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Contemporary American Science Fiction Film: The Bush, Obama and Trump Years

deadline for submissions:
May 31, 2019

full name / name of organization:
Dr Stuart Joy, Solent University & Dr Terence McSweeney, Solent University

contact email:

Since the turn of the millennium the United States of America has undergone what many have considered to be a series of political, financial, and institutional crises. At the same time, the increasing popularity of the science fiction genre has, in many ways, frequently both dramatized and provided a commentary on the fears and anxieties this period has evoked. The philosopher and cultural critic Walter Benjamin argued that allegory emerges most frequently in periods of crisis and uncertainty, correspondingly it is no coincidence that some of the most powerful films to emerge from American cinema in the last two decades are allegorical texts and many of which have come from the science fiction genre. What are they able to tell us about the turbulent times in which they were made? How might they be uniquely positioned to function as cultural artefacts intrinsically connected to their historical moments? How do the fears and anxieties they portray resonate beyond the frames of the screens?

With this in mind we are seeking scholarly, research informed and dynamic chapter-length contributions to an edited volume on the topic of the contemporary science-fiction genre in American film. This collection of essays will examine and explore how recent films have reflected, portrayed and interrogated the social, political and cultural climate of this fractious period during the presidencies of George W. Bush, Barack Obama and Donald Trump.

Topics for consideration may include, but are not limited to:

Allegories of 9/11 and the War on Terror
The threat of invasion: Aliens, immigration and border crossings
Disaster narratives: Mass extinctions, climate change and environmental damage
The post-human body and the rise of artificial intelligence
Young Adult dystopias
Representations of political and social resistance
Gendered nostalgia (with reference to movements such as #MeToo)
Nostalgia and contemporary political phenomena
Memory (e.g. false memories, artificial memories, memory transfer/erasure)
Alien Others: Race in the science fiction film
Global financial collapse
Cultures of science fiction fandom
The im/possibility of making America great again
Films for consideration may include, but are not limited to:

A Scanner Darkly (Linklater, 2006), A.I. Artificial Intelligence (Spielberg, 2001), Avatar (Cameron, 2009), Children of Men (Cuarón, 2006), Cloverfield (Reeves, 2008), Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (Reeves, 2014), Donnie Darko (Kelly, 2001), Dredd (Travis, 2012), Edge of Tomorrow (Liman, 2014), Elysium (Blomkamp, 2013), Equilibrium (Wimmer, 2002), Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (Gondry, 2005), Ex Machina (Garland, 2014), Gravity (Cuarón, 2013), Her (Jonze, 2013), The Hunger Games (Ross, 2012), Jurassic World (Trevorrow, 2015), I am Legend (Proyas, 2007), Inception (Nolan, 2010), Interstellar (Nolan, 2014), I Robot (Proyas, 2004), Looper (Johnson, 2012), Mad Max: Fury Road (Miller, 2015), Monsters (Edwards, 2010), Minority Report (Spielberg, 2002), Moon (Jones, 2009), Oblivion (Kosinski, 2013), Primer (Caruth, 2004), Rise of the Planet of the Apes (Wyatt, 2011), Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (Edwards, 2016), Safety Not Guaranteed (Trevorrow, 2012), Serenity (Whedon, 2005), Signs (Shyamalan, 2002), Snowpiercer (Joon-ho, 2013), Source Code (Jones, 2011), Star Trek (Abrams, 2009), Star Wars: The Force Awakens (Abrams, 2015), Super 8 (Abrams, 2011), The Day After Tomorrow (Emmerich, 2004), The Road (Hillcoat, 2009), The Martian (Scott, 2015), V for Vendetta (McTeigue, 2005), War of the Worlds (Spielberg, 2005), War for the Planet of the Apes (Reeves, 2017), Wall-E (Stanton, 2008).

About Us

The volume is edited by Stuart Joy co-editor of The Cinema of Christopher Nolan: Imagining the Impossible (Wallflower, 2015) and Through the Black Mirror: Reflections on ‘the Side Effects’ of the Digital Age (Palgrave Macmillan, forthcoming 2019) and Terence McSweeney author of The ‘War on Terror’ and American Film: 9/11 Frames Per Second (EUP, 2014), Avengers Assemble! Critical Perspectives on the Marvel Cinematic Universe (Wallflower, 2018) and editor of “In the Shadow of 9/11”: American Cinema in the ‘War on Terror’ Era (EUP, 2016). Stuart and Terence’s previous collections have included some of the foremost scholars in the fields of film and television studies (including Henry Jenkins, Geoff King, John Shelton Lawrence, Alison Landsberg, Warren Buckland, Will Brooker, Ian Scott, Todd McGowan and many others), it is intended that this book should be the definitive volume on contemporary American science fiction film. A number of publishers have already indicated an interest in the volume, but a final decision will be made by the editors when the structure of the collection is finalised.


The deadline for proposals will be 31st May 2019

Draft chapters of 7,000-8,000 words are due on or before 31st December 2019

Final versions no later than 31st March 2020.

Anticipated publication December 2020-January 2021, i.e. at the start of the new REF cycle.

Please send 500-word proposals (including a provisional title), along with a CV, to Stuart Joy ( by April 30, 2019. Queries are welcome should there be questions about appropriate submission topics, perspectives and dates. Please note that invitation to submit a full essay does not guarantee inclusion in the volume.