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CFP: Speculative Finance/Speculative Fiction (Edited Collection)
David M. Higgins and Hugh Charles O’Connell

The 2008 global economic crash awakened many to the inherent precariousness of the global capitalist world-system, and it has provoked renewed demands for financial regulation as well as revolutionary speculations concerning the end of capitalism itself. Phenomena such as the critical success of films like The Big Short and the unexpected resonance of Bernie Sanders’ presidential primary campaign have drawn attention to (and fostered discontent around) the dangers of speculative finance, yet for many, speculative finance is a problem akin to global warming: It seems to occur beyond the size and scale of everyday experience, and it seems nearly unapproachable in terms of critical praxis. Thus, at a nearly universal level, the distance between everyday life and the systemic structures of late capitalism now seem incommensurable and irreal. In the face of such irreality, speculative genres offer unique and extraordinary critical perspectives concerning our contemporary financialized existence.

This edited collection seeks essays that examine a broad range of imaginative productions that bridge the relationships between finance speculation and speculative fiction. The volume’s organizing principle is that speculative fiction, as a particularly modern form, has often (if not always) been attuned to the speculative and fantastical nature of capitalist economics.

Contributions may thus include articles that examine utopias and dystopias, literary speculative fiction, science fiction, fantasy, New Weird fiction, and other non-mimetic literary imaginings. We also welcome contributions that move beyond the literary, including all forms of digital and graphic media, film, and performance. Likewise, we encourage contributions that focus on work from any and all global, national, extranational, or regional positions.

In terms of the analysis of speculative finance, we recognize that neither finance nor speculation are originary conditions of the twenty-first century, even as they have combined to form a dominant center in the global 21st century economy. Therefore, we seek a broad historical approach that limns the origins, development, and rise to global hegemony of speculative finance, and we welcome contributions that examine the beginnings of speculative finance in early speculative fiction and within imperial systems of extraction, finance, and market formation/consolidation. We also encourage investigations of the contemporary relationships between speculative fiction and speculative finance, and, given the universal ramifications of financialization, we welcome essays from a diverse set of critical positions.

Questions to consider may include (but are not limited to) the following:

· What can science fictional economies tell us about fictive capital (and vice versa)?

· How does literary speculation illuminate, fortify, and/or challenge the models of futurity embodied within finance capital and its associated speculative instruments and practices?

· Is the (lack of) futurity in dystopian sf relatable to the ontology of debt?

· How can the tools of sf studies such as cognitive estrangement or the novum help us to understand the invention of financial instruments — e.g. the credit default swap — and the new financial worlds they built around them?

· What might the operations of speculative finance reveal about the futures, the otherworlds, and the alternate histories produced by our speculative narrative forms?

· Is bitcoin a science fictional currency?

· Are the disjunctive temporalities of (New) Weird fiction mappable to the waves of commodity production and financialization?

· Is the “speculative” of speculative fiction the same as that of speculative finance?

· How does the imbrication of the futures industry, futures trading, and sf/f futurism relate to speculative finance and the universalization of indebted life?

· What can utopianism as an economic subset of sf tell us about the development of speculative finance?

· Do feminist utopias as alternate social configurations provide critiques of the phallocentric drives of finance capitalism?

· How is sf franchising related to the logics of financialization, commodification, and debt?

· How might the application of feminist epistemology to technoscientific sf help to reveal sf’s complicity with the ideology of financialization?

· How might the disjunctive temporalities of time travel, multiple worlds and/or alternate history critique the disjunctive aspects of finance capital and its predation on the future?

· What can sf/f world-building reveal about the operation of global capitalist world-systems theory (and vice versa)?

· What does the ludic aspect of speculative narrative – including the prominence of gaming and simulation – tell us about the universalization of individualized risk and/or futures trading as key aspects of the global shadow economy?

· How does the imbrication of fictive economies with real economies in contemporary video games relate to the conditions of speculative finance?

Prospective contributors should submit a 300-500 word abstract, contact information, and a brief bio or CV to both David M. Higgins ( and Hugh Charles O’Connell (

Abstracts are due November 1, 2016. Completed essays will be due in May 2017 with the goal of a late 2017 or early 2018 publication date.