. She is a leading critic and commentator, and organises events and conventions. She won the Hugo Award in 2005 for The Cambridge Companion to Science Fiction.

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Farah Mendlesohn trained in History with a strong interest in religious culture. As her work developed she became interested in literary and organisational communities and the development of shared rhetoric and values. She has taught in American Studies, Cultural Studies History, Publishing and Media and Creative Writing. Farah Mendlesohn has served as President of the International Association of the Arts, Chair of the Science Fiction Foundation, Area Head for Programme for the 67th World Science Fiction Convention, and Project Manager of Exhibits for the 72nd World Science Fiction Convention.

Research interests

  • Science fiction and fantasy history and rhetoric.
  • Fan communities.
  • Children’s literature
  • Historical ficton


  • PhD History, University of York
  • MA Peace Studies, Bradford
  • BA History, York

Memberships, editorial boards

  • International Association of the Fantastic in the Arts

Selected recent publications

Mendlesohn, F. and James, E., 2009. A Short History of Fantasy. Middlesex University Press: London.

Mendlesohn, F., 2009. The Inter-Galactic Playground: A Critical Study of Children’s and Teen’s Science Fiction. McFarland Press: Jefferson, North Carolina.

Mendlesohn, F., 2008. Rhetorics of Fantasy, Wesleyan University Press: Middletown, Connecticut.

Mendlesohn, F., 2006. Diana Wynne Jones: Children’s Literature and the Fantastic Tradition. Routledge: New York. ISBN: 0415970237. 272 pp.

Recent presentations and conferences

Guest Lecture at the Royal Society: The Royal Society and Science Fiction, May 2014.

Invited Speaker: 'National characters in Quaker and pacifist/anti-militaristic publications for children between the first and second world wars' at the conference Putting the figure on the map: imagining sameness and difference for children, Princeton University, September 2013.

Keynote Speaker, 'The Disassociated Hero: sociopathy and narrative structures', New Genre Army conference, Lincon, April 2013.

Keynote Speaker, 'What is this ‘child’ you speak of?', National Conference on Children’s Literature, Roehampton, May 2012.

Keynote, 'Peake and the Fuzzy Set of Fantasy', Mervyn Peake conference, Chichester, June 2011.

Keynote, 'Ethical and Political Considerations in World-Building', at World-Building: The Logic of Science and Science Fiction, Oslo, May 2011.

Keynote, 'Escaping the Influence of Narnia', at Fremde Aufbruch in Welten, University of Hamburg, April 2011.

'Escaping the Influence of Narnia', University Library series, University of Southern Florida, March 2011.

'Frances Hardinge’s Gullstruck Island, the language of genocide and the ridiculous', Homerton College Cambridge, 16 November 2010.

Keynote, 'Genre as a State of Mind', at Mensageiros das Estrelas, Lisbon, 4-6 November 2010.

'Gendering the Fantastic', at the IBBY conference, Roehampton, 2010.

'Now Let us Put Away Childish Things', Children’s Literature Association Conference, Chicago, 2008.