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Science Fiction Across Media: Alternative Histories, Alien Futures
Umeå University, Sweden
April 23-24, 2012

Science fiction is becoming a mainstream and increasingly popular genre in fiction and film, as demonstrated by recent novels by Kazuo Ishiguro, Michel Houellebecq, Junot Diaz and William Gibson as well as the global success of James Cameron’s Avatar. Yet science fiction is more than simple entertainment. This workshop considers science fiction as multi-medial explorations of alternative histories and alternative futures and invites scholars across the humanities to present their ongoing work on science fiction either in the form of full-length 20-minute papers, or as shorter papers on work in progress or mini-presentations on crucial concepts or ideas (8 minutes).

We are particularly interested in papers that explore science fiction in and across its varied media — novels, short stories, films, animation, comic books, computer games — and/or that focus on some aspect of the complex representation of natural and technological ecologies in the genre:

– alternative social and environmental histories
– new approaches to the representation of crisis and disaster
– alien ecologies and their relation to terrestrial crises
– alternative visions of humans’/nonhumans’ relationship to place
– wild, rural and urban environments of the future or on other planets
– contrast or convergence of organic, mechanical and virtual environments
– mapping and the (technological) representation of territories and geographies
– futurist forms of energy, transportation, food provision and resource extraction
– synthetic forms of nature, including synthetically generated or modified bodies
– environmental utopias and dystopias
– new directions in the representation of gender, race and species in science fiction
– ecological scarcity and abundance
– physical and systemic violence in relationships within and between species
– thematic, stylistic and media changes in science fiction as a genre
– changing audiences of science fiction

The workshop will take place in HUMlab, Umeå University’s digital humanities laboratory, and will emphasize informal, yet critical discussion of papers and presentations.

The workshop is arranged by Finn Arne Jørgensen (Umeå University) and Ursula K. Heise (Stanford University) on behalf of Umeå Studies in Science, Technology, and Environment (USSTE), the Nordic Environmental History Network (NEHN), and the Nordic Network for Interdisciplinary Environmental Studies (NIES).

Please submit a 200-word abstract and a 1-page CV to by Saturday, March 10. Indicate whether you wish to present a full-length 20-minute paper, a shorter paper on work in progress, or a mini-presentation on crucial concepts or ideas (8 minutes).

We will cover accommodation and meals for all participants, and will seek to provide travel fellowships for participants from the Nordic countries.

For more information, please contact:
Finn Arne Jørgensen
Associate Senior Lecturer, History of Technology and Environment
Department of Historical, Philosophical, and Religious Studies
Umeå University
901 87 Umeå

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