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Monthly Archives: October 2019

The International Association for the Fantastic in the Arts is accepting applications for the position of Division Head of the Visual and Performing Arts and Audiences (VPAA) Division. (Please see division description below.)

Division Heads are appointed by the President, on the recommendation of the First Vice President, who chairs the Council of Division Heads, after formal discussion and majority vote of the Board. The term is for three years. The VPAA Division Head will shadow the interim VPAA Division Head during the ICFA 41 conference in March of 2020 and will begin full Division Head duties immediately following the conference in March 2020.

Each Division Head organizes and supervises all conference activity within a subdivision of fantastic scholarship. Division Heads work under the guidance of the First Vice President. Division Heads are responsible for recruiting session proposals and papers and are responsible for formatting these to the requirements of the First Vice President. Division Heads are responsible for forwarding all information to the First Vice President in a timely fashion. Division Heads have the responsibility to check the draft program for accuracy and AV needs. Division Heads are expected to liaise with other Division Heads and the First Vice President. The First Vice President is the final arbiter of the program under the aegis of the Executive Board. At the conference the Division Heads oversee sessions in their respective Divisions and collect suggestions for future topics, special guests, etc.

Those interested in applying must send a cover letter explaining their interest in, and qualifications for, the position, and a current CV, to the First Vice President, Valorie Ebert at, no later than 30 November 2019.

Division description:

The Visual and Performing Arts and Audiences division welcomes critical scholarship and discussions on a transdisciplinary variety of visual media. Among these are comic books, comic strips and graphic novels; graphic arts, including photography, paintings, illustrations, design, and sculpture; architecture and the depiction of architecture in visual media; the performing arts, including music, choreography and (musical) theatre; (video) games and gaming culture; fandom studies in all media and communities; as well as transformative texts such as mashups and viral marketing and audience/reception studies concerning audiences for any medium or genre of the fantastic.


Call for Papers

International Conference for Early Career Researchers
held by the DFG-funded Research Training Group “European Dream Cultures”

from the 10th to the 12th of February 2020 at Saarland University

Dreaming with all Senses.
Sensory Perception in Aesthetic Dream Representations

In her memoirs (1903), deaf-blind author Helen Keller writes: “In my dreams I have sensations, odours, tastes, and ideas which I do not remember to have had in reality.” In fact, dreams cannot be reduced to their visual and verbal dimension but include other forms of perception and experience: Neuroscientific research shows that dreaming involves all our senses (Bulkeley 2009, Schredl 2008). Above all efforts in psychoanalysis, hermeneutics or the natural sciences to ascribe functions and meanings to dreams, they are an elementary body experience: From the weightlessness of flying to the experience of paralysing stillness, from erotic excitement to physical impulses of anger or fear – dreaming takes place on the dimension of bodily and sensory perception.

Sensory perception itself opens up a vast field of possibilities for the arts. From the allegorical representation of the five senses in Flemish painting in the seventeenth century to the clarinet concerto D’om le vrai sens (2011) by Finnish composer Kaija Saariaho, from the late medieval tapestries La Dame à la licorne (sixteenth century) to Jeremy Podeswa’s episodic film The Five Senses (CAN 1999) or David Mackenzie’s science fiction drama film Perfect Sense (UK/DK/SE/IE 2011), the five sensory organs themselves often become the subject of aesthetic representation. Furthermore, synesthetic experiences – from Richard Wagner’s idea of Gesamtkunstwerk to Wassily Kandinsky or installation art – have become a way for the arts to transcend their sensory and medial limitations. Finally, it seems fitting to point to the thesis of philosopher Otto Friedrich Bollnow, stating that the sensory organs only become “real human senses” through art, which affirms the pedagogical and political function of the interdependency between aesthetic artefacts and sensory perception (Bollnow 1988: 31).

Even though dreams and aesthetics are both rooted in bodily experience and sensory perception, there has been little research on this topic. Some disciplines, such as phenomenologically oriented film studies (Barker 2009, Casetti 2008) or interdisciplinary approaches like the so-called somaesthetics (Shusterman 2005, 2012) have recently tried to analyse the interrelation of aesthetic artefacts and their bodily dimension. The DFG-funded Research Training Group “European Dream-Cultures” (“Europäische Traumkulturen”, GRK 2021) has already held a conference on dreams as liminal experiences related to birth and death. It has also dedicated an anthology to their representations in literature, art, music and film (Bertola/Solte-Gresser 2019). The questions raised here will be considered at the planned conference by extending the thematic scope to sensory perception in dreams but at the same time by focussing on the specific characteristics of the aesthetic representation of such experiences. We welcome contributions analysing the presence, modes of representation and functions of dreams in art. According to the concept of the “European Dream Cultures” (Oster/Reinstädler 2017), the conference will pursue its subject across different cultures, eras, media and disciplines.

Examples for possible contributions include:

Individual and/or collective sensory perceptions in aesthetic dream representations, relating to war, trauma, violence, colonial or postcolonial oppression, liberation.

Use of dreamlike logic as a way of depicting sensory experiences that cannot be narrated conventionally or communicated in a logical/discursive manner.

Design of innovative aesthetic forms or the challenging of traditional norms of representation and/or genres by means of a ‘different’ logic that focusses on the sensory perception in dreams.

Synesthetic dream experiences and their representations in art.

Sensory experiences of alterity in dreams (Doppelgänger, shifting into another person or transformation into animals and/or objects) and their aesthetic depiction.

Aesthetic representations of dreams involving liminal experiences or transgressions related to the body or the senses, such as self-distance, changes of location, outer and inner spaces of the body, experiences of unusual or impossible body movements.

Similarities and differences between the aesthetic representation of dreams during sleep and other dreamlike phenomena such as hallucination, ecstasy, visions, prophecies, traumatic flashbacks.

Smelling, feeling, touching, tasting, seeing or hearing objects in their materiality and their aesthetic representation in/as dreams.

Aesthetic representations of sensations in dreams, such as fear, joy, sensuality, uncanniness, or of the experience of time, space, sound and colour across different media.

Following the concept of the Research Training Group “European Dream-Cultures” (, this call is addressed to early career researchers (doctoral candidates and postdoctoral researchers) from the disciplines of art, theatre, film, media, music and literary studies, as well as history, philosophy and other related studies.

Please submit your proposal as a Word file to by the 3rd of November 2019. Please describe your project – in English, German or French – in an abstract not exceeding 3,000 characters and include a short CV.

The languages spoken at the conference will be German, English and French. Following the conference, we plan to include selected contributions in a volume of the series Traum – Wissen – Erzählen, published by Fink (Paderborn).

Selected Bibliography
Barker, J. M. (2009). The Tactile Eye: Touch and the Cinematic Experience. Berkeley.
Bertola, M. / Solte-Gresser, C. (2019). An den Rändern des Lebens. Träume vom Sterben und Geborenwerden in den Künsten. Paderborn.
Bollnow, O. F. (1988). Zwischen Philosophie und Pädagogik. Aachen.
Bulkeley, K. (2009). Seeking patterns in dream content: A systematic approach toward searches. Consciousness and Cognition, 18, 905-916.
Casetti, F. (2008). Eye of the Century. Film, Experience, Modernity. New York.
Oster, P. / Reinstädler, J. (2017). Traumwelten. Interferenzen zwischen Text, Bild, Musik, Film und Wissenschaft. Paderborn.
Schredl, M. (2008). Traum. München.
Shusterman, R. (2005). Leibliche Erfahrung in Kunst und Lebensstil. Berlin.
Shusterman, R. (2012). Körper-Bewusstsein. Für eine Philosophie der Somaästhetik. Hamburg.

Imagining Alternatives – Speculative Fiction and the Political

11th Annual Conference of the Gesellschaft fuer Fantastikforschung (GFF) in cooperation with the German Popular Culture Studies Association (GPCA)

September 10-12, 2020, University of Augsburg, Germany

Author Ian McEwan’s recent claims that Science Fiction is not political enough are not only elitist, but also could not be farther from the truth. After all, any Speculative Fiction, no matter if it is Science Fiction, Fantasy, the Gothic, Horror, or any other variation of the fantastic, has always been political in that they make it possible for us to imagine alternatives to the lives we live – whether it is the warnings of dystopian works such as George Orwell’s 1984 or more recently, Margaret Atwood’s Handmaid’s Tale and its adaptation into a TV series that have resonated at times of #metoo and Trump. Alternate histories such as Man in the High Castle continue to keep audiences similarly engaged, while Harry Potter’s allegory on fascism has served as inspiration for political protest against right-wing voices, particularly for the millennial generation that has grown up with it. Star Trek’s humanist utopia is still going strong after 50 years, and its most recent installment, Star Trek: Discovery may in many ways be its most political yet – particularly given the controversies its spiked for its strive for diversity, bringing to the forefront larger issues surrounding certain sections of SF fans that want to claim the genre(s) as mere escapism without political ideology.

SF has also been used for political (Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged) or religious (scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard’s works or Tim La Haye’s Left Behind series) propaganda, further showing the cultural capital of speculative fiction. Jurassic Park has warned us of the ills of consumerism driving science, Tolkien’s works are not just ecocritical but also anti-fascist, and Doctor Who’s titular character continues to not only fight the Daleks, a thinly-veiled Nazi allegory, but has also recently visited Rosa Parks. Additionally, the recent surge in Climate Fiction, a genre originally advanced by hard SF writers, has built up optimism about the ability of popular culture to not only portray but also ignite eco-political engagement.

This conference thus calls for papers on all forms and genres of speculative fiction and their engagement with the political, be it novels, film, television series, or immersive media such as games or theme parks.

There is generally an open track to submit papers on any SF-related topic, however, we specifically welcome discussions of such issues as:

political ideology in works of SF, incl. fan-produced content based on them
the relevance of works of SF for resistance movements
utopia, dystopia, and the continued project to imagine the future
depictions of minorities in SF and their political implications
general debates surrounding the politics of SF, transnational differences/similarities

Please send abstracts (in English or German) of 300 words plus bio blurbs of 150 words to by January 15, 2020.

The GFF will offer travel grants of 250 Euros each for two (graduate) students attending the conference. Please let us know if you want to be considered when applying.

A conference homepage with more information will follow over the coming months. The conference Twitter handle is @GFF_11th.

Reminder: Call for Nominations: IAFA Second Vice-President and Public Information Officer

Nominations are open until 30 October.

The International Association for the Fantastic in the Arts announces a call for nominations for the elected Executive Board positions of Second Vice-President and Public Information Officer. Any IAFA member in good standing may run for these positions.
Those interested in running or in nominating someone for either position should send a nomination to both IAFA Immediate Past-President Sherryl Vint (sherryl.vint [at] and IAFA Registration and Membership Coordinator Karen Hellekson (iafareg [at] by 30 October 2019. The Election Committee will notify each nominee of her or his nomination and will provide each with the names of everyone else who has accepted nomination during that election cycle. Candidates declining nomination must notify the Election Committee immediately upon notification of their nomination.

Candidates eligible for the offices to which they have been nominated and willing to run for those offices will be asked to submit position statements by 20 November 2019. The Election Committee will distribute position statements and ballots to the membership on 10 December 2019, and ballots will be counted by the Election Committee after 10 January 2020. If no candidate receives a majority vote, a runoff election between the two candidates who have received the most votes will be conducted. The Election Committee will announce results of the election at the IAFA business meeting at ICFA 41 in March 2020, with additional announcements in appropriate IAFA venues thereafter.
For those elected, terms will begin immediately following the conclusion of ICFA 41 in March 2019 and will last for three years. Duties of each position are listed below. Please contact Sherryl Vint if you have any questions. We look forward to hearing from you!

Second Vice President
The Second Vice President oversees and develops the programming track of creative guests, maintaining a current email list, contacting writers to solicit proposals, organizing sessions, and consulting the First Vice President to schedule the creative track. The Second Vice President also collects biographies and photos of the invited attending writers for publication in the program book and passes this information on to the Program Book Coordinator. The Second Vice President is elected by majority vote of the IAFA members who participate in the election.

Public Information Officer
The Public Information Officer edits and distributes promotional materials and forms publicity liaisons with other organizations where appropriate. The Public Information Officer maintains and regularly updates the website and blog, creates and distributes information from the Board such as the Call for Papers and election material, and contributes photos and promotional copy to the IAFA website. The Public Information Officer maintains and regularly updates the social media feeds, responds to inquiries via the social media feeds, and monitors the IAFA’s public image on social media. The Public Information Officer takes Executive Board minutes, disseminates them, archives them, and makes them available for archival use. The Public Information Officer is the recorder of motions and amendments at official meetings. The Public Information Officer maintains the IAFA electronic archive. The Public Information Officer is elected by majority vote of the IAFA members who participate in the election.

CFP for Panel ICFA 2020 on Expanding the Archive (plus a special issue of JFA)

In 2019, the fanfiction site Archive of Our Own (AO3) won a Hugo award. This repository of nearly 5 million original works, representing over 30 thousand fandoms, stands out in the world of Science Fiction and Fantasy awards not only because of the sheer number of authors it represents, but also because it is the first Hugo win for unpublished fanfiction and many of the authors are young women. This victory draws attention to what is “archived” and, by extension, what is valued. AO3’s Hugo win is not the year’s only example of the expanding canon of Speculative Fiction. The documentary film Horror Noire: A History of Black Horror, produced by Tananarive Due, directed by Xavier Burgin, and based on Dr. Robin R. Means Coleman’s book Horror Noire: Blacks in American Horror Films from the 1890s to Present (2011), begins with the assertion that “black history is black horror” and tracks how the genre can engage with questions of race and power. Similarly, Dr. Ebony Thomas’s The Dark Fantastic considers Black female characters Bonnie Bennett (CW’s The Vampire Diaries), Rue (The Hunger Games), Gwen (Merlin), and Angelina Johnson (Harry Potter), and explores how these characters mirror racist violence in the real world. Each of these examples makes a case for expanding the idea of the canon (and what we value enough to archive) to include different types of characters and voices.

In terms of physical archives, a recent open letter on the Reading While White blog called out the lack of context and white-washing of the University of Minnesota’s Children’s Literature Research Collection’s exhibit and corresponding book The ABC of It: Why Children’s Books Matter, demonstrating that even professional archives are not neutral—especially once their materials are extracted and exhibited for public consumption. In the wake of this controversy, curators of archives, whether in libraries, classrooms, or their own scholarly work, must address how the materials presented and their surrounding context represent choices that speak to the curator’s values and priorities.
When archives hold the power to exclude and include, to value and affirm both people and genre, then how do we as scholars decide what belongs and how do we think through the consequences of those choices for ourselves, our students, and our field? We encourage submissions that answer these questions and otherwise critically examine the speculative fiction archive, broadly defined.

Submissions may consider but are not limited to the following topics in relation to archives:
The worth/value estimation of collecting
Teaching courses in the archives
Archival pedagogy- constructing the archives for our courses/ asking students to construct their own archives
Controversies and canon
Digital collections
Internet as archive
Fan spaces
Race and representation
Award winners as archive

Please send a 300-500 word abstract and preliminary bibliography to Emily Midkiff ( or Sara Austin ( by Oct 11, 2019. Abstracts will also be considered for a special issue of the Journal of the Fantastic in the Arts (for which we will be issuing another CFP in November if you can’t make ICFA!)

Dear ICFA Community:

As you may know, ICFA has a creative track (in addition to our academic divisions) where authors, artists, and editors can participate in conference programming. Most of the creative track features invited authors giving readings of their fiction. Additionally, other ICFA participants can also propose other forms of creative programming.

For example, If you are NOT an invited author, and you’d like to share your creative writing (fiction or poetry), you can apply to participate in a Words and Worlds session — these are sessions where academics and/or early-career authors can share their writing at the conference. To apply to read your work at a Words and Worlds session, please contact Gina Wisker (G.Wisker [at] who organizes these sessions.

Alternatively, the creative track is also open to proposals for other kinds of artistic presentations (musical compositions, visual arts and/or photography, theatrical performances, etc) and for non-academic panel sessions related to the fantastic in the arts (panel proposals on a wide range of topics are very welcome!)

To apply for programming in the creative track, you can use the portal submission system:

Submit a Proposal to ICFA

Just be sure to choose ” Offer a creative presentation or panel discussion for the creative track” under the “Your Proposal” section. The IAFA Second Vice President organizes the creative track, so your proposals will come directly to me. To avoid confusion, please be sure NOT to send creative track proposals to the academic divisions!

Please feel free to contact me directly if you have any questions about ICFA’s creative track.


David Higgins

IAFA Second Vice President

iafa.2vp [at]

Final Call for Submissions: 2020 Jamie Bishop Memorial Award

The International Association for the Fantastic in the Arts announces its 14th annual Jamie Bishop Memorial Award for a critical essay on the fantastic originally written in a language other than English.

The IAFA defines the fantastic to include science fiction, folklore, and related genres in literature, drama, film, art and graphic design, and related disciplines. For more information regarding the Bishop Award and a list of past winners, see

Submission criteria:

• Essays should be of high scholarly quality, as if for publication in an academic journal.
• We consider essays from 3,000–10,000 words in length (including notes and bibliography).
• Essays may be unpublished scholarship submitted by the author, or already published work nominated either by the author or another scholar (in which case the author’s permission should be obtained before submission).
• Essays must have been written and (when applicable) published in the original language within the last three years prior to submission.
• An abstract in English and an English translation of the essay’s title must accompany all submissions.
• Only one essay per designated author(s) may be submitted each year.
• Submissions must be made electronically in .pdf or Microsoft Word format (.doc, .docx), to the email address noted below.

Deadline for receipt of submissions: October 15, 2019. Essays may be submitted prior to the deadline.

The winner of this year’s Bishop Award will be announced at the 41st International Conference on the Fantastic in the Arts, to be held in Orlando, Florida (USA) March 18–21, 2020.

Prize: $250 US and one year’s free membership in the IAFA. Winning essays may be posted on the IAFA website in the original language and/or considered for publication in the Journal of the Fantastic in the Arts ( should they be translated into English.

Please direct all inquiries and submissions to:

Terry Harpold

CFP for ICFA 2020: Trans Futurisms

In the first issue of Transgender Studies Quarterly, Susan Stryker and Paisley Currah write, “Transgender does not simply critique present configurations of power/knowledge; it is engaged with all manner of unexpected becomings, oriented toward a future that, by definition, we can anticipate only imperfectly and never fully grasp” (9). Trans is about the future – about transitions, becomings, evolution, and potentiality. Science fiction offers a privileged site for these trans futures – in fact, there is a long history of trans characters in SF, although that history is not yet centralized in SF studies. From Joanna Russ to Gerald Vizenor to Octavia Butler to N. K. Jemisin, trans people appear in SF as dystopian monsters, exercises in critical estrangement, casually-included minor characters, and very occasionally as the authors and protagonists of our own stories. Trans bodies themselves have historically been understood as science fictions: as artificial men and surgically-constructed women, unreal genders made up on Tumblr, or grotesque monsters who may not be men or women at all. Trans theorist Susan Stryker said it best in her 1994 essay, “My Words to Victor Frankenstein above the Village of Chamounix”: “I am a transsexual, and therefore I am a monster” (240).

This panel explores generative crossings between “trans” and “SF”: trans futures, trans speculative fictions, trans as science fiction, science fiction as trans. Potential areas of inquiry may include, but are not limited to:

• How has SF historically imagined and used trans characters?
• How can SF create more livable futures for trans life?
• What does it mean to write and read SF while trans women of color are being murdered at epidemic rates?
• How have Afrofuturist, latino futurist, indigenous futurist, and other artists of color imagined futures for trans people?
• How have trans writers, artists, and activists envisioned and built their own futures?
• What does it mean for one’s body to be read as science fictional – or to see your own body as speculative fiction?
• How does SF help extend conceptions of “trans” beyond the human?
• How do fan cultures create, rewrite, and extend trans futures?

I welcome creative contributions as well as academic presentations. Please contact Dagmar Van Engen at by October 20 with questions or proposals of <500w.