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Religious Practices and Ideology in the Works of Octavia Butler

Octavia E. Butler burst onto the science fiction literary scene with the publication of her first novel, The Patternmaster, in 1976. Her work continued to transform and develop the field in remarkable ways until her death in 2006. From creating worlds of powerful telepaths, alien beings looking to “trade” with humans to advance their civilization or creating a religion that fosters and encourages its followers to believe that “God is change,” Butler’s talent is astounding and groundbreaking.

In The Parable of the Sower Octavia Butler creates a new religion, Earthseed. Earthseed is based on the concept that God is change, that change is the only true constant in this world. The goal of Earthseed is to “take root among the stars.” Earthseed is a pragmatic religion that allows its followers to take active control of their lives in a way that provides them with support and community. While the concept of change runs throughout all of Butler’s work, it is in The Parable collection that she solidifies it.

This collection will explore and interrogate how religion is developed in Octavia E. Butler’s canon. We invite abstracts (400– 500 words) to and (mark both of us) — addressing topics that include but are not limited to the following:
• Religious imagination of Octavia Butler
• The role of religion in Butlerian world-making, community-building, envisioning the divine
• Teaching Octavia Butler in the religion classroom
• Cults, Fanaticism and Religion
• Folklore and Mythology
• Multidisciplinary and interfaith approaches to sermonizing and preaching
• Cult of the Occult
• Role of religion in post-human, non-human bodies, metamorphosis and hybridity, monstrosity and the fantastic in Butler
• Religious beliefs and practices in alternative concepts of subjectivity including gender, sexuality, species, etc.
• Liberation narratives related to or inspired by religions around the world
• Visual Culture: Butlerian images/embodiments and the Transcendent
• Sacred Texts
• Ethics
• Survival

Abstracts are due by July 1, 2018. Please put OCTAVIA BUTLER AND RELIGION as the Subject of the mail you send us. Scholars chosen to participate in the collection will be notified by August 15th with a final draft due March 15th, 2019..